Diving in Sipadan

We spent an awesome 5 days/4 nights on the Seaventures Dive Rig which is located near the island of Mabul, off the coast of Semporna, Borneo, Malaysia. Backing up- when Eileen and I were in Thailand together, we tossed around the idea of meeting up to do this dive. We weren’t sure if the timing would even work out, but they’re decided to pass on Myanmar, so it worked out! Eileen actually did the research and found this place which looked awesome. I was just happy not to have to plan anything other than my flights.

Sipadan Island (specifically Barracuda Point) is usually listed as one of the top 10 spots in the world to go diving. The government regulates how many people can dive there each day- currently allowing 120 permits per day. These permits are then distributed to the various dive companies in the area. Our rig had 11 permits per day. We were really lucky to get to dive there 2 days- 8 dives total. It was amazing. There’s really no way to describe what it’s like to be in the middle of a school of jackfish with huge bumphead parrotfish swimming around, turtles heading up for air and barracudas making a giant cyclone all at the same time.

We were lucky to come at a time when there was slightly less tourism. Couple of reasons why- there has been some social unrest in the Sabah state because of an upcoming election. There have been a few travel warnings issued, but nothing strong enough to deter us. There was also an attempted takeover of Sipadan island itself from some Sulu pirates, which was why there were plenty of army men with assault rifles roaming the island. Regardless, we probably would have had no chance of diving Sipadan two days in a row in peak tourist season.

The rig itself was also a lot of fun. You’re allowed to dive under the rig as much as you’re physically able to without decompressing. It’s rare that you find dive companies that have that ability. I logged my 30th dive ever by the end of the trip, and I think we did about 16 dives in those 5 days. We met an awesome group of med students from Belgium (the Belsh) and hung out with them the whole time. Such a fun group.

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