89 years ago in 1933 under the British Rule, the Sandakan Forest Conservators declared Sipadan as a bird sanctuary and was announced in the official Gazette. It was re-gazetted by the Malaysian Goverment back in 1963. Sipadan is only 12 hectares and is covered by pristine rainforests, making it a perfect habitat for birds.
Sipadan is home to about 50 species of birds, some of the highlights are the Nicobar Pigeon, Grey Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Black Naped Fruit Dove, White Vented Whistler, Frigatebirds and the Tabon Scrubfowl. 50 species is only the estimate of regular visitors and residents to the island, not including rare species that may show up during the migration period.
BIRDing locations + trails
Birds are found along the beach forest, but to enhance your chance of spotting birds, a short jungle trail is available and a guide assigned by Sabah Parks is compulsory.
Many different accommodations such as resorts, lodges, homestays and hotels are available in Semporna town and its surrounding islands to cater to the high volume of tourists.
Sipadan is about an hour’s boat ride from mainland Semporna and to enter the island, a permit through a licensed tour operator is required ranging from RM300 to RM800 per person for a day trip.