Sipadan Island, Sabah, Malaysia is an internationally renowned SCUBA diving destination. Divers began exploring Sipadan as early as in 1984. It became more famous after Jacque Cousteau released a documentary film on his 1987 expedition about the uniqueness of its coral reefs. Dive operators capitalized on Cousteau’s “rediscovery” to further promote Sipadan at local and international levels. This paper describes the development and changes that took place in Sipadan over the last two decades and the present efforts to manage the thriving SCUBA diving industry there. It discusses the rational and basis of instructing resort operators to relocate or move out of Sipadan, setting the limit/quota of divers to Sipadan and introducing and spreading divers to new dive sites near Sipadan.
For most divers, Malaysian diving means the island of Sipadan off Sabah in Borneo even novices tend to get that glazed look on their faces when the word “Sipadan” is uttered. Sipadan is still a true gem, but the environmental restraints, which always meant that the island had limited space to offer, have recently been increased. Authorities have forced a number of dive operators to vacate their structures on the island. Sipadan, Mabul and Layang Layang are all famous names, but maybe the time has come to take a further look at what Maylasia has to offer? Aside from so many new dive sites just waiting to be discovered, there are also an incredible amount of exciting adventures above water. This country boasts cultural and natural riches like few other territories.
While this Article may be primarily for divers by divers, diving is not just diving anymore. It would be gross negligence not to take at least a brief look at a few of the cultural and land excursions that can be conveniently and easily included in a dive trip to the region. Be it her dense, mysterious rainforests once haunted by head-hunters and now the home of proboscis monkeys, hornbills and of course orang-utans, or the exciting, dynamic capital of Kuala Lumpur, where modernity rubs shoulders with tradition and where you can shop till you drop before exploring the vibrant restaurant scene, or the white sand-fringed resort islands of Penang, Langkawi and Pangkor, with villas built on stilts over the water in the manner of a traditional Malay fishing village all over Malaysia you’ll find coral reefs, tropical jungles and friendly locals who speak English as well as Malay. Borneo is also home to Mount Kinabulu, the region’s highest summit.
In this way, Malaysia can be likened to a treasure trove of adventures. Some gems are already found and polished while others are still waiting to be discovered. It is so hard to choose there are so many good dive operators in the area that it is impossible to be equally fair to everyone who deserves an overview here.
Sipadan Island Sabah has a number of excellent dive spots, with the jewel being the world-famous Sipadan. Its location at the heart of the Indo Pacific Basin makes it one of the richest marine habitats in the world. Here, fascinating sights of turtles, reef sharks and a thrilling 600m drop-off await experienced divers. The island was made famous by renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau in his documentary, ‘Ghosts of the Sea Turtle’.