Beaches and Islands Series 2
Ligitan island is surrounded by very large reefs which forms the Ligitan group islands on the edge of the continental shelf. While Sipadan has achieved worldwide fame, Ligitan island is the great 'secret' of the international diving community. It is the thrill of diving in unexplored waters that brings the world's best divers here to sample Nature in her most pristine form.
The underwater scene here is completely different from Sipadan's. It is a macroworld of great interest featuring rare fauna including dragonets, fire gobies, wasp or leaf fish, gurnards, the odd 'little dragonfish' or seamoth, the tame crocodile fish, giant frogfish, blue-ringed octopus. ribbon eels, mantis shrimp and crab-eye gobies, to name just a few.
Indeed, the Ligitan group is regarded as one of the world’s top destinations for underwater nature photography. There is certainly no shortage of subject matter!
I have seen other places like Sipadan - 45 years ago - but no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art.' That is how Jacques Costeau, the legendary French undersea explorer, described his first visit to Sipadan.
Little wonder the island is considered one of the top five diving destinations in the world. It offers swirling tornados of barracudas, jacks and hammerhead sharks, schools of brilliantly-hued reef fish and dozens of sea turtles swimming placidly in the crystal-clear waters. More than 3000 species offish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this richest of ecosystems.
Sipadan lies five degrees north of the equator In the Sulawesi Sea (Celebes Sea). Like many tropical islands it is heavily forested and surrounded by sandy beaches. Sipadan was formed by living corals growing growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano, which rises 600 meters from the seabed.
A unique feature of Sipadan is the so-called 'turtle tomb', an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain the skeletons of turtles that became disoriented and then drowned. Divers can and do explore this cavern, but caution is advised.
April through October is the best time to visit. The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius) year round.