Shark in Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

Posing with Sipadan sharks

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I was dreaming about it, I'm here! I had kept a dazzling memory of my dives in Sipadan, three years ago. The ones today amaze me just as much. Turtles, sharks and barracudas are still there! It's spectacular. And so beautiful!

Turtles and sharks everywhere

Ah, Sipadan! A diving spot located in Malaysia, off Borneo, really unique, extraordinary. It is quite simple: at each dive, it is the almost guaranteed meeting with sharks and turtles...

This is my second trip here. And, as during the first stayI am amazed!

Turtle in Sipadan. (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.)

White tip shark. Sipadan, Malaysia. July 2009.

I'm lucky, I still very well, binomial question, like three years ago with Sabrina.

My new buddy for these dives in Sipadan is Linda. She and I became fast friends during this short stay - before, during and after our fabulous dives in Sipadan.

Linda and me in Sipadan ... Turtles and sharks galore !!! (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009)
Linda and I in Sipadan... Turtles and sharks galore!!!! (Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009)

Linda is an experienced diver, who has long been an instructor in the Red Sea. She also knows very well the funds of Mauritius because she has family there.

We were delighted to dive together, after having noticed that we were well "paired" under water. We could make our dives last quietly, until the end, in an autonomous way, without having to worry about the air consumption of the rest of the group.

Because on such a fabulous site, nothing is more frustrating than to have to shorten the time underwater because of more novice divers who "suck" their air too quickly. Today, for example, I came back up each time with 90-100 bars still in the tank... Frustrating, I tell you! (For those who don't know anything about diving, I had only used up half of my tank, filled at the beginning to 200 bars).

In short, I really fell in love with Linda as my partner. On this subject, read my little post for Magazinepublished in 2010:
The diving buddy lottery


Sipadan is amazing!

Linda did not know Sipadan. She hallucinated.

Even before the launch, several turtles come to greet us on the surface. When we go down in a garland of bubbles on Barracuda Point, we do not know where to turn.

Banks of fish-drivers and butterfly fish flutter at shallow depths. A huge batfish turns me around a bit to inspect me, then moves away.

Underwater, in Sipadan ... Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

Hafiz, our guide, beckons us to lift our noses. Dozens of humpback parrots stand out in shadow over our heads.

And then we come across a first turtle, which is nestling on the reef, the nose in the coral. Another comes to graze us, light, graceful, with a gentle movement of a fin. In the blue, close, file the gray silhouette of a shark.

Linda points her finger at the beast to make sure that I have seen it correctly. It is a white tip reef shark (also called a coral shark, Triaenodon obesus of its scientific name), the most widespread species, here.

You say I saw him. I'm already filming it, my camera at arm's length.

In Sipadan, sharks are everywhere! Borneo, Malaysia, July 2009.

But Linda's still reaching out to me. I turn around. Ah, there you go. Here's another one. That's good. That's good. That's very good. I've got it, my "reverse field"!

A few minutes later, we came across a school of jacks. A huge school !!! A cloud of fishes which waves around us, envelops us, then moves away...


But the best of diving in Barracuda Point is ... barracudas.

We fall midway on a large bench of large cattle. They really have an ugly face, with their pointed muzzle full of teeth. The wall of scales scrolls, no end ... Bigre.

And what do I do now for my "reverse field" in the current?

Barracuda Point, Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

Barracuda Point, Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

The bench goes away in the blue, leaving us dumbfounded, amazed.

Linda turns her head back, performs a small dance of joy.

Shark cleaning station

A little further, we arrive at a cleaning station. It is a plateau of debris of coral and sand mixed, which contrasts with the rich life of the reef. Small fish cleaners and other needy shrimp are at work.

The sharks come to rest there, on the bottom, to be made a beauty. If they don't feel disturbed, they stay there, quiet, without moving. The coral shark is one of the few sharks that does not need to swim constantly to breathe.

Sharks in Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

Shark in Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

The opportunity is too beautiful. We approach gently, not to scare the critters ... And we go the camera.

Posing next to a shark, I love it!

Shark in Sipadan. Borneo, Malaysia. July 2009.

