The only oceanic island in Malaysia, Sipadan Island is a perfect spot for diving, snorkeling, and swimming with its diverse marine life.
Sipadan Island is a legend amongst divers and famed for its stunning underwater experience. Located in the Celebes Sea, the crystal clear water of Sipadan Island is an allure to sea lovers all over the world. Home to a diverse underwater ecosystem, this remarkable island offers a dive adventure like nowhere else, including an eerie underwater limestone cave where skeletons of turtles are scattered.
Sipadan Island is located in the Celebes Sea, about an hour’s boat ride from Semporna Port.
Opening Days and Hours
Sipadan Island is open to divers from 06:00 to 16:00 daily.
Entry Fee and Bookings
The permit for Sipadan Island is USD 9 per person per entry and is limited to 120 people per day. Most visitors get their permits included in the dive package they book from an operator.
How to Get There
You can get to Sipadan Island by boat from Kapalai and Mabul Islands (about 30 minutes away). You can also take a boat from Semporna Port (about 1 hour).
Sipadan Island is only suitable for advanced divers.
Time to Spend
Because it is difficult to get a permit to the island due to its limit on the number of tourists per day, most visitors who managed to get the exclusive permits will try to spend as much time on the island as possible, from it’s opening time at 06:00 to its closing time at 16:00.
Popularity and Best Time to Go
You can dive at Sipadan all year round. The best time to go is from April to December when the water is calmer.
There are no food for sale on the island but tour operators do provide food if you book a dive package from them.
Safety and Fraud
Filipino pirates, Abu Sayyaf, are known to appear in this region and had kidnapped tourists in 2000. However, nobody was hurt and everyone was released eventually. Since then, there were no incidents and there is a permanent military presence on the island.
You can enjoy island hopping to both Kapalai and Mabul islands, which are about 30 minutes away by boat.
In a conservation effort, the Malaysian government has declared it illegal to stay on Sipadan Island since 2005, ordering all resort operators on the island to move. Therefore, no tourists are allowed on the island after 16:00 and the only nearby accommodation options are at the neighbouring islands of Kapalai and Mabul with expensive island resorts, or Semporna town where you can find budget hostels and mid-range hotels.
Good to Know
Sometimes, you might not be able to get your permit to Sipadan immediately. Therefore, it is advisable that you allow flexibility in your schedule as a visit to Sipadan Island cannot always be guaranteed.