Built on stilts over a sandbank, the Sipadan Kapalai Resort is a unique water village which gives you the thrilling experience of watching reef fish swimming underneath your water chalets during your leisure time. Winner of our 'Dive Resort of the Year' award in 2010, this is the place to go to for an idyllic ocean holiday.
This environmentally friendly resort stands alone on the mile long sand bank of the Ligitan Reefs located in the Sulu Sea. Your days will be filled with sun tanning on the beach or your private balcony, and marvelling at the world class dive sites around Kapalai and Mabul, as well as day trips to Sipadan Island with its outstanding wall dives. Each trip ends with great food and freshly cooked snacks after diving.
If you've never tried macro diving before, then you're in for a treat - what a place to start! Shore diving at Kapalai is free of charge, as is the wonderful snorkelling, where you can watch the spectacularly colourful mating mandarinfish, right under the resort jetty. It's easy to fall in love with macro diving when it's this simple!
Special rates apply for Malaysians and expatriates with Malaysian work permits. Please contact us for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Destinations:Sipadan Island (Diving environment: wall diving, drift diving, advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: shark action, turtles, schooling fish/big pelagics), Mabul (Diving environment: beginner & advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: great macro life/marine diversity), and Kapalai (Diving environment: beginner & advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: great macro life/marine diversity).
Where park permit numbers allow this will mean a 3 dives in Sipadan. All Sipadan dives are done in the morning with refreshments served between dives, with the dive boat returning to the resort in time for lunch. Alternatively it will be a 3 dives day around Kapalai and Mabul, except for 2 dives on the day of arrival (depending on arrival time) and none on the day of departure. The number of dives quoted in the packages above is based on 3 dives per full diving day.
Kapalai Dive Resort offers a guaranteed visit to Sipadan Island with a minimum 4 days/3 nights scuba package. Permits to Sipadan island are not transferable. For shorter packages or for diving Sipadan more often, there is still the chance to purchase permits on arrival, depending on availability. Permit fees and diving service (approx. US$ 195 per diver) will then be paid on arrival (if permits are obtained). Certified divers need to have a minimum of 15 logged dives to dive Sipadan dive sites . Please ask us for more details.
Resort diving includes:
Dives (as detailed in the packages above), unlimited self-guided shore and night dives in front of scuba centre, boat rides to sites, experienced English-speaking divemaster (maximum 10 divers per DM), tanks, weights and weightbelts, drinking water, soft drinks, hot drinks, snacks, Sipadan permit fees (from 1 April 2019 onwards) and taxes. Diving excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own):
Scuba equipment (approx. US$ 38 per day), Sipadan permit fees (approx. US$ 26 per person for 3-4 nights dive package, or US$ 51 per person for 5-8 nights dive package) payable in advance. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash or credit card). Optional extras:
Extra boat dives at Kapalai, Mabul or Sipadan, dive computer, scuba insurance. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
Resort accommodation includes:
Bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking water, soft drinks, hot drinks, snacks, return resort transfers from Tawau airport and taxes. Accommodation excludes (mandatory):
Malaysian tourism accommodation tax - MYR 10 per room per night (approx US$ 2). Single supplement on single travellers only, payable in advance. Semporna jetty fee (approx. US$ 3 per person per tour booking). Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival. Single Supplement:
This is a compulsory additional charge on single travellers for the sole occupancy of double/twin accommodation. Optional extras:
Alcoholic drinks, internet access. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
How to get there:
The resort is located on a sand bar called Kapalai. It is a 45 minute speedboat ride from the port of Semporna. Kapalai will provide a return transfer from Tawau Airport to Semporna and Mabul.
Recommended Tawau arrival flights:
From Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2121 (07:25-08:15)
From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia AK5744 (07:00-09:50)
From Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines MH 3093 (09:15-09:55)
You will be picked up at Tawau airport and transferred to Semporna on the day of your arrival if you arrive Tawau airport before 14:00 hrs. Otherwise you will need to overnight in Tawau or Semporna. From Semporna the boat transfer departs every day for Sipadan Kalapai Resort at 10:00, 12:30 and 15:00 hrs. Only if you arrive on the morning flights will it be possible to dive that day.
Recommended Tawau departure flights:
To Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2134 (18:25-19:15), MH3056 (21:05-22:05). Air Asia: AK6261 (10:20-11:05), AK6263 (15:05-15:55), AK6267 (17:10-18:00), AK6265 (21:45-22:35);
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5745 (10:15-12:55), AK5747 (13:20-16:00), AK5749 (15:40-18:25), AK5741 (18:55-21:40).
To Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines: MH3092 (10:20-11:00)
Transfer times from Sipadan Kapalai Resort to Tawau Airport are 06:30, 09:30 and 13:30 hrs. Please plan 3 hours between resort departure and flight departure time.
Note that special transfers can be arranged for groups. Individuals/couples can arrange private transfers at additional cost. For more details see our Sipadan resorts travel section. Flight information changes frequently. You are responsible for booking the correct flights.
Dive clubs and group discounts:
Groups of 9 guests or more - 1 extra person can join free of charge.
If this is your only planned visit to Borneo Malaysia then we strongly recommend that you consider a 2 night add-on stay at the Sepilok Nature Resort, Sandakan in Sabah, to allow you to witness the not-to-be-missed jungle adventures with orang-utans.
Diving around Kapalai is exceedingly easy because of the generally shallow sites. The resort offers speedboat trips with 3-4 boat dives per day to its neighbouring islands of Sipadan and Mabul, except for 2 dives on the day of arrival (depending on arrival time) and none on day of departure.
Where park permit numbers allow, you will make a 4 dive trip to Sipadan. All Sipadan dives are done in the morning with refreshments served between dives, and the dive boat returning to the resort in time for lunch. Alternatively it will be a 3 dive day around Kapalai and Mabul.
Dive boats specifications:
Monohull speed boats
Maximum 10 divers per boat
Dive guides are provided on trips as well as refreshments. Unlike the other resorts in the area, the boat returns to the resort in between dives. Boat journey time is about 15 minutes.
Night dives, jetty day dives and sunset dives to see the mandarinfish, are available free of charge with a dive buddy.
The Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort provides a host of facilities for you the diver, non-divers and your family.
See a real life Finding Nemo saga unfold beneath your feet!, land on the beach for a game of volleyball, or simply relax in the resort watching satellite TV.
Resort facilities include: restaurant and bar - pool table - board games - darts - table tennis - beach volleyball - sea canoes - international telephone and facsimile - internet access including personal laptop connectivity - baby sitting - sun deck - gift shop
Location: Kapalai Island, near Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia
Currently, the nearest re-compression chamber is located in Semporna, on the Sabah mainland. Use of the chamber is expensive so please dive safely. We suggest you take out suitable dive insurance and bring the necessary details.
1 divemaster and a small supply of emergency oxygen is provided for each dive boat, and oxygen is available back at the resort.
For non-scubarelated emergencies, there is a hospital at Semporna.
The resort has deposit boxes in reception to safely store your valuables whilst you are away enjoying your diving. The police and Military are on active call service at all times.
"EXCELLENT! We loved the resort, it was beautiful, well maintained, friendly staff who went over and above to make sure we had a great stay. The diving was excellent and we were lucky enough to have GREAT DMs taking us out and making every effort to show us things we wanted to see and take us to sites we wanted to dive again, etc." - Hillary Twigg, Australia, 13 March 2014 ...
"Excellent Resort. It was clean and all the staff were incredibly helpful and polite from front of house, housekeeping, dive centre crew to maintenance. Could not ask for better service." - Julie Yim, UK, 9 October 2013 ...
"Excellent! I don't know how to discribe in detail. I really enjoy the experience. No matter equipment, staff or facilities. If you need negative comments, the only one is that for me, 1 hour snorkeling at Mabu Island is too short. But since others had returned the boat, it's fine for me." - Zhaohui Xiong, China, 21 May 2013 ...
"Excellent service from airport pick-up to resort and return. Facilities are quiet and comfortable. Dive shop is very friendly and professional." - Peter Stedman, Canada, 19 April 2013 ...
"The place is fabulous!!! The dive masters and all the staff were excellent, very helpful and friendly. The dive facilities was great too. When I did have an issue, it was taken care of immediately and the guys found us at dinner to say the issue had been resolved. I thought that was great service and was pleased. I would totally stay here again in a heartbeat!" - Sandra Reebie, USA, 27 July 2012 ...
"We would like to express our gratitude to everyone at Kapalai for making our holiday unforgettable. You guys have such a unique set-up that is truly wonderful. We would recommend Kapalai to everyone we meet (divers and Non divers), we had such a great time. We would most definitely come again!!!" - Linda van Emmenis, South Africa, 21 July 2012 ...
