Getting my Open Water Diver License and Diving in Sipadan

Now there are many questions asking if one is allowed to take his diving course in Sipadan, or is one allowed to dive in Sipadan without a license.

The answer here is, yes and no.

It is possible to take your open water license in Semporna, the mainland which is an hour boat ride from Sipadan.

kid on boat
Living on boat

A place called Sibuan Island. Pretty small, some minority tribes stay on it (they don’t have IC so I don’t think they can ever leave the island).

the sea

But with sand and beaches beautiful as a baby’s bottom.

fabien helping me with my weight belt

And water clears as crystal.

diving in sabah
Diving in Sabah

The chance to interact with the locals and experience life at sea

kid back flip into sea

kid sommersault into sea

I couldn’t ask for a better place to learn diving and earn my first scuba license.

me playing around in the water

checking weight belt
Fabien checking my weight belt for me

me wearing fins in water
Putting on my fins in water (god see how clear the water is?)

Four arrived for the course, but only two managed to pass with flying colours.

Ladies and Gentleman, I am now officially a certified PADI Open Water Diver!!!!

me in diving suit

You have no idea how excited I felt that day. I remembered screaming at the top of my lungs for joy the moment I ascent the water and spit out my regulator (after my instructor announced we passed underwater using sign languages).

And then I went for my first real dive after the license in Sibuan Borneo itself. Fabien led us this time.

Click on the video to see me attempt a boat dive for the second time (first time during the lesson).

You don’t get to do that in a pool do you?! Haha~ it’s so awesome!

And the answer to my first question, it is possible to learn diving in Sipadan? Yes, if you are pursuing your Advanced Open Water course, it is possible that they bring you out to Sipadan to learn because by now you are a qualified diver.

I didn’t pursue my Advanced course, firstly because of limited time, I was running short of days to stay in Semporna/Sipadan (oh god how I wish I can stay there forever) even though it only takes two days to finish advance course; secondly, I was running out of budget. It’s simply too costly to take up TWO diving license in such a short period of time.

But as a reward to myself, I booked a permit and a 3-dive ride into Sipadan the very next day.

That day, we were guided by (so they claimed) The King of Sipadan, DiveMaster Jeff, who has been diving in Sipadan for the past 10 years and probably know every single corals like the back of his fin.

king of sipadan
Really funny dude, lol

While Fabien (DiveMaster in training) was responsible for taking another team of Advanced Open Water divers out to sea that day.

me and fabien to Sipadan

We made a pit stop at Mabul Island (45 mins away from Semporna) to pick up some other divers staying there. Mabul is a simply magnificent, mind note to stay here the next time I visit.

I took some really nice photos and you can download the full photo here (I didn’t put any watermark so you can use it as wallpapers)

The first one is wide screen shot (because I own a wide screen LCD)

mabul island wide screen
Mabul Island_Wide Screen, Click here for large

mabul island
Mabul Island, Click here for large

mabul island 2
Click here for large.

We have the tanks and BCDs ready,

scuba tank and diving suits

The water’s blue and clear as ever,

clear blue sky~

Sipadan was ready for us.

sipadan island from afar
Sipadan Island from afar

Fabien have the Advanced Open Water Divers dived out of the boat following us beginners later with Jeff.

Here’s a video of them doing simultaneous boat dives.

Here you find many other divers from other boats and country

boat on sea
A group of rich Chinese divers (they have uniform custom-made pink and yellow diving suit and each of them has a underwater camera)

my first dive buddies on sipadan
My dive buddies chilling on board (the one standing comes from Michigan and has travelled for 9 months in Asia, 5 of which he spent in China and can speak fluent Mandarin, the other two are brothers who have also travelled for several months)

During breaks (dive intervals), we would head back to the island to chill or to have lunch.

sipadan island
Small island with no accommodation (rest house ashore)

my dive buddies in sipadan
Dive buddies playing ping pong

I found these two Caucasian kids playing DS Lite during dive intervals.

kids with ds lite and diving suit

Kids? Diving? Diving suit? DS Lite? Why don’t I have that kind of childhood when I was young?!!! @#!$!@#%#!%$&

I can only say that, Sipadan, IS A SUPA GORGEOUS PLACE to dive in. The coral reef, the drop off where you can see not hundreds, but thousands of fish circling inches above you, sharks and turtles every few metres away; where you will swim above a forest of corals of all shapes and colours and into the drop off below, you will reach a point when you can’t see the surface, the bottom, where there’s only water behind you and to your sides and facing only a wall, an endless HUGE wall of corals and fish.

