Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. It was formed on top of an extinct volcanic cone with living corals and took many thousands of years to develop. It rises 2000 feet above the sea bed; located on the east coast in the Celebes Sea off Sabah, Malaysia. The island is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, which the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. It has been revealed that more than 3000 species of fish and corals are a part of the island’s ecosystem.
There are many factors that make Sipadan as one of the famous destinations amongst tourists. The island has been ranked 1st on the Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List as ‘The Top Dive Destination in the World’. The place shared its top spot with two other diverse destinations known for their varied ecosystem. The green hawksbill turtles and frequently seen here; the place serves as their nesting and mating spot. Schools of tornado-like Barracuda and large species of big-eye trevally and Parrotfish are also known to be found here.
The ever so dangerous yet fascinating manta rays, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks from the carnivore fish species and whale sharks all visit Sipadan Island. If you’re researching on the different species of fish and marine life, Sipadan Island could be the beginning of your ever so great research project. A turtle tomb also lies beneath the column of the island which has been formed by an underwater limestone setting with another maze of tunnels.
Sipadan Island will prove to be a great break from the hustling & bustling city life of Singapore so back your bags and be prepared to experience an awe-inspiring escape from Singapore to Sipadan Island.
Why Make a Trip from Singapore to Sipadan Island?
One should definitely make a visit to Sipadan Island at least once in their lives. The marine paradise is best known for diving in its rich, underwater diverse marine life and sudden drop offs into the deep blue waters. The island has been constantly ranked as one of the top diving destinations in the world.
The diverse wonders of the island are easily accessible from the nearby town of Semporna. Being only 35 kilometers away, Semporna can be easily accessed by a ferry or a boat.
Another reason for travelling from Singapore to Sipadan Island is the ethereal beauty of the nearby Mabul and Kapalai Islands. For those of who might get bored of seeing Sharks and big turtles all day would want to travel to Kapalai and Mabul under 20 minutes to uncover the hidden treasures of the pipefish and nudibranchs.
A handful of sharks, sea turtles of varying species, triggerfish and manta rays are very common sights in the Sipadan Islands. If you’re ready to experience nature at its best antics, Sipadan Island should top your tour destination list.
Best Modes of Transport
Since you can’t directly fry from Singapore to Sipadan, two of the best methods of reaching the islands is via waterway ferry and the combination of air, bus & taxi.
Total time taken from Singapore to Sipadan Island is almost half day so make sure you start your journey early in the morning. If you begin your journey from Singapore’s City Hall train and reach Sembawang in 40 minutes, book a SMRT or call Comfort Delgro for a taxi which would take you the Johor Bahru Airport in 30 minutes. The one way journey costs between $26 – $32 SGD. Upon reaching the airport, fly on your pre-booked flight to Malaysia’s administrative town of Tawau. It’s almost a 5.5 hour flight costing $35 – $130 one way.
Another way to travel is to book a flight from Singapore to Kota Kianbalu, the capital of Sabah. From Kota Kinabalu, you can either book a flight to Tawau or take a bus.
On arrival at Tawau, book another taxi from Pertubuhan Pemandu & Pengusaha Teksi services and pay your way to Kunak, a small town in Sabah. The journey will take about 50 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic.
The Dyana Express buses travel Semporna and other places very often from Kunak; approximately 4 times a day. The bus reaches Semporna Jetty in 1 hour 19 minutes. Take the earliest ferry from Semporna to Sipadan Island; journey time being 1 hour 15 minutes, covering an almost 50 km distance.
Waterway – Ferry
The only ferry ride you can experience while going from Singapore to Sipadan Island is the one at Semporna. Instead of flying to Johor Bahru from Singapore, you can catch a direct flight to Lahad Datu, town which is a part of the Tawau division in Malaysia. The journey takes almost 4.5 hours and would cost you around 400 SGD for one way. Upon reaching Datu, book a bus from Dyana Express for Semporna Jetty which leaves Datu 4 times a day covering the time of 2 hours 25 minutes. Finally, take a ferry from Semporna to Sipadan Island; journey time being 1 hour 15 minutes, covering an almost 50 km distance.
Best Time to Visit Sipadan Island
Sipadan Island is famous for diving purposes and the diverse aquatic life. Even though the island is accessible 365 days a year, it is very important to know the best time for visiting Sipadan Island. The diving activity and other recreational tasks have fixed timings. The diving hours start from early morning at 6 am and go on till 4 pm. Night diving is strictly prohibited.
The weather tends to be quite unpredictable and uneasy which might make recreation difficult for the divers and other tourists visiting the island. In order to avoid boredom on your visit, plan a vacation to Sipadan during the months of April till June when the weather is immensely satisfying.
Related Article: Best things to do in Sipadan Island