There are approximately 30 dive sites around Mataking Island and the surrounding islands of Pandanan, Bohayan, Timba-timba and Buhai Dulang. The marine life close to Kalapuan shore is just as magnificent as those found in the deep end; the house reef literally lights up in the night. Diving in Mataking and its neighbouring islands is truly an exhilarating experience. Especially the variety of small creatures will fascinate you. Dive sites around Mataking itself,include, but are not limited to:

  • Lobster Lair (guess you will find a lobster if you keep your eyes open)
  • Nudibranch Heaven (you will find a few Nudibranchs there)
  • Coral Garden (this is where you will find a bit of coral)
  • Barracuda Point (Barracuda perhaps)
  • Eel Garden (check out the Morays)
  • Picturesque Reef (take your camera with you)
  • Sweet Lips Rocks (great for night dives)
  • Hump Head Point
  • Turtle Playground (the turtles here will just ignore you)
  • D’Wall
  • House Reef (fascinating Marine life and coral formations between 5 and 12 metres depth)

Around Coral Garden, in the clear water you can see medium sized boulders, encrusting corals and also a good spread of Acroporus. There is a lot of marine life, and you will see Mandarinfish, Frogfish and even lobsters going about their lives in their natural habitat.

Emperor Shrimp on a Sea Cucumber


Pygmy Seahorses are very common around Mataking Island, but because of their size and camouflage they are often hard to discover. You don’t need to worry; the well-trained Divemasters will find them for you. Harlequin and Robus Ghost Pipefish are another species with extremely good camouflage. One is trying to blend in to the environment as good as possible while the other tries to mimic dead sea grass on the seafloor.Thorny Seahorses have been seen looking for food at the deeper end of some dive sites while the majestic looking Mandarin fish shows off its colourful patterns in the very shallow part of the reef. Scorpion Leaf Fish is a strange looking fish but not as weird as the variety of Frogfish that can be found in the sea around Mataking Island.

Blue ribbon eels are found on many dive sites and Nudibranchs in all shapes and colors will delight you on virtually every dive. The very small and harmless Bamboo Shark usually hides under rocks during the day and becomes only active at night. In sandy areas you can find different kind of gobies. Many gobies live together with a blind shrimp in the same burrow, whereby the Goby acts as watch guard and the shrimp as the cleaning lady. This is not the only symbiosis to find on Mataking’s reef. Anemones provide shelter for various Clownfish families. The clownfish, immune to the poison released by the anemones tentacles, often lay and hide their eggs just next to the anemone, where they will care for them until they hatch.

After sunset various crustaceans and invertebrates leave their hiding places on the search for a meal. Cuttlefish also getting active after at night time. The cuttlefish is the master of camouflage, its special skin pigments give it the ability to suddenly change it’s colour and shape.Not only small marine life can be sighted at The Reefs more than 30 dive sites. Mataking’s proximity to the Alice channel, a deep-water channel on the east side of the island, makes the encounter of pelagics possible. Schools of Tuna and Barracudas come close to the reef as protection from bigger predators. Eagle Rays use the upwelling currents from the deep-water channel as food source and a comfortable way of travel.

A crab on staghorn coral at the house reef at night


The sight of Green and Hawksbill Turtles is also common on Mataking reefs.For the true big fish fan, dive trips to world renown Sipadan Island can be arranged. A day trip excursion from Mataking with 3 dives on Sipadan’s reefs will explain you why the island has been rated as one of the top dive sites in the world. Thousands of Barracudas whirling around you like a tornado is an experience you don’t want to miss. The sea below turns black when huge schools of big eye trevallies approach, twisting and turning such as a single massive creature. Big aggregations of Bumphead Parrotfish grazing at the top of the reef, eat hard corals and leave nothing behind but sand. Harmless White Tip Reef Sharks and Leopard Sharks patrolling the reef or resting at the seafloor are seen on almost every dive. When the current picks up, Pygmy Devil Rays, Grey Reef Sharks and with some luck, even schools of Hammerhead Sharks appear right out of the deep sea. Occasionally in March and April, the gigantic Whale Sharks make an appearance on their migration path to south. But the truly unique attractions are the Green and Hawksbill Turtles of Sipadan. Seen literally on every dive, and very used to divers, they will just ignore you and let you take their photographs, even at the closest distance.

Plate Coral


Swirling Tornado of Barracuda


Thanks to Mataking Reef Dive Resort for content
Additional photographs on this page are copyright to David Lim, Mataking Reef Dive Resort and Pulau Sipadan Resorts and Tours