August 30, 2013 Sipadan island, off the coast of Malaysia, has often been voted as the best diving location in the world. Several sites around the island allow divers to see beautiful coral formations, geologic structures, and an unmatched variety of wildlife, including sharks, manta rays, devil rays, sea turtles, barracuda, trevally, parrotfish, and much more. There are over 3,000 identified species of wildlife that live in the surrounding ecosystem, the most diverse in the world. Unlike all other Malaysian islands, Sipadan grew from a natural pillar of corals, which themselves are planted on an extinct volcano, and the island walls drop 600 meters straight to the ocean floor. It is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. Since the island is located so close to the equator, the waters are always warm and clear, so diving conditions are perfect year-round. Since 2002, travelers have been banned from staying on the island, and often stay on the nearby islands of Mabul, Kapalai, or the town Semporna, which are short boat rides away, and also have excellent dives. The island is open from 0800 to 1500 daily, and no more than 120 divers per day are allowed on the island. The island’s protected status keeps it pristine and ideal for dive vacations. For vacationers who want to try diving in Sipadan, budget and luxury packages are available through a number of local companies. Sipadan packages usually include several days and nights at one of the local resorts, transportation to and from the airport by land and boat, and three dives per day. Dive equipment is usually not included in the price of the package, but can be rented separately. Most dive packages can be booked online, and since the island is so popular among divers, it is necessary to book well ahead of time to reserve a spot. Local resorts and dive instructors teach divers from around the world, and staff are almost always multi-lingual, or at least English-speaking. Diving certifications are available for inexperienced divers (get useful Scuba Diving Tips). Diving in Sipadan is a must for anyone who wants to experience world-class diving. With its unparalleled beauty and amazing weather, it is no wonder this island has been voted among the world’s best dive sites. Dive packages are an excellent way for any diver to experience the world’s most diverse ecosystem.