Underwater Asia. One Asia. One Passion. One Site.

Underwater Asia Home  Contact Underwater Asia
Layang Layang
Perhentian Islands
Tioman & Aur
Tunku Abdul Rahman
Dive Guide Home

Divespot Finder


Find us on Facebook
Find us on Twitter

Join our community


Underwater Asia Imaging

Big Fish Hotspots


Dive Map Sipadan Mabul Kapali South Point West Ridge Drop Off Barracuda Point Mid Ridge
Sipadan is Malaysia’s most famous dive spot. The tiny island sits just off the continental shelf and receives plenty of cold, nutrient-rich upwellings from the deep.

These nutrient-rich waters attract huge numbers of Turtles, both Green & Hawksbill, while the area is also home to large number of White-tip Reef Sharks, Bumphead Parrotfish, Trevally & Barracuda.

Larger visitors such as Hammerhead Sharks & Manta Rays can also be seen, while the area also sits within the coral triangle, ensuring a huge diversity of life to add to the area's attractions.
Barracuda Soft Coral Diver and Coral Schooling Jacks Dive Map Sipadan
Dive Spots IconDive Spots
Bumphead and Batfish One of Sipadan’s most popular sites is Barracuda Point, which, as the name suggests, is a great place to see huge, swirling schools of Chevron Barracuda. Whitetip Sharks can be seen on the reef here, while occasionally Grey Reef Sharks & Eagle Rays cruise in the blue. As with all Sipadan’s sites, Turtles, especially Green Turtles, are a very common sight.

South Point is another great spot for larger marine life and is famous for it's Hammerhead sightings, while the Drop-Off - a sheer wall plunging to great depths straight from the beach, is another fantastic spot. Currents can sometimes be strong at these sites though, so a little care is needed.

Huge schools of Trevally can be seen on any site here and Bumphead Parrotfish are often heard crunching through the reef before they are seen. The Bumpheads can also be seen in procession on their way to 'work' for those that are prepared to wake up early.

West Ridge & Mid Reef, among others, have a profusion of corals and colourful reef-life. If you fancy something a little different, Turtle Cavern is a cave where many Turtles and other marine life have met their maker, leaving an eerie display of skeletal remains. If a turtle can get lost in here though, so can a diver - so do not enter without the proper safety precautions and take extreme care.

Just a short distance away, Mabul & Kapali have reefs of a very different nature. Shallow fringing reefs are home to all manner of unusual critters, with Mandarinfish, Frogfish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Seahorses, Ribbon Eels and more, making these small islands one of Asia's current hotspots for macro lovers.

The combination of Sipadan's dramatic walls & big marine life, plus the unusual delights of Mabul & Kapalai are a tribute to this areas diversity & give the area a unique appeal for divers, making it one of Asia's top spots for diving.

  Nudibranch Ghost Pipefish Featherstar Octapus
Dive Bases Icon Dive Bases Frogfish
It is not possible to stay on Sipadan, but there are resorts on Mabul & Kapalai, just 20 minutes away by boat, as well as Semporna on the mainland.

The diving is excellent all year round. April through to December is the main high season, with July & August normally bringing the very best conditions.
  • Mabul
  • Kapali
  • Semporna

Dive Map MabulDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Mabul

Mabul is a small island just of the coast of Sabah. It is the major dive base for trips to Sipadan, just a few minutes away by boat. The island, which is surrounded by beautiful beaches, has gained a reputation as a top 'muck-diving' spot in recent years.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are around 10 dive centres on the island, offering trips to Sipadan a few times per day, plus local dives around Mabul. Most, if not all the dive centres are affiliated to resorts and sell diving in a package with accommodation.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach Mabul, you need to fly to Tawau in Sabah, then get a boat to the resort from Semporna, nearby. There are flights to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah & Kuala Lumpur on the mainland. Trips here should be arranged in advance with the resort. It is also possible to get to Semporna by bus from Kota Kinabalu in the north of Sabah.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is a pretty good range of accommodation on the island, from fairly basic chalets to luxury accommodation built over the water. Most resorts have their own dive shops.

Do Phuket  Do
Aside from diving, the most popular activities are snorkelling, relaxing, enjoying a cocktail and admiring the view.

Dive Map KapaliDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Kapalai

Kapalai, near to Sipadan in Sabah, is not so much an island than a sandbar. This luxurious dive resort, called Kapalai Island Resort has been built on stilts over the Litagai Reefs creating what is essentially a luxury water village.

Dive Phuket  Dive
This beautiful setting means visitors have diving just a stone's throw away off the resort jetty, as well as Kapalai's other dive sites, which are just a few minutes further by boat. Daily trips are also made to Sipadan & Mabul nearby.

Travel Phuket  Travel
To reach Kapalai, you need to fly to Tawau in Sabah, then get a boat to the resort from Semporna, nearby. There are flights to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu & Kuala Lumpur. It is also possible to reach Semporna by bus from Kota Kinabalu in the north of Sipadan.

Stay Phuket  Stay
Accommodation is in charming bungalows raised above the water on stilts. Trips here are sold as packages including diving & accommodation and must be booked in advance.

Do Phuket  Do
The resort has been built specifically for divers, so there is not a great deal to do aside from venture under the waves. It is possible to arrange kayaking from the resort and there is a games room, internet access and a pleasant bar & restaurant.

Dive Map SempornaDirectory Find Dive Centres & Resorts in Semporna

Semporna is the main jumping off point for visits to the dive resorts of Mabul & Kapalai. It is also possible to stay in the town though and make trips to Sipadan from here. This is the cheapest way to dive Sipadan, especially if you only plan to make a handful of dives.

Dive Phuket  Dive
Currently, there are 3 dive centres in Semporna. In addition to running trips to Sipadan, trips can be arranged to Mabul, Kapalai and many other nearby islands with good diving. Sipadan is around 35km away.

Travel Phuket  Travel
Semporna can be easily reached from Tawau airport, which has flights from Kota Kinabalu & Kuala Lumpur. The town is also connected to Kota Kinabalu in the north of Sabah by bus.

Stay Phuket  Stay
The majority of accommodation in Semporna is budget accommodation - in contrast to many of the resorts on Mabul & Kapalai. There are quite a few options to choose from. The town also has more facilities than Mabul or Kapalai, but is not as idyllic.

Do Phuket  Do
Aside from the diving, it is interesting to take a walk along the seafront in Semporna and admire the local's beautiful 'Lepa' boats. Every year in April, they hold an impressive regatta, involving hundreds of these boats. There is fairly lively nightlife in the town and it is possible to arrange trips to Sabah's popular Orangutan rehabilitation centres from here.

Layang Layang         
Layang Layang is an atoll that is part of the Spratleys, a chain of around 600 islands out in the South China Sea. The 14km long atoll rises from the depths 2000m below, providing awesome wall diving and some great opportunities for shark lovers...

Big Fish Dives

Are you addicted to the thrill of big marine encounters? Do you crave up-close & personal encounters with gentle giants or apex predators? Then check out our guide to Asia's best spots for big fish encounters...


Search UnderwaterAsia

Scuba Fish

Take the test

Muck-diving Hotspots

Dive Info Philippines

  Back to Top Previous Page   Underwater Asia Home  
Underwater Asia. One Asia. One Passion. One Site.