Diving Sipadan Island
In a nutshell, this is a wall dive which begins with a drop-off just over a metre from the surface, descends gradually to a terrace at about 70 metres and then plunges into an abyss. This is the topography here - hence its name 'Hanging Gardens'. The terraces, filled with a proliferation of Dendronephthya Alcyonarians in various pastel colours of lemon, lavender and antique rose overflowing down to the next level, harks back to the mythological Babylonian gardens after which it is named.
To the underwater photographers out there, take a close look at the alcyonarians and gorgonian fans which adorn the wall - among them you'll find various microlife nestling in its branches and polyps.
Within the cavities and crevices on the wall, you'll find colonies of sweetlips, gobies, hawkfish, emperor angelfish, moray eels and coral groupers lurking around. Turtles are a common sight when you're diving Sipadan and this site is no exception; in particular, green turtles and imbricate turtles. Don't be surprised if you come across dozens of ribbontail stingrays as well.
Spend some time watching out towards the open Sipadan sea as well, where you can find schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks, and occasionally, if you're lucky, the extremely rare thresher shark, or fox shark. If you do come across it, the thresher shark, with its long upper tail which it uses to beat or thrash its prey, is a difficult sight to miss.
Hanging Gardens Reef Basics: Wall diving along a vertical drop-off
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 20 - 30m
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 26 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 1
Diving season: All year round
Distance: 13 km (26 minutes) south from Mabul and 11 km (19 mins) southwest from Kapalai
Access: Mabul and Kapalai dive resorts
• Sipadan Island travel information
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• Sabah - Borneo - Malay Peninsula
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