Sipadan Island, or locally known as “Pulau Sipadan”, derives its name from the Bajau word “Sipadan”, which translates to “Island of the Dead”. This name traces back to ancient legends where the island was believed to be the resting place of ancient Bajau warriors.
Sipadan Island is a pristine gem located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia. The island, rising 600 meters from the seabed, is Malaysia’s only oceanic island. It is situated in the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, which boasts some of the world’s richest marine biodiversity.
Historically a dive spot known only to a select few, Sipadan came into the global spotlight for its unparalleled underwater biodiversity. It gained worldwide fame after documentaries by Jacques Cousteau praised its rich marine life. The island has witnessed territorial disputes but is now under Malaysian sovereignty. Recognizing its ecological importance, the Malaysian government took steps to preserve its ecosystem by making it a protected site in 2004, limiting the number of divers per day.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Diving: Renowned as one of the world’s top diving spots, Sipadan is a haven for divers. Dive sites like Barracuda Point and Turtle Tomb are famous for their massive barracuda schools and intricate underwater limestone caves, respectively.
- Snorkeling: For those not keen on diving, snorkeling around Sipadan offers a glimpse into its vibrant marine life, with the possibility of encountering turtles, rays, and countless fish species.
- Bird Watching: Sipadan’s lush vegetation is home to various bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers.
- Beach Relaxation: While diving steals the limelight, the island’s serene beaches with crystal-clear waters provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation and sunbathing.
How to Get In and Out
- By Air: The nearest airport is Tawau Airport in Sabah. From there, travelers head to the town of Semporna.
- By Sea: From Semporna, tourists take a boat ride to reach Sipadan. Due to conservation efforts, direct accommodation on Sipadan is unavailable, so visitors usually stay on neighboring islands like Mabul or Kapalai and make day trips to Sipadan.
Sipadan Island offers a unique blend of unrivaled marine experiences and serene tropical landscapes. It’s a must-visit for every nature lover and diving enthusiast.