Following our Asian safari on the Kinabatangan River, we caught a local bus to the seaside village of Semporna, a jumping off point for diving on Sipadan. A small motor boat arrived in the afternoon to take us to Seaventures Dive Resort, a rusty rig in the middle of the sea directly off of Mabul Island. We had organized this multi-day diving excursion in Kota Kinabalu, and although we could easily use Semporna as our home base, we wanted to be right in the sea-loving action. Plus, at Seaventures, we could dive directly off the rig during our free time. Divers are not allowed to stay on the island of Sipadan, but there are plenty of resorts and over-water rigs such as Seaventures.
What’s the excitement about? – Sipadan is world renowned for jaw-dropping, once-in-a-lifetime beautiful diving and is often rated as one of the best dive sites. Liz and I had read about the majestic awesome-ness of Sipadan and were eager to explore and dive as much as possible during our four-night stay at Seaventures. The main attraction at Sipadan is the 600-meter wall just off of the island, a veritable underwater aquarium. Twelve main dive sites lie off of Sipadan Island – the most popular being Barracuda Point, Turtle Cavern, South Point and Hanging Gardens. The entire area is teaming with over 3,000 types of marine life including barracudas, white tipped sharks, hammerhead sharks, lionfish, frogfish, huge turtles, octopus….the list goes on and on. We knew that we were in for the “dives of our lifetime.”
Nothing to do but dive…just the way I like it! – Our dive team completed ten dives in three days, racking up our dive logs and checking off list after list of sites to be seen underwater. The days usually commenced with a pre-dawn wake up call. After guzzling a cup of coffee, we suited up, checked our gear and boarded a motor boat bound for Sipadan, a short twenty minute transport away. Following two morning dives, we took a short break/nap on the island, completed one more dive and then returned to the Seaventures rig for lunch and an afternoon nap. Late afternoon dives often took us to Mabul Island or under the rig where we experienced some of the best mico-diving in all of Asia. (Think scavenger hunting while diving!) There were neon yellow-green eels and poisonous crocodile fish hiding in the sandy bottom. We had to search of these cuddly ugly creatures, but our efforts were well awarded.
Just…WOW – Since receiving my SCUBA certification in 2001, I’ve racked up quite an impressive diving log. Sipadan has far exceeded anything I’ve experienced thus far, and I got more excited with each passing moment. At one point, I was swimming with a dozen sea turtles above me and ten sharks below me! Turning around another bend was a school of hundreds and hundreds of jackfish. I swam into the middle of the school and was completely surrounded by the quick, silvery fishies. It was a struggle to keep up with them as they darted back and forth, but the extra swimming was well worth the effort.
Though we were free to dive at our own leisure during free time (with a buddy, of course), Liz and I were just too exhausted to incorporate additional diving among our already busy diving schedule. Instead, we read, ate (so hungry!), shared stories, and earned more about our diving team. The Seaventures rig had large, open areas that offered plenty of spaces to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Comfortable couches and deck chairs lined the railing, and we spend many hours waiting for sunsets or counting falling stars. The food was wonderful and plentiful, and there were always canisters of biscuits and fresh tea waiting to warm us up following our dives. We were well taken care of at Seaventures, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.