FAQ Guide to Diving In Sipadan and Beyond

For most divers, Sipadan has always been a constant on their bucket list. Likewise for us and we were so thrilled to be able to finally strike that off our list!

Very excited for our dive in Sipadan!

What you can expect to see during your dive in Sipadan


Diving in the middle of a Jackfish storm!

Shark spotted during our dive in Sipadan!

We had 2 dives at Sipadan and this was the first time that we saw so many sharks and turtles up close! Sipadan is renowned for their large schools of fishes, white tipped sharks, barracudas, turtles and more!

Tip: A wide angled camera like a GoPro would be perfect to capture the vast marine life in Sipadan


Where to stay when diving in Sipadan


As Sipadan is a protected area, tourists are not allowed to stay at Sipadan island. There are several accommodation options at the other nearby islands. We stayed at Scuba Tiger at Semporna and it turned out to be one of the best decisions!

Our spacious water bungalow which is right above the sea!

View from our balcony

From the map below, you can see that Semporna is in the middle between the north and south dive spots. Sipadan and Mabul Island are located in the south, while there are some really good dive spots in the north as well!

Not difficult to spot the Scuba Tiger’s boat!

The boat ride takes around 45 minutes from Semporna to Sipadan or to the dive spots in the north. So if you stay at Mabul island or near Sipadan, it would be too far to travel to Sibuan or other dive spots in the north!

Lunch on board the boat while we’re out for our dives!

Tip: If you’re heading to Sabah to dive, don’t just dive at Sipadan only. Do give yourself at least another 2 more days to explore the other nearby islands!


When is the best time to dive at Sipadan


Photo credit: http://www.dive-holidays.com/

You can dive all year round in Sipadan but the visibility is the best during the hottest & driest months in June/July. We were there during early March and it was still very good albeit visibility of only around 10m. The school of jackfishes as shown in the photo above can be seen all year round too!

Where else to dive at besides Sipadan


Diving at Mabul Island!

There are many other small islands such as Mabul, Sibuan, Mataking, Mantabuan, etc. For these islands, the focus is more on the macro marine life. We were so intrigued by the tiny creatures that we spotted during our dive. From the cute little frogfish, colourful nudibranchs to peacock shrimps, the macro marine life at Mabul never failed to amaze us.

Photo credit: Peacock Mantis Shrimp by Alexander Safono, Flickr

How to get the permit for Sipadan


To protect Sipadan, the government has imposed a regulation that only 120 divers are allowed to dive at Sipadan daily. There are 2 ways that you can get the permit.

  • For those who are short of time, you can purchase a permit on its own from the resort. It costs us 850RM per pax for the permit which includes 2 dives at Sipadan. We got our permit from Scuba Tiger.
  • Or you can book a minimum of 4 night stays at any of the dive resort and they will be able to issue you a 1 day permit to dive at Sipadan. If the dive resort ran out of permits, don’t give up, check with other resorts first!
Tip: To secure your permit for Sipadan, do plan your trip in advance especially during the peak season!


What else is there to do besides diving at Sipadan


Hiking at Bohey Dulang

Mesmerising view from the peak of Bohey Dulang

For those that have more than a few days to spare, you can try hiking at Bohey Dulang. It’s no doubt a short 600m hike, but still challenging! Because of the recent rain, the terrain was very muddy and slippery! The view at the top is extremely picturesque, definitely one of the best that we’ve ever seen in our lives!

Tip: For those planning on hiking Bohey Dulang, please wear proper hiking shoes as the terrain can be very slippery especially during the wetter season!


Snorkel and chill in the crystal clear aqua marine waters!

Indulge in the freshest seafood ever

This is definitely a must do for all food lovers! We had one of the best and freshest seafood ever in Semporna city (10mins drive from Scuba Tiger). You can pick your choice from crabs, fish, tiger prawns, squid, and more! There’s a whole stretch of seafood restaurants right next to the sea in Semporna. We ate at Fat Mama, which is apparently one of the cheapest and good places to dine at for seafood.

Straight from the sea! Cheap and fresh seafood is a must eat in Sabah!

How to book a diving trip in Sipadan/Semporna

For us, we booked it with Scuba Tiger which is a dive resort located in Semporna. We did 3 days of diving with them (which included 1 day of dives in Sipadan) and 1 day of snorkelling. Overall it was a really great experience, the staff were very friendly and helpful too! Free shuttle service is also provided to the city centre in Semporna (around 1o minutes drive). Do contact them for more info on the pricing and packages available! 🙂

Do you have any other questions with regards to diving in Sipadan? Ask us in the comments box below and we’ll try our best to answer them! 🙂