This dive site is located to the northeast of Sipadan. To get your bearing right, the only jetty in Sipadan is facing just about north. Access to Barracuda Point is by boat for about 2-3 minutes from the main beach at Sipadan. Dive depth is between 15-20 metres. Some noticeable yet mild currents, but occasionally could be strong.
Please note that this was the second dive that I had done at Barracuda Point. I first dived here back in 2006, which the dive report can be read here.
Barracuda Point was the first of the three dives that I was supposed to embark for that day. The ocean across the deep channel between Mabul and Sipadan was at its usual condition - choppy and dizzying. After obtaining our dive permit at the main beach and gearing up for the dive, the divemaster for the day briefed us about the dive site. Basically, Barracuda Point has all the ingredients to be one of the world's most thrilling and spectacular dive site. This dive site, together with the whole island of Sipadan, has documented more marine species that the Great Barrier Reef combined. His description could not come at the most suitable time, as all of us in the dive boat were raring to go to see the stuff underneath.
First and foremost, Barracuda Point is known for its super-strong current and I could not agree more. The momentary float above the surface while waiting for the rest to jump in was rather dramatic as we were swept left and right, mercilessly at that, by the strong ocean surge. Everyone had to hold on to to a rope by the boat in order to stay within the dive group.
I descended down to a large boulder coral (Porites lutea) that thrives right over the edge of the 600-metre drop off. The descent was not particular easy as the currents at some metres depth were equally punishing as they were above. In the middle of adjusting my buoyancy and fighting off the current, I had a quick glimpse of the famous school of bumphead parrotfish which is legendary by itself. No photo though, sorry. Some metres down, I saw a white-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) patrolling over the drop off. Further up, our group ran into a medium-size school of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) that seemed to enjoy the extra push from the strong currents.
Right after the bigeye trevally, the real thrill began. Slowly and surely, an ever-growing concentration of chevron barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) began to congregate some metres above our heads. Our divemaster had instructed us to hold on to a rock while looking up to enjoy the view. Up there, while still resisting the massive current push, I managed to catch a glimpse of the school of barracuda which by a quick count, could easily amount to hundreds, if not thousands. It would probably take more than a set of stronger arms and a relentless will to wait for the much-anticipated barracuda tornado that makes this dive site famous the world over. After some whiles, with most of our group running close to half-tank, we decided to pay heed to the strong current.
After such excitement, the rest of the dive became rather subdued. In general, there were still plenty of things to see between the hard corals or the grottos, but I particularly find my buoyancy still to be an issue which hindered me to descend to the same level as everyone else. The fish variety at that depth was probably not as good, but I did see a timid regal angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus), a big-nose unicornfish (Naso vlamingii), a number of chevron barracuda isolated from the rest of the school, another white-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) and a few green turtles (Chelonia mydas), one of them was extremely large.
Everyone pretty much ran out of air after 30 minutes of descent due to the strong current. Truth be told, it was one of the hardest dives I had experienced, a sentiment regretfully shared by the divemaster as well. Yet the chance to witness first hand the treasure trove that was the massive school of chevron barracuda will be cherished for years to come.
Barracuda Point, truly a thrilling dive.