Scuba diving & snorkelling
What we say:
Sipadan is known for large species like sharks, rays and barracuda and was one of Jacques Cousteau's favourite dive sites. Sea turtles are abundant around Mabul and the off-shore dive sites are renowned for "muck diving" with quirky creatures like pygymy seahorses and nudibranches.
As many of the sites around Mabul and Sipadan are shallow coral reefs, it's also a paradise for snorkelling among sea turtles and massive schools of fish.
More than a dozen dive shops operate in Semporna and on Mabul, most of which are associated with a hotel or guesthouse. Simply because they can, dive shops charge 500-700 ringgit for a three-dive daytrip to Sipadan or 450-550 ringgit for snorkelling plus 40 ringgit for a Sipadan permit (there are only 120 available per day, so book well in advance).
Diving around Mabul is significantly less expensive with three dives costing 250-350 ringgit with equipment. It's also an extremely affordable place to do dive courses and PADI Open Water certification costs as little as 980 ringgit.
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