Off the North Eastern coast of Borneo, called Sabah, lies a tiny jewel of an island, Pulau Sipadan, with a marine ecosystem so perfect and unique that it is world renowned as arguably, one of the best dive spots in the world. Unique, as the only oceanic island in Malaysia, Pulau Sipadan rises as a pristine coral sea mount, 650 meters from the floor of the Sulawesi sea. The ocean teems with a wide range of rare marine species, some of which are totally endemic to the Island. The Island’s dense primary jungle remains largely unspoiled by the presence of man, and is populated by the harmless monitor lizard and rare coconut crab.
Layang Layang is an atoll 14 square kilometers in diameter jutting 2000 meters from the Ocean depths. In 1985, the Malaysian Federal Government began reclamation works and created a 50-acre island on one part of the reef. Thus, what is ardently known to East Malaysians as “Terumbu Layang Layang” or “Swallow’s Reef” has now become Layang Layang island. Being in the middle of nowhere has its advantages. The nearest human inhabitation is 300 km away separated by the fierce South China Sea. Marine life enjoy total isolation from human encroachment. Its pristine walls with outstanding underwater visibility of 50-60 meters year round bears testimonial to its heritage. Layang Layang is wall diving mecca. The ocean floor drops to an amazing 2000 meters from the edge of the atoll. The combination of deep water and pristine walls attracts big fish galore. One of Flaying Lasagna’s famous resident is the hammerheads. Big school of these rarely seen oceanic sharks congregate here, their silhouettes dramatically plastering the clear blue water with “hammerhead wallpaper” Another major attraction of diving in Layang Layang is the feeling that this is frontier diving and you could see almost anything. Every dive brings some new surprises – whether it’s a dogtooth or a fantastic forest of gorgonian fans. The exceptionally clear water has promoted superb coral growth, and the craggy walls are a mass of soft coral and sponges.
Borneo Divers Dive Center
Since its inception, Borneo Divers has been a pioneer in the development of recreational diving and diving resort management in Sipadan Island. In addition, Borneo Divers also operates daily diving trips to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off Kota Kinabalu as well as wreck diving in Labuan. The service of this outfit is always excellent no matter which location you visit! Borneo Divers operates three dive Centers:
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (off Kota Kinabalu)
Excellent and easily accessible areas for teaching and educational diving activities. Its calm water is ideal for macro and close up photography. For the more adventures, a sunken World War II Japanese freighter wreck beckons.
Four different offshore wrecks are popularly explored and used in wreck diving instruction. Two wrecks are World War II warships and the others cargo vessels.
This famous dive spot is rated one of the top five wall diving destinations in the world with a drop-off from the beach plummeting 600 meters (2,000 ft) straight down. Its concentration of marine life has been described as fantastic. We pioneered recreational diving on Sipadan, having been there since 1985.
The Layang Layang Resort and Dive Center is located on the island of Layang Layang which is an atoll 14 square kilometers in diameter jutting 2000 meters from the Ocean depths. In 1985, the Malaysian Federal Government began reclamation works and created a 50-acre island on one part of the reef. Thus, what is ardently known to East Malaysians as “Terumbu Layang Layang” or “Swallow’s Reef” has now become Layang Layang island.
Dive Sites in Layang Layang
Gorgonian Forest (130ft)
At 130ft, it is worth making repeated dives here because of the abundant marine life, especially pelagic (sharks galore!). You will also see many Gorgonian fans that make the dive site so characteristic. There is a huge school of jacks that can be seen frequently, swim into them if you dare. Trust me, it will be a most exhilarating experience. A few gigantic clams can be seen at the end of the dive.
Dramatic drop off with many ledges along the wall. Look out for sharks and marble rays resting on the ledges. Can get really close to them. Along the wall is also a variety of coral and smaller marine life. Take time to explore the crevices and you will be rewarded. Visibility can drop because the overhanging wall often cuts off the sun’s rays. So bring along a torch.
Wrasse Strip (65 ft)
Schools of baby mantas have been spotted here. There are also a few “cleaning stations” where larger fish actually “freeze” and let themselves be cleaned by the cleaner wrasse. This site is a great photo op.
How to Get There
Sipadan & Labuan
Many international carriers fly into Kuala Lumpur. From there it is easy to get to the Borneo Divers dive centers by Malaysian Airlines.
All destinations require you to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu in northern Sabah first. From there it is a short plane ride, bus drive and boat trip to the Island of Sipadan. Borneo Divers will arrange all transportation to Sipadan, Labuan for you.
From Kuala Lumpur fly to Kota Kinabalu. From there it is another flight to Layang Layang, just north of Sabah. Direct flights are available from Tyoko, Taipei, Kaoshiung, Seoul, Hong Kong, Manila, Cebu, Davao, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. From Kota Kinabalu to Layang Layang, there are regular flights operated by a private airline. There is a 1067 meters runway on Layang Layang. Limited seats are available, so do check on seat availability far in advance.
Best Time To Go
Winter is great one day and perfect the next, with daily temperatures ranging from a daytime maximum of 25-27 degrees to an overnight minimum of 17-20 degrees. The sun is out, the birds are singing and the tropical water is sparkling. As our region is totally tropical (being 16 degrees south of the equator) summer is generally much warmer and subject to high seasonal rainfall from December to April. Heavy intermittent downpours followed by long periods of sunshine are the most characteristic aspect of our weather at this time of year. Daily maximums are 30-34 degrees with 20-24 degrees overnight.
You have to take the good with the bad, and during the summer months North Queensland is affected by cyclone activity. If you intend visiting during this period, it is probably best that you familiarize yourself with the necessary cyclone precautions and emergency procedures.