Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
The islands around Sipadan are unknown and yet they are worth seeing. I dive there almost every day until the end of the week, waiting for my turn to go to Sipadan.
In the “appetizer” genre, these small islands (Mabul, Sibuan, Mantabuan) are fantastic spots.
The main one, Mabul, is inhabited. Whole families of fishermen, more or less sedentary "sea gypsies", live there in wooden huts on stilts, next to a luxurious resort for playful divers and longhouses rustic for low-budget divers.
The island is pretty, seen from the sea, but for this first time in the waters of Sipadan, I preferred to reside in Semporna, even if it means making the boat trip every morning.
Update : during my future trips to Borneo, in 2009 and in 2013, to dive in Sipadan, I will make a different choice, I will reside in Mabul to avoid this journey.
The port of Semporna is ugly, not very pleasant, I would not advise tourists looking for an exotic postcard to stay there. But there is a semblance of modernity that I appreciate: internet access (although not super fast), electrical outlets to recharge the batteries of the camera, restaurants, hot water, market, etc.
Small annoyance in my quest for modernity: I receive SMS, but I can not send. It's annoying, all the same ... Hum. I feel like a backpacker who gets bored!
During my many dives in Mabul, Sibuan and Mantabuan, I am not disappointed. The dive-masters are competent and know the funds as their pocket. I discover every day animals that I have never seen before.
Highly sought after frog-fishes aka frogfish (antennae), indolent and shapeless fish, disguise themselves as a sponge and wedge incognito between two stones, leaning on their fins which have become quasi-paws.
Crocodile fish, kings of camouflage too, merge with the sand. And, again, there is a truly incredible variety of nudibranchs ...
A treat for amateur photographers of which I am a part. We also meet the tropical underwater tropical fauna: batfish, moray eels, angelfish fish, clowns, parrots, etc. etc.
Between two dives, we decompress on the sand, time to eliminate the nitrogen accumulated in the body and regain some strength.
Military welcome on white sand
On each island, there are soldiers, who control the waybills of the boats, the names and the number of the divers. Security measures put in place by the Malaysian government since the hostage taking in 2000 by the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (the divers detained on the island of Jolo had been kidnapped in Sipadan).
It’s a little funny, all the same, when we land on these cute white postcard beaches with their coconut palms, to see guys in lattice arriving, some armed with an impressive machine gun, as a welcoming committee .
The bikini divers are for them the main attraction of the day ... And the French are of course entitled to a little ironic football commentary. Thanks Zidane!