To the north of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, lies one beautiful island with white sandy beach by the name of Sibuan Island. The small island is lined with towering coconut trees swaying to the wind. It suits the ideal definition of a paradise island where one wishes to lay in a hammock tied in between trees while enjoying a coconut drink. I had the opportunity to include diving in Sibuan Island during my dive trip to Sabah.
Sibuan Island is also known as “Battleship Island” due to its extinctive shape. Located approximately 30 minutes by speed boat from Semporna, the secluded stand-alone sandy island is the most photographed island after Sipadan. Sibuan Island is part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Semporna. There are no accommodations in the island but there are a few sea gypsies’ shelter lining the coastal area. A trip to Sibuan Island may be arranged through agencies and dive centres which mushroom near the pier.
After the transfer to Sibuan Island, the divers were sent to the marine park office for registration. Sibuan Island water was used by the dive operators based in Semporna to conduct open water training for the beginners. The island is also a macro divers paradise with a mix of sandy bottoms, rubble and sloping reefs. It is the best place in the area for frogfish, mandarin fish and hammerhead nudibranchs. Other underwater creatures that could be seen at Sibuan Island are crocodile fish, lion fish and scorpion fish.
The dive sites at Sibuan Island are the Left Shoulder, Mandarin Point, Mandarin Bay, Froggy’s and Hawksbill’s Highway.
We used Scuba Junkie as dive operator. As at November 2014, we paid RM270 for 3 days dive, including of equipment rental. We also had 10% off from initial price to RM270 on account of multi day dives with Scuba Junkie. My sister and I were separated as she wanted to be part of the advanced divers group. My dive buddy was Alina from Russia who was about to do her first fun dive as she just completed her open water courses the day before. Our dive master was a bubbly and petite girl whom we called Pnut.
We dove at three dive sites which are Left Shoulder, Hawksbill’s Highway and Froggy’s. We saw, among others, bubble coral shrimp, flounder, flasher scorpionfish, spotfin scorpionfish, twinspot scorpionfish, snowflake moray, yellow-edged moray, Pikachu solor boxfish, barramundi, white-spotted hermit crab, triggerfish, batfish, bumphead parrotfish, tasled scorpionfish, trumphet fish, cornet fish, sharksucker, porcupine fish, puffer fish.
The corals at Hawksbill Highway were astounding. Healthy and variety of hard and soft corals inhabits the sea floor. The currents were stronger as we accumulated our dive counts. There were moments when we drifted with the current, if taken off the course we had to paddle our way through or keep low to the sea floor. Either way, the air inside tank quickly diminished.