Barbee Travels travel blog

Heading to Siamil Island for some diving.

Sea turtles are cool.

Hopefully the White Tip Reef Sharks already ate.

Size comparison. Big enough.

Barracuda and sea turtles.

Diving with Alan.

Like parachuting, but underwater.

Looking out from inside Turtle Tomb.


We arrived in a rainy Semporna around 1300. We booked accommodations at the Dragon Inn, a floating village on the waterfront. After asking around, we found our dive operator Sipadan Scuba and finalize our arrangements for the next three days diving. Our last day of diving will be at Sipadan which is supposed to be the best dive site in the world. I am looking forward to the diving here and how it compares to the Red Sea because I was very impressed with our diving last year. The first day we dove off the island of Mantabuan, a 45 minute boat ride. We would make three dives at this site over the course of the day. Between dives we did our mandatory surface time exploring the island. It was a tropical paradise. During our first dive we saw some amazing coral and fish during our 57minutes under water exploration. After an hour on the surface walking around the island and doing some snorkeling, we headed out for our second dive of the day on the back side of the island which only took a 5 minute ride. Again we experienced some amazing underwater life and coral formations. We had our last dive in the early afternoon and I was beginning to grow tired after lots of sun and great diving thus far. It was a very enjoyable day. The second day we dove a site called Siamal. The diving was just as great as the previous day. The third day we dove the best dive site in the world at Sipadan Island. The area we are diving is off the Malaysian, Borneo coast and is ringed with a number of islands. The last island, Sipadan, is the only island of the group formed by a volcano. It is not on the continental shelf as all the other islands. It is out in the deep ocean. The island rises 600 meters or about 1800ft from the sea floor. Because of these geographic feature lots of large marine life can be found here: sharks, barracuda, tuna, sea turtles, and thousands of other types of marine life. On rare occasions hammerhead sharks can be seen. Our first dive was amazing! We started with a wall dive down to about 80ft and in just 5 minutes we were swimming with white tip reef sharks, turtles, and schools of angle fish. It was a fantastic experience. It was the best dive site I have experienced out of my 31 prior dives. At the end of the dive, we ended up in a coral garden, the best I have ever seen. Our second and third dives were on the opposite side of the island. Again both were wall dives. On the second dive we experienced swimming through a school of Jacks and a school of Barracuda. The highlight of the dive was swimming up through the center of a school of Barracuda with a large sea turtle circling in the center of it all. It was an amazing experience that we did not want to end. We also swam into turtle tomb, a cave where the skeletons of 70 plus turtles, a dolphin and shark were found. We could not go back into the tomb itself because we were not cave certified divers but we had a great view from the mouth of the cave looking out into the deep blue water. The mouth of the cave was down at 18m or about 60ft down the wall. After enjoying the scene for a few moments, we headed back out to the wall and worked our way back to the surface. Just as quickly as the day started it was over and time to head back to Semporna. The boat ride was nice because the sea breeze was cool. An amazing three days of diving was over and now it was time to head back on the road to complete our final 10 days of adventure in Malaysian Borneo. First we have to return to Kota Kinabalu and make some travel arrangements for Gunung Mulu.

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