How to Get a Permit for Sipadan
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The permit system was introduced in 2006 by Sabah Parks to protect Sipadan's pristine natural beauty and underwater diversity.
Only 120 permits are issued each day across 12 tour operators. Sipadan permits allow visitors to spend just one day on Sipadan and the permit allows them to scuba dive or snorkel.
During peak season, the resorts around Sipadan can house more than 1000 visitors per day, making these permits highly sought after and not at all guaranteed for all guests.
Diving and snorkeling at Sipadan is only possible during certain hours of the day, generally 08:00 – 16:00.
All diving operators are familiar with the time restrictions and will coordinate dives during these times.
Sipadan permits cost MYR 40 for a specific day.
Sipadan permits can only be obtained as part of a resort's complete package.
During peak season, it’s important to ask the resort about the minimum stay required in order to secure a Sipadan permit as availability is tight.
It is always recommended to stay at least 3 or more nights on one of Sipadan’s neighbouring islands in order to increase your chances of securing a permit to Sipadan. The logic behind this is that diving at Sipadan takes an entire day, meaning that guests would not be able to dive on their arrival or departure days.
Sipadan permits are issued on a rotation basis, meaning that if you stay at a particular resort for a longer period of time, you are more likely to receive a permit through your resort. In fact, resorts are generally able to guarantee that guests that stay a specified number of days will receive a guaranteed permit, independently of how many resort's guests are present at that time.
Fewer visitors increase the chances of getting a permit for Sipadan, so it is a wise idea to visit outside of Sipadan’s peak season.
Aside from the holidays (Chinese New Year, Easter, Christmas, New Year, 1st week of May and 1st week or October). Sipadan and its surrounding areas are busiest between July and August.
Some resorts allow the pre-booking of s a specific date for a Sipadan permit. It is then necessary to book as long as possible in advance to avoid that all the resort's allocated Sipadan permits are booked for a given date.
Issuing a Sipadan permit requires a fair amount of paperwork, which is why it’s always a good idea to book your stay as early as you can and begin the process early.
If you have not been able to get a permit before you arrive, it’s a good idea to ask about Sipadan permits as soon as you arrive at your chosen resort.
Although this method is not recommended as a sole tactic, it is sometimes possible to replace no-shows on Sipadan dives. There are some complications, such as:
Some dive resorts offer the option to join another dive operators with a permit. Meaning that even if the quota is reached for a given day, another operator will take you on their Sipadan trip at an extra cost.
We are the Sipadan Specialists and can help you to get a Permit to Sipadan.
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