Layang Layang is located about 300 km NW of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. The island itself is a mere speck in the ocean, however, it is perhaps one of the best diving spots in the world. The island was formerly a sand spit on a remote ocean coral reef, but is now a man made island. The atoll itself rises over 2000 metres from the ocean floor, and sheer walls surround the reef. The water is generally exceptionally clear with visibility up to about 60 metres, with vibrant coral growth. The deep water and pristine walls attract big fish such as Wrasse, rays humphead wrasse, hawksbill turtles, dogtooth tuna and schools of hammerheads. Layang Layang is not for the learner diver or even new divers, but is perfectly suited to experienced and advanced divers.

Swirling Tornado of Barracuda


Plate Coral


Some of the features of the various dive sites are:

  • Dogtooth Lair Sometimes subject to large ocean swells, but always turns on the big fish, such as Dogtooth Tuna, giant trevally, big eye jacks, barracuda and large cod and reef fish.
  • Navigator Lane The reeftop hard corals are among the best you will see anywhere. The fish life is wonderful.
  • Crack Reef This is an incredible wall dive with ledges (cracks) in the wall. The drop off is over 1800 metres. Everything is festooned with barrel sponges, gorgonia and black coral. Leopard sharks, grey reef sharks, yellowfin tuna ans other large fish are also common.
  • Shark Cave Dive down a wall to about 30 metres to a sandy ledge, then along the ledge and up to 26 metres to the cave. The walls and ledges are packed with soft corals, black corals, gorgonians and barrel sponges. An average dive lasts about 55 minutes.
  • The Valley At a level of about 20 metres is a large plateau with prolific number of bommies and excellent hard corals, grey reef sharks, large schools of big-eye jacks and other reef fish. Large schools of small barracuda up to about 40 cm in length are also found in abundance, together with manta rays and giant trevally.
  • Wrasse Patch A family of five Maori wrasse live here and show no fear of divers. The reef fish are also prolific ā€“ it is a photographers dream.
  • Gorgonian Forest It is a spectacular drop off at the top end of the atoll. Along the wall at about 35 metres are large schools of big-eye jacks. There are also large schools of big barracuda which are extremely tame.
  • The ā€œDā€ Wall The wall is on the West side of the atoll and provides some good photography opportunities, particularly leopard sharks.

You can dive Layang Layang from March to August, with April and May being the best time for seeing schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks performing mating rituals. Note that the resort usually closes between November and January.

Thanks to Barry Andrewartha and Sport Diving Magazine for assistance in compiling the above information.Additional photographs on this page are courtesy of Pulau Sipadan Resort and Tours Sdn. Bhd