Sabah has been voted one of the worlds top diving locations. The island of Sipidan, off the east coast of Sabah, was endorsed as one of the top dive spots by world- renowned diving legend, Jacques Cousteau. From macro life to pelagics, wreck diving to walldiving, coral gardens teeming with a rich diversity of corals and fish, underwater caves with sleepy sharks and a cavern where turtles go to die the diversity will amaze.
Some 3,000 species of marine creatures, were first found and classified while diving the sites in Malaysia, such as Sipadan. Layang-Layang and Lankayan are the latest hot destinations that offer frontier diving if you’re looking for something new and fresh. Lankayan has seasonal whale shark sightings and Layang Layang offers some fabulous encounters with pelagics. Labuan is famed throughout Asia for its wreck diving. Mabul and Kapalai are world-renowned destinations for muck diving.
Only 2 hours by boat from Sandakan, on Borneo’s North Eastern tip, Lankayan successfully combines subtle luxury with unspoilt natural beauty that all you can do is relax and soak it all in. Apart from the resort, the tiny island is unpopulated, covered in lush tropical vegetation & fringed by an unbroken ribbon of soft white sand. Bright macro & fauna, muck, wonderful wrecks, and frequent whale-shark visits (between March and May) are all minutes away. Lankayan is also a sea turtle nesting site.
Gaya Island is a stunning coral outcrop just 40 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, on Borneo’s north coast. Richly eco-diverse, it’s one of five islands comprising the Tunku Abdul Rahman NP.
Gaya’s forest is home to long-tailed macaques, hornbills & monitor lizards, while its coastal waters safely harbour 7 of the world’s 8 Giant Clam species, amidst a profusion of colourful reef-life.
The island offers fabulous diving, snorkelling, swimming, and – somewhat unusually, amongst Borneo’s proliferation of tiny tropical islets – a number of inland trails, through both rainforest and mangrove swampland.
Mabul, about a mile off Borneo’s North-Eastern coast just below Semporna, is barely a mile long and home to 2,000 villagers, most of whom live by fishing the richly stocked seas nearby. Mabul itself is especially great for muck & macro, with an abundance of small exotics like frogfish, hairy squat lobsters, bobtail squids, pipefish, pygmy seahorses…
About an hour from Sandakan by speedboat, Selingan has the largest turtle conservation project of all the islands around Sabah. Apart from the astonishing tropical backdrop, the turtles are the main reason we visit this island. You’ve a high chance of seeing a hatching or egg-laying throughout the year, with both hawksbill and green turtles coming ashore in their hundreds to nest. The nests and eggs are protected by conservation staff, and if you visit the conservation centre you may get the chance to handle a baby turtle hatchling, just before it’s released into the sea.
Pom Pom Island
Two-thirds of a mile long and about 40 minutes North-East of Semporna, tiny Pom Pom Island is paradise in miniature, from its cheerful wooden jetty to the fabulous array of nudibranch and other colourful marine creatures that cluster round it.
An atoll topped with rich tropical vegetation and ringed with beautiful white sand, Pom Pom is ideal for diving, snorkelling, swimming and kayaking, with beach sports and a spa for anyone who feels like staying on land.
Surrounded by some of the best diving in the world, Kapalai is only 15 minutes from famous Sipadan Island, while excellent snorkelling can be found by simply swimming from the Kapalai Sipadan Dive Resort. You can rent diving gear from the resort’s dive centre, and there’s broadband if you’re itching to provoke envy amongst your friends by emailing them those dive photos. Non-divers who’d like to have a go will find PADI qualified instructors on site.
You can find additional informations to organize your stay here.