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Tawau started out life as a small coastal fishing village, and at one time, from 70s to 80s, it was one of the world top cocoa producing regions. Many visitors to Tawau will visit the cocoa estate at Quoin Hill, and tour the factory to learn more about the cocoa story. Lately the palm oil plantation has also been given much attention to this area.
Located at the south-eastern corner of Sabah, Tawau has the only border crossing from Sabah to Indonesia. Daily ferries from Tawau bring passengers through the Celebes Sea to Nunukan in Kalimatan, Indonesia. Apart from Kota Kinabalu, Tawau is also another splendid place in Sabah to head for the seafood restaurants. True to its humble beginning as a fishing village, today Tawau has many seafood producers who export their products as far as Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore.
For the divers around the world, Tawau most important contribution is it Airport. Located about 45 minutes away from Tawau, the Tawau Airport is an important stepping stone to a small seafarer village called Semporna. From the Semporna jetty, divers are ushered into some of the world most beautiful dive sites.
Diving and Snorkelling Paradise:
Tun Sakaran Marine Park
Four islands that head the list of must visit diving paradises are Sipadan Island, Mabul Island, Kapalai Island, and MataKing Island. All these islands are surrounded by the deep and vast Celebes Sea.
Sipadan Island really doesn't need much introduction, it's hall of fame has reached through out the world diving communities. An oceanic island which rises 600 meters from the seabed, Sipadan island water is teaming with marine life. Once in the water, divers will be fascinated with thousand species of fish, and the colourful corals are just too beautiful to describe by mere words.
Mabul Island has become an important overnights destination, since all the accommodations in Sipadan island have been closed down since 1st January, 2005. A move to protect the ecology system of Sipadan Island. Although Mabul Island lacks the density of fishes compares with Sipadan Island, Mabul Island is rich with exotic small marine life. It even earns the tag as one of the best "muck-diving" sites in the world.
Kapalai island is actually a sand bar that lies between Mabul and Sipadan. Sipadan-Kapalai Resort, a stilts structure village resort, is built above the sea level. Guests at the chalet balcony can easily observe the squids and needlefish below. And diving session can be started just off the balcony. Like Mabul Island, small marine life are the most common attraction here.
Mataking Island is the furthest island from Sipadan, and it is a relatively new dive sites compare with the other three. There is only one resort at Mataking Island, and Mataking Island is popular for Marco and Pelagics dive.