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Hello kind Wet Pixelers.

 

Has anyone done any diving in Borneo? If so, do you have any recommendations for diving locations? I am interested in animals large and small (I am travelling with a 15 mm and 60 mm macro lens) but am travelling on a budget. I am travelling for 5 weeks and am mainly planning to be on the malaysian part of Borneo but will venture to Indonesia if there is worth while diving!

 

Many thanks,

 

Matt

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If you want to dive Borneo, Sipadan is the "must go" dive destination. It's not as good as before, but still good. Just a heads up, you may see a lot of mainland Chinese tourists there. There isn't any pelagic diving in Sipadan, the chances of seeing whale shark is very rare. The Barracuda vortex (it's what makes Sipadan famous) is very very rare now. In Sipadan, school of jack fish is quite common, so is bumper head parrot fish. White/black tip sharks are common too, turtle is almost everywhere, in one dive I saw 10 turtles.

 

If you want to dive in Sipadan, the budget dive operator to use is "Seaventure", they're oil rig turned into dive resort, they have dormitory for people who're on the budget, the food is great. One thing you have to know is when you dive in Sipadan area, you only go to Sipadan 1 or two days, the rest of the trip are diving in Mabul/Kapalai, which is sandy bottom and mostly for macro stuff.

 

I also recommend switch things up, go dive with "Scuba Tiger", they're budget dive operator in Semporna area, which is 30 minutes away from Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai. They have dive package that will bring you to east side of Borneo such as Bohey Tulang, PomPom island etc. These area are more for macro diving, but the beach and water are gorgeous. If you stay with Scuba Tiger, food is not included, you have to go eat at a cafe near by, or go to town to buy your own grocery. They have laundry facility, so it's a true budget place.

 

I came back from my Borneo/Sabah trip in March, here is the video that I made:

 

Moses

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That's an amazing video! Do you do it professionally? Thanks for the advice, that's great!

 

Thanks! I don't do it professionally, I'm trying to get to the professional level if I could and may be enter contest. I have passion to teach as well, so may be once I have the proper credential, I might teach UW video as freelance work.

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I like Mabul for muck and the Seaventure rig is good...again be prepared for lots of Chinese mainland tourists... try to go with Mabul area operator ...Scuba Junkie good ..

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I enjoyed Layang Layang for the hammerheads although the macro is a bit limited.

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Layang Layang is very expensive, almost 2x the price of Sipadan, and the chances of seeing hammerhead is rare now because they go very deep. The hammer head season in Layang Layang is also unpredictable, some said March, some said April.

 

BTW, Tip of Borneo has some cool macro dive, at lease from the photos that I saw. Tommy's Place is the only dive operator at Tip of Borneo at the moment.

Edited by kc_moses

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How are you @mattmarinegreen? Its been a few years since i have dived sipadan, but in 2014 i spent 6 months working for sipadan scuba, based in semporna, and had the pleasure of doing roughly 100 dives at sipadan. It was very rare that we would not see the barracuda school. If you dive barracuda point (one of the dive sites) at low tide you would almost always see them, and usually you would drop in right on top of the massive school of jack fish and then coma across the barracudas afterwards. Allthough i never saw a whale shark there, there were days when other dive operators had seen them. A saw a few leopard sharks and of course so many sharks and turtles i couldnt count them.

Im sure that sipadan was better 20 years ago, but so was everywhere else. And sadly, i doubt it will get better in the future, so it is a must see.

I really enjoyed the diving at all of the small islands around semporna too. I saw loads of cool things like frogfish, mandarine fish, pipe fish, cuttlefish, many types of scorpionfish, eagle rays, turtles and was even luck enough to see a whale shark at sibuan island, and spend about 10 mins diving with it and my 13 yr old open water student.

The problem with diving sipadan is that you have to book a minimum 3 days accomadation and diving package in order to get a permit as there are only 100 permits each day to dive sipadan. However, on numerous occasions during my time working for sipadan scuba we were able to upgrade people for just the price of the permit if we had any extras available. So i would certainly reccommend this company. Unfortunately semporna is pretty horrible, but if your out diving all day you can always find great indian/chinese/malay food for dinner and get a good nights rest.

 

After my time working in borneo i did a 7 day liveaboard trip through komodo national park in indonesia, and to be totally honest, the diving there was even more amazing, and the 7 day trip with all meals included, and i think 24 dives, cost me about $1300 ausd. So this would definitely be another option!!!

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Hi there,

Sipadan is good for the barracuda tornado, giant sea turtles, pelagics, panoramic seascapes, there is a lot of beaufitul corals and many sea turtles just at 5m depth (beautiful seascapes in natural light).

Mabul and Kapalai are excellent for macro (ghost pipefish, frogfish of all kind, pygmies, flamboyant cuttlefish, nudis, octopus, and a lot of juvenile). At low tide at night, can just walk around in 50 cm depth and photograph a lot of macro and juvenile critters.

Layang Layang is good for hammerheads during the mating season (march-may), staying a week in a a minimum as it's only accessible via charter flight.

Mataking and surrounding islands are good for macro. Lankayan is also good for macro.

Not all the resorts on Mabul have Sipadan permits.

The recommended ones are: Seaventures (they have a dorm option), SMART (mid range at good prices), Borneo Divers, MWB (luxury on stilts), Mataking (they have guaranteed Sipadan permits but are further away).

There is only one Sipadan liveaboard, the Celebes Explorer. Advantage is that it's possible to dive almost everyday at Sipadan.

If you stay 2 weeks, a good combination is either Sipadan (stay on Mabul) and Mataking or Sipadan and Layang Layang if it's during the hammerhead mating season.

Best season for visibility at Sipadan is March till July. July is busy touristic season so the best time is March till June. 1st week of may is also busy, so not recommended.

The malaysian riggint has dropped a lot since last year, meaning the usd streches a lot more and there are good deals to have all year round at the mid-range resorts.

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