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Malaysia / Sipadan / Kapalai Location Info

PulauSipadan ('Border Island' in Malay) is an island of outstanding natural beauty.

The island is only 12 hectares (30 acres) and is covered by pristine rainforest.

The amazing diversity and abundance of marine life found at Sipadan makes it one of the top world's top diving spots and without doubt the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia.

Sipadanisland is regularly featured in the world's top 10 dive spots along with other destinations sich as the Galapagos Islands.

Scuba dive with the swirling tornado-like formation of Barracudas, the big-eye trevallies, the thousands silver jack fishes, the giant size parrot fishes, the numerous turtles and many others such as mantas, eagle rays, tunas, scalloped hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and 3000 more species of fish.

”I have seen other places like Sipadan 45 years ago. Now we have found again an untouched piece of art.” - Late Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1988.

 

 

Kapalai

A few minutes by boat from Sipadan but a full world away it lies the exhilarating Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort , sitting on its sturdy stilts on the shallow sandbanks of the Ligitan Reefs. Planned and built in full style as an airy, comfortable, sunny water village with no land in sight, it boats a mile-long sandbank of powdery blindingly white sand where one can suntan at complete leisure.

The resort offers great food, surprisingly roomy ad elegant twin-sharing wooden chalets with huge private balconies and attached bathrooms and a couple of miles of walkways for those who like to take their morning jog while looking at thousands of fish just a few inches beneath their feet. Meals are served in the terraced, open central structure, while a big western sundeck allows divers to have an evening drink or an after-dive chat with a background of fabulous tropical sunsets.

Diving around Kapalai is exceedingly easy and shallow but quiet spectacular: the sandy bottom and the spare coral heads host an amazing array of small, often yet-to-be-classified, shamelessly colorful subjects, making the diving here and unforgettable experience for any discerning photographer. The resort offers three dives a day plus, if requested, day trips at Sipadan.

The purest image of natural serenity, the sandbank of Kapalai and its exclusive resort- on-stilts lie on a patch of brilliant turquoise a few miles off the coast of Borneo, along the spectacular Ligitan Reefs and just a few minutes by speedboat from the celebrated (and more crowded) islands of Sipadan and Mabul.

Quiet shallow waters lap at the sturdily, kampung-style built wooden bungalows overlooking the sandy sea bottom, and from the windows of the elegant, spacious rooms one can spend endless hours looking at the sea life dancing its never ending tune just a couple of meters below.

Innovative in concept -a chain of roomy and well-equipped chalets with private bathrooms linked by long wooden walkways, centered around the open restaurant cum sundeck and the customary dive center -the Kapalai Dive Resort has been built on a shallow but surprisingly wide sandbank which had been long known (and dived) by underwater photographers from all over the world, who used to come all the way from Sipadan and Mabul in search of its wildly exotic resident fauna.

Swimming, creeping, crawling or just simply lying still on the surrounding sand bottoms, hiding among the branching colonies of the shallow surrounding coral reef, ambushing their unwary prey from the hideouts offered by the resort stills and a few artificial reefs dotting the bottom, an amazing number of rare and unbelievably colorful species play their game of life and death, offering to the discriminating visitor unsurpassed opportunities for observation and macro photography.

The name of Sipadan is simply legendary in diving circles, conjuring images of twirling tornados of barracudas and jacks, patrolling hammerhead sharks, millions of technicolored reef fish and, above all, dozens of sea  turtles  swimming peacefully everywhere.

This description is not far from reality: it might even actually downplay a little bit, as Sipadan is considered one of the five top diving destinations in the world. 

This small rainforest-covered tropical island rising from a 700 meter abyss in the Celebes Sea is a destination the committed diver cannot miss.

No other place on Earth can offer so much underwater biodiversity, so much large fish action, so many rare opportunities to watch feeding, courting and mating behavior of so many different species in the course of a single dive.

Rising from a depth of more than 600 meters from the bottom of the Celebes Sea, just a few miles from the coast of Sabah (45 minutes by speedboat in calm seas), PulauSipadan is just a small island, the top of a long-lost lava chimney from a prehistoric volcano: its topside covered by a lush and thick tropical forest and ringed by a sandy beach, its shallow surrounding coral reefs suddenly giving way to precipitous vertical drop-offs, falling down to the abyss below.

Where else in the world can one get dizzy kneeling in the sand and looking straight down for 600 meters? Where else in the world can one see, in the course of the average dive, at least a dozen turtles of two different species, a twirling tornado of thousands of chevron barracudas, a glinting and shimmering rolling ball of hundreds of jacks, a herd of massive giant bumphead parrotfish grazing on the reef top, while all the time being buzzed by scores of white tip reef sharks? Then, of course, there's always the lucky day: when you might meet a pack of patrolling grey reef sharks down there at Barracuda Point, and immense whale shark gliding by in the current off South Point, or maybe bump into a couple of mantas playing in front of the Drop-off, or even check a living wall of hundreds of hammerheads rising like ghosts from the deep, glowing in the open blue water at Hanging Gardens.

For those more inclined towards the smaller denizens of the reefs, there are numerous juvenile fishes, clown anemone fishes, decorator and spider crabs, coral shrimps, nudibranchs, prawn gobies and such rarer subjects as jawfish, ornate ghost pipefish and frogfish.

Divers are sure to appreciate the remaining large stretches of unspoiled lettuce and staghorn and other hard corals, the many varieties of soft corals, feather stars, sponges, sea fans etc. The many different types of anemones and their different partners, the clown anemone fish, shrimp and porcelain crabs are a sight.

We have two totally different wrecks which are fill of fishes large and small. The "Lankayan Wreck" was an ocean going fish poaching vessel appropriately demised in the area of its illegal activities.  It is now the base of numerous fishes, from small cardinals and yellow pikes to large groupers, cobias and emperors. A very impressive site and at only 23 meters. Look for the ornate ghost pipefish here.

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