This tiny island, located 240 mi/385 km from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, still offers world-class diving for experienced divers. About 50 ft/15 m offshore is a spectacular 2,000-ft/610-m underwater drop-off covered with marine life, including the island's famously abundant population of sea turtles. Experienced divers will find that a drift dive along the drop-off viewing a swirling vortex of thousands of Chevron barracuda is an extraordinary experience. Divers staying on neighboring islands frequently make the short boat ride over to Sipadan for its spectacular diving.
After an incident in 2002 involving the kidnapping of more than a dozen Western tourists from Sipadan beach by a group of Filipino terrorists, the lodges at Sipadan were torn down and the island became both a protected bird sanctuary and an underwater protected area. A government-sponsored attempt to reopen facilities on the island ended in disaster when a barge loaded with construction materials went aground on the island and completely destroyed one of the world's best dive sites, Barracuda Point. If you've never been to Sipadan, get there quickly.
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