If I sum up Sabah diving in one word, it is diversity. Whether you are into muck diving or colorful coral, this region of Malaysian Borneo will leave you speechless.
The uniqueness of Sabah dive sites lie in that you can see both sea fans, large pelagics and say, pygmy seahorses and frogfish, in a single dive. It’s truly one of the most complete diving holidays in the world.
Yet, most travelers have only heard about Sipadan Island and its resident barracuda tornado. While that is reason enough to visit, the state of Sabah has many other gems. In fact, some of my favorites lie outside Sipadan! Read up for a brief guide.
Si Amil Island, Sipadan Barrier Reef
Diving Season: Mar. to Oct. for best visibility
What if I told you there’s an unspoiled island, filled with a resident school of Devil Rays that far of numbers any rays seen at Sipadan Island itself? Not only that, but that it’s also sprinkled with abandoned World War II buildings and a hilly rainforest to marvel at during your surface intervals?
Welcome to Si Amil!
Only an hour away by speedboat from Semporna, Si Amil’s nine dive sites have everything from big pelagics and fantastic variety of sea fans and hard coral to colorful macro and World War II wrecks.
Night dives are quite special here as well, with sightings of bamboo sharks and rainbow runners being a common occurrence. Better yet? With all eyes on Sipadan, Si Amil remains one of the last frontiers of Sabah diving.
Insider tip: make sure you ask for a Si Amil Island boat trip at the time of booking, as many dive resorts only plan trips there upon request. I can confirm this from my experience at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort. Speaking of which, if you still want to dive Sipadan, Borneo Divers is one of the few resorts that offer you not two, but four boat dives on a single Sipadan trip for no extra charge.
Seaventures House Reef
Diving Season: Apr. to Dec.; best in Jul. and Aug.
During my stay at the Seaventures Dive Resort, I was marveled at the incredible marine life and artificial reefs right underneath it. Large schools of yellowtail trevally, tiny cuttlefish, cute juvenile yellow box fish, and giant groupers are some of the daytime residents of this converted oil rig.
You can even see schools of glassfish feeding by the surface from the highest platform of the rig!
At night, a whole new world is unveiled: from elusive red orange/blue spotted flamboyant cuttlefish and schooling pipefish to Chevron barracudas and fat moray eels grace you with their presence. It was fascinating to see such a volume of macro and schooling fish in a single dive.
As I enjoyed unlimited house reef dives during my stay, I can assure you Seaventures is one of the best dive sites in Sabah. Don’t miss it!
Labels: Sabah, Scuba Diving Vacation, Semporna, Sipadan Island