Pom Pom Island, a Macro heaven for photographers

Trip Reports

Posted May 19th, 2021 by Elisabeth

Blessed with some of the richest waters in the world, Pom Pom island offers some amazing macro diving. If you want long, up-close encounters with some crazy, tiny macro critters and the chance to photograph the smallest nudibranchs in the world, Pom Pom Island, in Sabah, Malaysia is the place to go.

Pom Pom has become more and more known as a macro destination over the past years. The area is also quite famous for the beautiful beaches and the vast amount of sea turtles.

Its more famous neighboring island, Sipadan, has long been attracting divers by the thousands to explore the steep walls surrounding the island. Meanwhile, only a few in-the-know macro photographers are diving the sloping, rubble reefs around Pom Pom island. Their reward is jaw-dropping encounters with numerous species of nudibranchs, shrimps and other rarely encountered macro life.

hairy shrimp pom pom island

I’ve been to Pom Pom island for the past 4 years and I have just returned from yet another great trip. This time, my spotter and macro-enthusiast buddy Ah Long, took me to a new site he recently found. The ‘secret’ site, dubbed Macromania, was said to have revealed an astounding number of rare and spectacular macro life including what some consider the ‘Holy Grail’ of nudibranchs, the Melibe Colemani.

Equipped with my 2 stacked macro wet lenses, I was eager to start photographing the 3mm – 1cm nudis Ah Long assured me we would encounter on this dive site.
Indeed, it proved to be a macro-lovers paradise! Just short boat ride from the resort, the gentle slope stretches from a shallow plateau at 5m to beyond 45m. The site, comprised predominantly of rubble, is home to some extraordinary nudibranchs, with new ones being found on a regular basis. We spent a minimum of 70 minutes on each dive at a maximum depth of 24 meters before being chased to the surface by our exceedingly irritated dive computers. There was just too much to shoot in too little time. Besides all the nudibranchs found, we also were able to spend some time with a Tiger shrimp!

Giddy with anticipation, we headed back to the resort to check out our shots, and were happy to have been rewarded for our endeavours. If you are a macro critter fan, this dive site is definitely a must. It is all about the small stuff here.

Pom Pom Spanish Dancer and shrimp

How to get there:

There are daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tawau. From Tawau, continue the journey by a 1hour mini bus drive to Semporna town. Speedboat transfer is from Semporna jetty to Pom Pom Island. The boat ride takes about 45 minutes.

Many thanks to Celebes Beach Resort and Andy Chong for the numerous stays over the past few years. A big thank you to Nurul Yazid and dive guides Ah Long Yong and Axu Kokkonen for showing me the tiniest macro life on the reefs over and over again.

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Trip Reports FAQs

How to travel to Pom Pom Island?

There are daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tawau. From Tawau, continue the journey by a 1hour mini bus drive to Semporna town. Speedboat transfer is from Semporna jetty to Pom Pom Island. The boat ride takes about 45 minutes.

What is an underwater macro wet lens?

Wet lenses are screwed on the front of the underwater housing port. They always have a layer of water between the front of the port and the lens, since water combined with air creates some type of optical element. Wet lenses have different strenghts from +4 to even +20!

What is a super macro lens?

In close-up macro photography most standard lenses give you a 1:1 ratio. For super macro, depending on your lens combination, you can get a ratio of 2:1 or even greater.

 

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