Diving at Sipadan Island: Jacque Cousteau’s Favorite Dive Site

Jacques Cousteau called this dive spot near Sipadan Island an “untouched piece of art.” Here's why.

What is it about Borneo? Few places carry such exotic connotations. Jungles filled tree-to-tree with pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, sun bears and orangutans. Head Hunters, crazy-looking bugs, rainforests, mountains. And that’s just above the water.

Borneo from below does little to dampen the romance. This massive coastline – Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world – is home to world-class coral reefs that are visited by pods of pilot and sperm whales, mantas, whale sharks, gigantic schools of devil ray and more.

But Borneo’s not just about the big things: some of the planet’s weirdest and most downright bizarre underwater critters also call these waters home. This includes blue-ringed octopus, bobtail squid, hairy frogfish, pygmy seahorse and more.

And then there’s Sipadan Island, a dive spot that legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau referred to as an “untouched piece of art.” This extinct volcano cone is a shoe in on lists dedicated to the world’s top dive sites due to its tornadoing barracuda, giant schools of sharks, bumphead parrotfish and jackfish. It’s also one of the last remaining places where 30-40 turtles can be seen on a single dive.

The London-Borneo express

Borneo isn’t much like Covent Garden. Particularly on a cold and rainy afternoon in December. Yet this is where my journey to those fabled jungles begins.

I’d arranged a meeting with Scubazoo’s Simon “Pieman” Christopher. Founded in 1996, Scubazoo are one of the most well respected and established underwater production houses in the business. Pieman explained they were in the process of launching a new online channel: Borneo From Below (BFB) would be the first ever ongoing series dedicated to Borneo’s marine world.

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