At least one full day is always required for diving or snorkeling in Sipadan.
For this reason, guests are usually required to stay 3 days or more (as diving on arrival and departure day is not possible).
It is only permissible to be on the island at certain times of the day (usually between 08:00-16:00). As such, your dives around the island will begin and end during this time frame.
You’ll get at least 2-3 dives in Sipadan, and the boat that takes you here will usually be shared with other snorkelers or divers.
Sipadan diving packages
Sipadan diving requirement
In 2013 it was announced that only Advanced Open Water Divers or Open Water divers with a minimum of 20 log dives are allowed to dive in Sipadan. This is likely due to strong currents present at some of the dive sites as well as instances of novice divers descending too deeply and/or rapidly.
Sipadan dive permits
In an effort to protect the island’s pristine state, a permit system for visitors was put into place by the Sabah Parks authority in 2006.
All visitors to the island now require permits, which are issued to just 120 visitors per day for snorkeling or diving. See here: Sipadan resorts with permits.
During peak periods, there could be as many as 600 guests staying in all resorts. As a result, not everyone is guaranteed a permit.
How to increase your chances of getting a Sipadan permit.
When to visit
Sipadan diving may be experienced at any time of the year, as the island isn’t affected by the monsoon.
The dry season is the most popular among visitors (March right up to October), where visibility is the highest.