Hello friends. Just want to report about our dive trip to Sipadan in Jan. The diving was pretty good, though the waters were slightly cool for me (although not for the young S African boy who was diving with us in shorts). Before booking the trip, we were told by Mabul Water Bungalows (where we stayed) that they could only gurantee one day-trip to Sipadan during our six days of stay. But January (and should I say, these last couple of years) is off-season, and we managed to go pretty much every day to Sipadan island. I think part of the reason is that this area has seen several kidnappings/shootouts over the last couple of years (I was told, four incidents spread over four resorts, although here in Hong Kong papers we only saw coverage of the young lady from China who was taken by her kidnappers to Philippines, and later released after perhaps ransom was paid). Anyway, all this hasn't really deterred the brave Chinese: over half of the people staying at MWB over our trip were snorkelers from China. This probably explains why MWB has created additional wooden frames as artificial reef over almost 100m along the shallow waters off their resort. I am sad to say that the real cost of these kidnappings shows up pretty clearly -- now there are four armed guard on this, and I'm sure, every other resort, 24-7.
About the diving -- it was very good to be back in Sipadan. The schools of baracuda, jacks and bumpheads were there. The leoprad sharks were missing, but it seems there a lot more white tip and grey reef sharks than the last time I was there, a decade ago. We took the opportunity to dive into turtle cavern this time -- I havent' dived any caves before except the one in Palau, and got to say this one is pretty interesting once you stop thinking about the poor turtles who suffocated to an early death here.
Here is a link to my trip report and images. And a couple of images to add some color to this post :-).