Linda, as if in prayer, watches one of the sharks with her hands joined...


Small update : I went back to Sipadan in 2013, four years after this stay in 2009... And the sites remained exceptional, with still sharks, turtles, barracudas and jacks in a mess! But I was also better equipped for underwater photography, with my Canon Eos 7D in its boxacquired in 2010 and I brought back some otherwise more spectacular images, like the ones below... And I still managed to get my picture taken with a shark! 😆 All my articles on this new trip to Borneo from 2013 can be found here :

→ Indonesia + Malaysia 2013: Return to Borneo 

Spectacular, the school of jacks! (Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia, July 2013)
Spectacular, the school of jacks! (Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia, July 2013)
Shark and jacks. Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia. July 2013.
It's snack time for this shark that pops up in the middle of the school! (Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia, July 2013)

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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  1. well I see that you have fun!! you are right, it's funny that you talk about MAURITIUS because I just met a friend who lives there 6 months a year, so I start to seriously consider 10 days of vacations there in november,eh eh..... 😉
    Keep up the photos I can't get enough 😀

  2. Hey, did they move the panel where they destroyed the building behind?
    She looks like a fun gal pal Linda. I like her "karateka" way of doing the shark sign 🙂 You could send me her e-mail in mp to see if she could not give me private lessons... 😉
    Yes, it is infuriating to go up with 100 bars on such sites and so Corinne here is a disadvantage of traveling alone 😆
    For the anecdote, in Sipadan we usually left the group after half an hour and we tried to finish our blocks without exceeding 60 minutes as requested by the guides. One day we were obliged to recount the barracudas, then we were interested in the frolics of 2 and then 3 turtles revisiting the Kamasutra, which meant that we went back up after 70 minutes. The atmosphere on board of the boat was "heavy" during all the return. The next day, we were all alone on our boat. The guide explained us that the other people did not want to dive with us anymore because they had waited for us 3/4h 🙁
    Well your photo with the shark, but in Sipadan you have to be absolutely caught with a turtle, like this one:
    Enjoy it, lucky you... 🙄

  3. Yes, it makes you dream, and even makes you want to take a vacation, take a plane or two and go diving there! I'll have to go there one of these days, to Sipadan...
    In any case, thank you for this story and these photos!

  4. It's simply beautiful... I love it. Enjoy all these wonders and continue to share with us this beautiful trip.

  5. There are turtles that can be tamed. I walked on them for hours, in Mayotte. When they are fed up, they put themselves on their back or do a little rodeo. It means "give me a break" in turtle language.

  6. Hi Corinne,

    What good memories on Sipadan...I guess Derawan is for the next few days 😉

    We are also preparing the bags for Sumatra and plan a small trip to Pulau Weh and the banyaks... I hope to "find" some small treasures!

    good bubbles ° 0oO °

    friendly 8)


  7. @Laurence: According to Linda, it looks like Mauritius in some ways here, with the reef protecting the island in the distance... I must say that I too would be tempted by Mauritius.

    @Alimata: No, no, there is a building behind... it's the angle of the photo that must give this impression. Unless they moved the sign forward?
    I will pass on your admiration and your request for a private lesson to Linda. With her, the other day, we did as you did, we went up long after the others. It was very very good!!! These days, I had to settle for about 50 minutes each time, due to the lack of an air-saving buddy... But hey, I'm not going to start complaining!!!
    For the turtle, I have even better than your picture: a video!!! 😛 I'll try to post some pictures that move one of these days to prove my point!

    @ Marie-Julie: Tomorrow, I'll do a little post with a lot of pictures.

    @Malene: Yes, if you have the opportunity to travel to Malaysia, do not hesitate. Sipadan is really an outstanding site!!! The most beautiful dives I have ever done.

    @Cathy: Thank you for this! It's a great pleasure for me too, to read this kind of feedback. I will continue, I promise!

    @Sundance: I feel like I'm going to start using turtle language, too. They are very familiar here. Every morning, two or three of them come to breathe under the pillars of my room in Mabul. I love them!

    @Yann: Yes, I am going to Derawan in the next week. I will follow the travels of your little adventurous family on my side. That sounds like a great program!

