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The Semporna region is the diving and snokelling paradise of Sabah. At this vicinity there are two marine parks, including the world-famous Sipadan Island Park and Tun Sakaran Marine Park which have a very high level of marine diversity. Both Parks were established about the same time in 2004. Sipadan the only oceanic island in Malaysia, attract scuba divers from all over the world. Reef Sharks, Hammer Head Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Turtles, and host of fishes are what made the divers come back for more. The Semporna Islands Park, which is another name for Tun Sakaran Park, is formed by eight islands and three reefs. Hard and soft Corals, with a wide varieties of reef fishes like, Anemonefish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Cardinalfish, Damselfish, Surgeonfish, and Wrasse are found here.
Sabah is located on the northern part of the Borneo Island, the third largest island in the world. It has a land mass of 73,619 square kilometres, which is just slightly bigger than the Washington state of USA. Two thirds of Sabah shoreline are surrounded by seas and with its long shoreline, it also comes with many tropical islands, as many as one hundred, which range from the habitable big ones to exotic tiny ones.
Last century a prize winning book called “Land Below the Wind” which was written by celebrated American writer Agnes Keith, has created a lot of interest from the Western world to explore this wonderful mysterious land. Today with avid promotion done by the state government in many developed countries and also via words of mouth, Sabah is fast becoming the popular choice for an ultimate tropical vacation.
Resorts and Lodges that have allocation of permits by Sabah Park to dive at Sipadan Island.A long time ago go diving at Sipadan Island is a straight forward thing. You can dive at the island as long as you feel happy. And as long as you can afford the fee. Today this is not the case any more. Since 2005 when the conservation of the island started, Sabah Park only allows 120 persons, including divers and snorkellers, to visit Sipadan Island on a single day. Permit costs RM 40 per day.
Mabul Island lied 35 km south east to Semporna town, a fish village on the south eastern part of Sabah. With an area of 200-hectare, the island is quiet flat and is almost completely covered with coconuts trees. Beautiful sandy beaches surround the oval shaped island, and guest can easily walk around the island in less than an hour, and during low tide Mabul Island seems to be bigger as the shoreline extends further out to the sea. Wooden houses, on stilts with atap roof top are inhabited by the Bajaus, can be seen at numerous spot on the Island. The Bajaus are traditional fishermen and with their generations of pass down knowledge on the Celebes Sea, today many of them work as boat men, ferrying divers to Sipadan Island and the other surround Islands, including Mataking Island and the Kapalai reef.
Sipadan Island was not even in the world map until in the early 80s when a group of divers from Sabah stumbled upon this magnificent underwater world. After that slowly but surely Sipadan Island is on its way to International fame. Through the few that have been here and with words of mouth, Sipadan has steadily attracted divers from all over the world. Even the great Jacques Cousteau was in awe with its beauty, especially the abundance and diversity of marine life. Because of the Island enormous economical potential, Indonesia also laid claim to this small oceanic island, and in the years 2002 the International World Court handed the dispute to Malaysia.