Sipadan Island Malaysia
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Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan in Malay) lies off the coast off Malaysian Borneo. The island is known above all for some of the best scuba diving anywhere in the world.
The islands were previously disputed between Malaysia and Indonesia, leading to instability and a highly publicized case of 20 tourists being kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels in 2000. However, an International Court of Justice decision sided with Malaysia, and the area is now regularly patrolled by the Malaysian navy.
Getting in requires some effort. Most visitors fly down to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur (3 hours) or Kota Kinabalu (50 minutes), continue by minivan to the port town of Semporna (2 hours) and from there to Sipadan itself (60 minutes).
All resorts on Sipadan are now closed in order to preserve the island in a pristine state. Diving is still permitted and possible by day-trips from nearby town Semporna. Alternatively, there are also resorts on the nearby islands of Mabul (20 minutes) and Kapalai (15 minutes).

Things to do

Sipadan claims to be the world's best dive site. While this is an exaggeration, the diving here is certainly world class. Sipadan used to have resorts but to save the environment they are now closed. To dive on Sipadan you have to stay on some of the nearby resorts. From the main beach of the original resort, it is a mere 20m wade over the reef to be reach the top of the reef wall dropping 600m. Turtles and white tipped reef sharks will be seen on almost every dive and hammerhead and leopard sharks can also be seen.
Note that a barge accident on 15 May 2006 did some damage to the reefs at Sipadan, crushing a portion of reef on the old pier and Barracuda Point and dumping its cargo of gravel in the area. This was not one of the best dive areas, but cleanup operations and other repercussions may restrict diving in coming months, the situation is unclear.

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