Sipadan Island is considered the pinnacle of diving in Malaysia and one of the top diving destinations in the world. Diving here is always good and sometimes it is simply awesome. The tiny rainforrest covered oceanic island forms the top of an ancient volcano that rises up from a 600 meter abyss in the northern Sulawesi Sea. There are several outstanding dive sites dotted around Sipadan's local reef system where you are likely to see sharks, turtles, manta rays and other big pelagics. Diving here is great for walls, drop offs and drift dives, it was only discovered as a dive destination in 1984 and even received an international boost when Jacques Cousteau spent several weeks here filming.
It is claimed that the waters around Sipadan have the largest turtle population anywhere. Most of them are used to divers and will even allow physical contact though this is rightly discouraged. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) can be seen on pretty much every dive at Sipadan, there is even a Turtle Cave, a macabre site where the remains of less fortunate animals can be found. While the turtles are protected here they are killed elsewhere for their meat, hide and oil, eggs are also collected for sale on local markets.
In order to preserve the rich marine diversity of Sipadan, the island has been declared as a protected national park reserve and as of 1st January 2005, all resorts based on the island of Sipadan itself closed down. The best way to dive Sipadan is from one of the local resorts on the neighbouring islands of Mabul and Kapalai.