  8. 🙄 Well tempting all that... I'll have to think about this destination one of these days....

  9. Bravo for the pictures Corinne! I really like the one with the divers and the school of jacks 😀
    Super sharks, they seem less stealthy than in Perhentians. I'm starting to think about it in Sipadan... Flight London-KL at 190€ AR with Air Asia... is there a scam you think??? 😯
    Hard the return to Marseille... yesterday the water was at 14° because of the Mistral... I miss the 31°! 😥
    Good next dives!
    A +!

  10. If you go to Mauritius go see my friend SOM from me (Michel du bateau) He came aboard my boat several months. It has a small sailing trimaran and offers cruises in the northern islands. Delicious Indian meal. You can find him at bay. Everyone knows him He is Indian and very long hair that goes down on the buttocks.
    During a ride in zodiac and at full speed he took the screwdriver that was at the bottom of the boat, slowed slightly while talking with me and skewer a jacks with. Put the gas back and continue his discussion !!!! Character that one!
    I dressed in the morning with pieces of combination. A true pathwork of colors. I sewed him with a son's skin. He kept the suit all day. In short, good memories with him.
    He can take you to the northern islands and the shark pit of the Pigeon Rock near the flat island. He has a shark Lepeltier rifle. This is not a professional, no diving dilme but excellent apneist.

  11. Hi! My first comment, even though I've been reading your blog since I discovered it a few months ago. Just a down-to-earth question about sidapan paradise. Are there any nasty mosquitoes at night? I'm thinking about a diving cruise to the Komodo Islands for next year (I'm not going on a whim!!), and a friend told me that in this area (Malaysia and Indonesia) mosquitoes are formidable and even on a boat you can't escape them.

    @Alimata What a story! The others complained of having waited for you? Even Parisians would not do that ... :-)

  12. @Manta: You would love !!! Sipadan is # 1 in my little best-of personal diving destinations in Asia ...

    @Anthony: Thank you!!! Sipadan has nothing to do with Perhentian. You can see a lot of sharks and turtles on each dive, in addition to the usual tropical fauna, incredibly dense and varied.
    For Air Asia, there is no scam. These are low-cost fares, so you will have to pay extra to benefit from services that are usually included in the ticket: food, choice of seat, extra luggage, etc. But all this is indicated on their website.
    Otherwise, to come back to the Perhentians, I finally made the trip back to the airport with... Peter! We chatted all the way (boat+taxi) and we talked about you! You obviously left a very good memory...

    @Sundance: Thank you for these indications! I intend to go diving in Mauritius one day. It's an island that attracts me a lot.

    @Max: Sipadan is really a "paradise" only under water. The island being guarded and occupied by the military, we do not stay there. We only go there for lunch, around noon, between two dives. On the beach where the divers accost, I noted the presence of sand-flies, these small annoying midges which sting, and it must surely have some mosquitoes in the evening.
    On land, it is necessary to stay in the neighboring island of Mabul or in the port of Semporna, which are far from our "tropical postcard" clichés. Few mosquitoes in Mabul if you stay on the water, in the houses on stilts: it is often windy, so few bugs.
    On the other hand, when I went to the Borneo Divers resort to take advantage of the wifi, I was pecked on the ankles (those damn mosquitoes must prefer to eat at the rich people's place rather than at the backpackers' place). But overall, I didn't find that there were that many mosquitoes in the area.
    It's true that Asian mosquitoes are tough, but a good repellent + long sleeves are enough to protect you from their bitter incursions.

  13. It's time to write in English!
    I commend you on a lovely website. I had a great time diving in Sipidan and especially with you. Thankyou 🙂
    I look forward to seeing more photos! 🙂
    Warmest regards and safe travels 🙄
    Linda, your buddy! x

  14. @Linda: Many thanks!!! I'm so happy to find your comment here, on my blog. The next dives in Sipadan after you left were great too, but I really missed my buddy... 😉

    Good luck in Jakarta !!!

  15. Top! So many memories! In particular an ascent from -46 m on the drop off with at the surface during all the steps, the huge tornado of barracudas and the finish in its center....definitely love this place! 8)