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Sipadan Mabul Island
 

The late Jacques Cousteau, a world-renowned oceanographer, once described Sipadan Island as an untouched piece of art while divers around the world have voted it as one of the top five dive sites in the world.

Rising 700 metres from the sea floor and at only 12 hectare, Malaysia's sole oceanic island is very small in size. A 25-minute walk is all that is needed to circle the island on foot, but the huge amount of diverse marine life it attracts from the blackness of the open sea is simply mind-blowing. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, this crown jewel is a treasure trove of some of the most amazing species out there.

The dense vegetation on Sipadan supports a large variety of tropical birds that include sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. Exotic crustaceans including the amazing coconut crab roam the beaches and scurry among the undergrowth. Encounters with turtles, resident schools of jacks, bumphead parrotfish and barracudas are almost assured when diving around the tiny coral island.

In addition, Sipadan has ten dive sites, including Barracuda Point, Coral Garden, The Drop Off, Hanging Gardens, Midreef, South Point, Staghorn Crest, Turtle Cavern, Turtle Patch and Whitetip Avenue.

Located only about 15 minutes by speedboat from Sipadan, Mabul Island has gained its own recognition as one of the best muck diving (a term used to describe limited visibility dives at shallow sites with usually sandy bottoms) sites in the world.

Mabul is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200 hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25 - 30 metres deep. Mabul is considerably larger than Sipadan and could not be more different. While the interior of Sipadan is untouched tropical forest, Mabul is predominantly made up of actively producing coconut trees.

Mabul is also renowned for its amazing array of macrolife, making it an underwater photographer’s dream location to capture some of the rarest ecological species on film. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray eels are just some of the spectacular critters you will encounter beneath the waters of Mabul. There are seven dive sites in Mabul, including Crocodile Avenue, Lobster Wall, Ray Point, Seaventure, House Reef, Eel Garden, Froggy Lair and Paradise.

Although all the excitement is underwater, you can always set your scuba gear aside for a day to laze on Mabul’s soft sand to work on your tan. Day time activities include relaxing, snorkeling, fishing or exploring the local fishing village.