"Superb service from the diving centre on Kapalai, they prepare tanks and BCD, bring it on the boat, put it on you, change it while you rest during your surface time, never a mistake, never seen anything like that ;) Staff in general very professional, precise and friendly. In brief: the best I've seen. ;)" - Diego Lucchesi, Italy, 17 July 2012 ...
"Food were excellent and staff were friendly. The only criticism was the divemasters in the resort could have been more involved with divers during the trip; we are expecting to have more detailed breifing on each dive site. They did an OK job but we think they could have been great." - Queenie Cheung, Hong Kong, 9 April 2012 ...
"Accomodation was great, very clean and comfortable. Dive gear was in excellent condition (we had read bad things about the gear prior to going but it was wrong). The only suggestion from the dive side is we had a different guide every day, I would prefer to have the same person, you build a relationship (maybe it was because I'm such a bad diver no guide wanted 2 days of it?(-:). Food was good. Can't think of anything bad to say." - Chris Jennings, Australia, 25 September 2011 ...
"All of the dive masters at Sipadan Kapalai were great; they knew the dive sites well, catered extremely well to differing abilities in the group, although I do wonder if some dives/sites should have been restricted to those either with more experience.
Everything about Sipadan Kapalai was magical, the rooms with fishes and rays in the water beneath the balcony, the crew that took care of absolutely everything. Nowhere in the world can you get 5 or 6 dives in in one day with the sunset and night dives off the jetty which had spectacular marine life. The Sipadan island dive sites, swimming alongside turtles, sharks and sitting in a ring of schooling jackfish ... AMAZING." - Sarah Green, England, 15 September 2011 ...
"A lovely resort, not as compact and catering for bigger groups and more day trippers, which is fine but tends to make everything a little rushed. All our dive masters were excellent, we had several different ones at Kapalai." - Mark Galaz, Australia, 23 June 2011 ...
"We had our own dive gear but all other equipment was great. The staff went above and beyond our high expectations and displayed the best service we have ever experienced. The facilities were amazing. The resort itself is truly paradise and faultless. The divemasters ensured we saw heaps of marine life. Dhon in particular was an outstanding divemaster and Hatta provided exceptional service, always making sure our equipment was looked after and ready to go. He is one of the friendliest people we've ever met and deserves a medal for his work! Additionally, all the staff who said hello and smiled as they went about their business made our stay that bit more special. Also, Francis the videographer at lkwid spent 3 dives with us at sipidan and made an amazing video for us to purchase. The quality of his editing and filming skills were exceptional. We now have a video that will stay with us forever. Our rooms were always clean when we returned home from diving which was great." - Robert Riches, Australia, 7 March 2011 ...
"The trip was fascinating! In fact this is my third trip to Sipadan-Kapalai Resort in 3 months and I will still be going back there really soon. The resort is so much fun compared to the other resorts available in the Borneo area and I like the diving there especially. It would be even be better if we are allowed to go to Sipadan more frequently but with the fact that they have so much divers and so little permits, I guess they can't really help it too. The dive crews and staffs are friendly; I really enjoyed my trip." - Hsien Chee Tan, Malaysia, 24 February 2011 ...
"The operators of Kapalai were professional, safe and organised and always trying to improve your diving experience. The resort was clean, well managed and simply magical!" - Samantha Sharp, Australia, 20 June 2011 ...
"The service was friendly, professional and fun. Equipment could have been a little more suited for the individual ... more female wetsuits for rent. But food, service and all staff were excellent." - Kira Goodwin, Canada, 2 September 2010 ...
"Very good resort, well organised, friendly staff, however staff sometimes incorrectly set up my gear e.g tank band too lose which was disppointing. There were many optional dives that I struggled to find a buddy for as a solo diver and feel that maybe a board for 'buddies wanted' or similar would be good; but other than that no complaints!" - Paula Walters, UK, 30 July 2010 ...
"Because non-divers have nothing to do there except snorkeling & eating, basically Kapalai's really good for those who wanna go for diving only. They should arrange some activities for those who are not diving except the snorkeling. I meant if there's such as trips to the near islands with a tours would be nice." - Salem Hussein, UAE, 21 June 2010 ...
"We had our own gear with us but the service was really good. Kapalai took care of our equipment and made diving really easy, e.g they even helped me to put my fins on. =) Facilities were really amazing too and the buffet food was tasty." - Marjaana Torkkeli, Finland, 9 June 2010 ...