Borneo. The name alone conjures up exotic images of primitive cultures and remote tropical wilderness. Borneo's 900 mile coastline is bordered on the west by the South China Sea and on the east by the Sulu Sea and Celebes Seas and the inland area covers nearly 30,000 square miles and is located just north of the equator with daily year round temperatures ranging from 74-90 F.
||Located on Borneo, the world's third largest island, is the Malaysian state of Sabah which offers a variety of activities from mountain climbing jungle trekking and cave exploration to white-water rafting and SCUBA diving. |
Sipadan Island, located off the east cost of Sabah is in a class of its own when it comes to marine bio diversity. It is unique in that it is the only "oceanic island" in Malaysia in that it's not connected to the continental shelf. It caps a 2000 ft limestone pinnacle that mushrooms near the surface into a two acre island surrounded by acres of shallow reef. Sipadan means "turtle" in Malay and since it is a turtle sanctuary all dive operations that access the area are now located on Mabul Island about 45 minutes away by high speed dive boats.
Mabul Island is known as the home to the world's best muck diving and offers a good mix with the diving at Sipadan. In this part of the world, just 5 degrees off the equator you'll find the largest number of tropical marine life in any part of the world's oceans. You encounter so many large turtles that they become almost common occurrences. Schooling barracuda and herds of bump head parrot fish cruise the reef along with a seemingly endless variety of fish and nudibranchs. All this is part of the dive experience at Sipadan. Most dives are drift dives and if the current changes direction then you change direction with it. It's no wonder Stan Waterman and Jacques Cousteau among others have called this one of the best diving sites in the world.
Kota Kinabalu (KK) is your entry city for Sabah. The flight to Tawau brings you over to the east side of Borneo. A 2 hour ground transfer takes you to Semporna where you meet the boat for the transfer to Mabul Island. On the way back to KK you can add a stop in Sandakan to see the Orangutan Sanctuary and cruise the Sukua River. Or you can return to KK and climb Mt. Kinabalu, the highest mountain in southeast Asia and a vast and granite massif rising to 4,101 meters or 13, 455 feet into an outrageously exotic equatorial apline environment.
Trip prices for 7 nights/ 6 days of diving start at $1100 per person. For 9 nights with 5 nights at Mabul Resort, 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu and 2 nights in Sandakan including round trip air fare from LAX prices start at around $2200 per person.