Sipadan and Mabul and Kapalai are brilliant. So many big and small critters to see - robust ghost pipefish, ornate ghost pipefish, frog fish, leaf fish, bamboo sharks, decorator crabs, sea horses, cowfish, a school of 15 devil rays.
Be aware that the currents are not predicatable around sipadan. This is not a problem if you are an experienced diver but you must be comfortable in a current and able to look after yourself as you often become separated from the dive master. Novice divers must not expect a dive master close by all the time as they have a huge range of abilities to guide and they can't be everywhere playing nursemaid to the nervous.
We thought the dive briefings were a little - well, brief - but 'plan your dive and dive your plan' is not always possible, so now we know why. Sometimes you just have to let go and drift (fly) with the current - we got around 3-4 knots. Some dives where the current changed 3 times, you set off reef on right then the current gets up and you turn round then 50 metres back the current turns again - no wonder the briefings were sketchy.
There were also down currents on a couple of days to the extent where you had your BCD fully inflated at 30m and were still going down and thinking about dumping weight if it didn't end soon. all good fun for the confident but not for the faint-hearted.
since the abduction on the island some time back, the security have been beefed up.. sea patrol rounds the area frequently.. so, there's peace of mind when visiting this magnificent island.. no worries! :)
As you know Sipadan island is actually closed to tourism, in fact all restaurants, pubs, bars are closed. As a result only a limited number of divers can go to the island and if you go to Sipadan you can dive, snorkel but you can't stay on the land of the island excluded 100 metres between antiterrorism army and ecological guard. There are 2 reason about this limitation: ecological protection (to save turtles eggs) and in particular for terrorism reasons. Sipadan made headlines in 2000, when rebels from the southern Philippines kidnapped a group of 21 people from the island, including 10 foreign tourists maybe because of Sipadan (that is located half way from Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia) is the closer land to a petroleum spot.
A Muslim separatist group in the Philippines has said it was responsible for the kidnapping of 20 people from the remote resort island of Sipadan in eastern Malaysia.
The claim was made by Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf group, in a telephone interview with a radio station in Zamboanga, in the southern Philippines.
But the authorities said they needed more time to determine whether the group really was involved because the area is well known for piracy.
Anyway Sipadan is actually quite safe and sheltered because amry is always there but it still remains the closer island to a petroleum spot.