Scuba diving Sipidan Island, Malaysian Borneo

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I was fortunate enough to go on a trip of a lifetime to Malaysian Borneo a couple of years ago and dive on the infamous Sipidan Island, as well as some other very notable islands.  Sipidan is like a pinnacle with an island perched on top and has some of the best pelagic diving I have seen.  The walls plunge to the bottom of a trench and the deep blue is full of creatures.  A few years ago, the dive shops on the island voluntarily vacated it so it could be protected and preserved.  Since it is no longer inhabited except for marine park rangers, the reef is very well protected and the wildlife is very prolific.  There are only a few permits issued to a few dive shops daily so the number of divers is strictly controlled but you will usually get one opportunity in a 7 night trip.  There are very few places on earth where you can swim along and see dozens of sharks resting on the reef like the two above.  You can see up to 40+ sharks on a single dive.

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There is a dive site called Barracuda Point that is one of my favorite dive sites.  You drop in and are greeted by a large school of Jacks (above & below).  They can blot out the sun there are so many.  Then you swim along the wall and see lots of fun critters like the fire dart fish above until you feel the current pick you up.  Then you are flying around a point and out of the current.  Here is where you can see a massive school of Barracuda circling above you like a funnel.  My little camera just couldn’t capture the scene but believe me, it is spectacular.  Turtles and rays are common sites at Sipidan also.  You can tell by the sea life and fish numbers that they do a great job of protecting the island.  And did I mention sharks?  Remember, this is Asia and the center of the shark finning controversy so it really speaks highly about the job the rangers do that sharks have a sanctuary here.

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The diving in Malaysian Borneo is really special all over but Sipidan rated a post all by itself because of how unique it is in the world of diving.  I would definitely recommend adding it to your bucket list!  If you get the chance to dive it, you become a member of a pretty select club because of the limits on divers.  As with several places we all want to dive, it takes a little work to get there, but it is worth it!

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