I know… I am lucky I had the possibility to dive both of those amazing places. And don’t get me wrong, both my Sipadan diving and my Komodo diving were great. But for me, one stood out clearly above the other. I ll explain hereunder why by commenting different aspects in this Sipadan versus Komodo post!
On both places, I was (is)land based, so I had to do daytrips to go to the diving spots. In Sipadan, we used a speedboat that brought us to the island of Sipadan in half an hour. The boat was rather small, you had to sit next to eachother, could not really talk because of the engine noise and got wet during the whole trip by speeding into the waves.
In Komodo we did daytrips with a big (slow) boat with sun roof deck, eating area and divedeck . There were beanbags and mats to chill out after or before diving.
Clear win: Komodo
A big aspect for me as a budget diver is the total cost.
In Sipadan, I stayed on Mabul island with a total package deal (accommodation and all meals included). I did this to be assured to have some sipadan diving days, cause as you could read here, you need a permit to dive Sipadan and by booking a package, you got one. My (low season) 4 days/ 3nights package costed €1030 and I did in total 17 dives, 8 of them Sipadan dives. If I roughly count €50 a night (which is a lot!) for accommodation (I did not take the dorm one, so this is why I take €50), it means diving and food costed me €830. Divided by 17 gives me the price per dive, which is €49.
In Komodo I did day trips meaning only breakfast and lunch were included, dinner and accommodation not. I did 30 dives spread over 10 day trips and paid €1038, parc fees included. Divided by 30 dives, makes the price per dive here €35.
It is a hard comparison, but taking into account all the Komodo dives were effectively Komodo dives, while only 8 out of 17 Sipadan dives were real Sipadan dives and that the difference is quite high, I think Komodo wins this one.
Way of diving
Diving Sipadan was easy. We head out to the island (30’ boat ride), and do the divespots around it. No current, no difficulties getting back in the boat. Very straightforward, very easy. Also very hot (28/30 degrees Celsius)!
Diving Komodo is more complicated, especially the north part. Heading there can take up to some hours and you are away the whole day for the three dives. You can expect big currents and rather cold water (up to 24 degrees Celsius). Also don’t underestimate the diving! I ll always remember the ‘totally lost in space’ turtle flying by in a current stream while holding on to a reefhook myself.
Although the challenges of Komodo make it more fun, the ease of diving Sipadan deserves this point. Winner: Sipadan.
The visibility in Sipadan was good, but not extraordinary with 8-15m’s. Maybe it had to do with the time of the year (November) I was visiting.
Komodo differed but had overall visibilities over 20m and some spots were just like in this national geographic dive videos.
Point for Komodo
A very important aspect… What is there to see..
Sipadan has amazing reefs with plenty of fish. I saw stuff in Sipadan I had never seen before, like the sailfish cruising by, the huge schools of jacks and ofcourse the hammerheads in the blue.
Komodo also has amazing reefs. And they have mantas. Lots of Mantas. (like on almost every dive!) And sharks.
Hard decision here, but Komodo slightly wins. Although this might be a subjective judgement. Komodo: half of a point. J. Comparing with the non sipadan dives that are also in the “sipadan” package: Komodo clearly wins.
Last but not least.. The dive buddies. The difference was so huge that I decided to write something about it too. Don’t get me wrong, all the people I met on both of the locations were great, so that is not it. But it seems to me one place attracts clearly way more advanced divers than the other.
In Sipadan, looking at the dive schedule I saw this: open water, open water, open water, open water, advanced open water, advanced open water, rescue. With my almost 250 dives and divemaster cert I turnd out to be almost on every dive one of the more(or the most) experienced divers.
In Komodo I saw this: open water, advanced , rescue , rescue, divemaster, divemaster, instructor. I met guys in Komodo with over 8000 dives.
While I personally recognize that cert cards and even number of dives don’t say everything, I must say that I am always happier to have a 100+ dives buddy than a fresh open water. (that is on paying dives, in my free time I happily dive with everybody!).
So therefore: win Komodo.
|Boat||Speedboat. Not social/cozy||Slowboat. Fun and social|
|Way of diving||Easy. No curent. Warm||Colder. Currents.|
|Visibility||8-15m (november)||+20m (october)|
|Marine life||Plenty! Hammerheads!||Plenty! Mantas!|
|Buddies||More beginning divers||More advanced divers|
Conclusion: Based on personal experiences as described above, I would pick Komodo as the ultimate winner. But ofcourse, there are not really losers here :).