Where the endangered green turtle as big as me minus the legs swim so close you can almost touch them, or dive into an underwater cave where you will find a turtle’s tomb where all the turtles lay in peace.

The only regret I have when leaving the island, was that I do no own an underwater camera (casing). Those magnificent views can only be left in my memories.

As we finished our last dive, the sun was reflecting beautifully on the deep blue sea. It was magical.

sun's reflection on the deep blue sea

(Video of me saying bye to everyone)


33 kissed Nicole

  1. Envy..........

  2. wow... really really nice! i wanna go!!!! and congrats on getting the diving license!

  3. nice sceneries :)

  4. I m jealous of U. :)

  5. I miss Sipadan alot too.

    U might also want to try Kapalai. it's gorgeous there too.

  6. What a beautiful place to visit!

  7. Thanks for sharing your scuba diving stories with us. You are an inspiration. I am definitely considering getting my license in KK too now.

  8. Congrats in being a member of the PADI family. :)
    I hope we could team up some time in future for a dive trip.
    Btw, Sabah is one of the top 3 divesites in the world, naturally, u are so so so lucky to obtain ur license there.
    I got mine in Tioman. :P

    Will be checking out some new dive sites next week in Cambodia.

    Cheers and many happy diving.

    Imp, Padi DM (Spore)

  9. congrats on ur dive license!

    diving is certainly really fun, and sabah looks freaking awesome for diving!!!

    may i know what camera were you using? damn the pictures look great!

    nice post there and i love it!

  10. Thanks for the pics, Nicole.

  11. when can i sail my yatch to sipadan with qualified diver(ess)?
    nice and you done well for tourism Malaysia... I am sure many other pictures are not shown to us yet, huh..

  12. O my goshh... those pictures are awesome!!

  13. ms-intoxicated20/3/08 12:37 PM

    Such an interesting trip! I'm planning for one right now ;)

    Btw may I know whats the camera model u're using?

  14. Sabah bagus bah!

  15. nice pic..its so nice i even use it as my lappie wallppr..thnx!

  16. Nicole, these diving things are just awesome!

  17. I admire your courage Nicole! I am really unsure if i am able to do so but i believe the feeling must be amazing!

  18. sabah so beautiful kan..same goes 2 da sabahan girls..LOL! (perasannyaaaa!!) anyway,congratz on yr diving! come back again for ur advanced course later ;)

  19. i fall in love with he place already

  20. good for you! unfortunately i wouldnt be able to dive again till next year. no more budget for diving.

    how much was it for your dive trip?

  21. welcome on board fellaz diver, dive safe and love our ocean

    east coast now open and can't wait to to jump into the water.

    Redang here I come....

    Please visit our website ok

  22. i envy you! what camera do you use?

  23. Wah. Paradise. I don't have that kind of childhood life too and I don't have this kind of adulthood life too. :(

  24. Good job on getting your license. I don't know how the other two could failed the test because the water is so warm and clear and peaceful. In Northern California, to get open water license, you do your test in freaking cold, 3' visibility muddy PACIFIC OCEAN at Monterey Bay with Great White Shakes visit once a while....

  25. 1st of all, congrats nicole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i would love to get a license there too. but the aus online info mentioned that sipadan is still not a safe place for caucasians to visit (which doesnt seem true from your diving buddies pictures) - do u have any advice on this? thanks! (would love to bring my angmoh friends that why =p)

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. ouch.. i just came back from redang recently

    looking at your pics, redang can sau pei jor!

  29. Congratulations, fellow diver!! Haven't read your posts for a while - but what a surprise!

    I went for a dive recently in Australia and it was fabulous! Not as great as Sipadan which I want to go one day - nevertheless visibility was at least 20meters! I could see the bottom of the sea from the boat! and Turtles too! ahahah check out my blog for pics!

  30. Hi Nicole,

    Thansk for your great pix. I am plannign a sipadan trip now, could you tell me which diving company you used?


  31. Hei,

    I am planning a trip to Sipadan too..
    I would like to know your agent..
    Drop me a mail at

  32. Yan-I eventually went to KK instead, but the tour company I used offers Sipadan trips as well. They were really helpful and nice.

    You can get Sharon from Scuba Paradise here:

    My trip write up here:

  33. What scuba school is the best? PADI or NAUI?
    PADI IDC Gili Islands