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Website home>Dive Resorts>Malaysia>Sipadan>Kapalai Dive Resort
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Kapalai Dive Resort

Kapalai Dive Resort
From USD 200 per day
Shore dives
Max 178
At a glance...
  • Winner of our 'Dive Resort of the Year' award
  • Environmentally friendly resort constructed on stilts
  • Games and activities
  • Sea canoes
  • Offers full board and diving packages
Customer reviews

Click on an image to enlarge

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, 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!

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Accommodation and Diving Package Prices...

 Prices valid until 30 June 2025

 Click 'Request' to send an inquiry for your preferred dive package:

2024-2025 - 1 January 2024 to 30 June 2025
Days Nights Price per diver Price per non-diver Single supplement
(see note below)

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

More Package Details....
Special offers: Packages prices have been discounted by 6% until further notice. Offer closes: 31 Dec 2050

Special rates apply for Malaysians and expatriates with Malaysian work permits. Please contact us for details at info@dive-the-world.com

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 there is a 2 dives in Sipadan and 1 dive in Mabul. 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.

Note:  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 and are not available for non divers/snorkelers. For shorter packages or for diving in Sipadan more often, there is still the chance to purchase permits on arrival, depending on availability. Additional Sipadan day trips (incl. park fees and diving service: US$ 127 per day) will then be paid on arrival (if permits are obtained).
Note: it is mandatory for all guests to have at least an Advanced Open Water certification and 15 logged dives to dive in Sipadan.

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.
Diving excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own):  Scuba equipment (US$ 38 per day), Sipadan park permit fees (US$ 96 per day) 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. Note: prices of items purchased on site are subject to change.
Important note: All divers must take their passport and diving license (minimum cert. level: advanced), or a printed copy of it, to the Sipadan Island marine park office for presentation. The Sipadan authorities do not accept a digital copy of a diving license and divers that are unable to verify their qualification status will not be permitted to dive.

Resort accommodation includes:  Bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking water, soft drinks, hot drinks, snacks, return resort transfers from Tawau Airport.
Accommodation excludes (mandatory):  8% sales and service tax (SST) on package prices above (payable in advance), Malaysian tourism accommodation tax - US$ 2 per room per night. Single supplement on single travellers only, payable in advance. Semporna jetty fee (US$ 2 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: MH4706 (07:00-07:50); Air Asia: AK6260 (09:05-10:00).
From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5744 (06:15-09:10); Malaysia Airlines: MH2660 (07:15-10:10), MYAirline: Z98903 (06:15-09:10).
Land transfer times from Tawau Airport to Semporna are 08:00 and 10:30 hrs. Boat transfer times from Semporna to Kapalai Resort are 09:30 and 12:30 hrs. If you arrive on any flight which does not time well with these transfer times then you must wait at the airport for the next available transfer (which could be a few hours) or overnight at Tawau or Semporna. Only if you arrive on the morning flight will it be possible to dive that day.
Recommended Tawau departure flights:
To Kota Kinabalu: Air Asia: AK6263 (19:50-20:45), AK6273 (21:50-22:40).
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5749 (16:05-18:50) ), AK5752 (20:55-23:45).
Boat transfer times from Kapalai Resort to Semporna are 11:00 and 13:30 hrs. Land transfer times from Semporna to Tawau Airport are 12:30 and 14:30 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:  5% off from the package price for 3 adults sharing in a chalet.
Groups of 9 guests or more - 1 extra person can join free of charge.

Add-on package:  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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Rooms, Beds, Bathrooms, Views...
The Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is a charming wooden water village built on stilts with 89 individual water chalets, all with private balconies and en-suite bathrooms.
Air-con chalets are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

All the chalets have:
  • 69 chalets with air-con, 20 with fan cooling
  • Sea view, beachfront balcony with chairs
  • Private hot water shower and bath
  • Towels and toiletries
  • Bedside lamps
  • Seating area
  • 220 volt power points

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Diving Details...
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 2 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
  • Twin engine
  • 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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Facilities, Location, Recreation...
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

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Menu, Cuisine Type, Specialities...
Meals are informally served at the central open-plan building, which boasts an amazingly beautiful open-air wooden terrace, the ideal spot for after dinner, relaxation and chatting.

Meals available:
  • Buffet style dining
  • Chinese and western cuisine
  • Seafood
  • Barbeques upon request
  • Salads
The bar sells liquor.

Complimentary breakfast - coffee/tea, fruit juice, toast, fruit, cakes / pastries, eggs, sausages, rice, noodles.

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Dive Safety, Resort Security...
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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters Inquire Now

Customer reviews:

Customer rating - Excellent
"Dive The World organized for me an excellent stay in Kapalai Dive Resort. They answered quickly to my questions and everything worked perfectly. They fulfilled my expectations in the best way so that I had a wonderful relaxing time in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to ... all worked perfectly!" - , Switzerland, 4 June 2024 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"We loved everything about our stay and diving at Kapalai. The staff were lovely, the divemaster was excellent, the food was varied and very good, and the water bungalows were spacious and very comfortable. In hindsight we'd have spent our whole time here, instead of splitting it up between the liveaboard and Kapalai. We only did the liveaboard so we could dive Sipadan more, but the diving at Kapalai and Mabul were just as good." - , Australia, 10 November 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"Everything was absolutely perfect! From gear to dives and everything in between such as meals, it was very well organized. I could always get in touch with someone at Dive The World if I had questions. I don't see room for improvement, it really was flawless." - , United States, 30 June 2023 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Very nice resort and friendly services. Diving conditions are also very good. Safety standards of diving may need to improve (e.g. they asked us to continue diving even when we told the divemaster we are at 50 bar) Dive The World were very responsive with detailed explanations. I like the service." - , Hong Kong, 24 June 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The DM Linda provided an excellent guide service and ensured our team's safety. The staff were very helpful to keep our equipment safe. Dive The World provided prompt responses at all time and great advice. " - , Hong Kong, China, 18 May 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The place is stunning. Good service. They also provide pick-up and drop-off service to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport after you leave. Due to the pandemic, the itinerary changed many times. Dive The World provided a lot of services to change the itinerary and it was very timely." - , Taiwan, 17 April 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"This was a return trip for us. The dive staff are all so great and accommodating! Dive The World were very easy to reach (even with time zone challenges) and very knowledgeable." - , United States, 23 March 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"Fantastic service; friendly & helpful staff; great & varied dive sites even outside of Sipadan. House reef w/ unlimited dusk & night dives awesome. Resort food was primarily local Malaysian Chinese style; more varied food options would be helpful." - , South Korea, 22 October 2022 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The entire dive team was great and made sure we got the most out of every dive. We had requested a private dive guide, and he actually suggested we take our Advanced Open Water Course instead. It worked out so well, and now we have advanced certification for future dive trips!" - , USA, 03 January 2020 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Australia, 13 March 2014 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , UK, 9 October 2013 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , China, 21 May 2013 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"Excellent service from airport pick-up to resort and return. Facilities are quiet and comfortable. Dive shop is very friendly and professional." - , Canada, 19 April 2013 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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!" - , USA, 27 July 2012 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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!!!" - , South Africa, 21 July 2012 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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. ;)" - , Italy, 17 July 2012 ...

Customer rating - Good
"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." - , Hong Kong, 9 April 2012 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Australia, 25 September 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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.
" - , England, 15 September 2011 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , Australia, 23 June 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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.
" - , Australia, 7 March 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Malaysia, 24 February 2011 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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!" - , Australia, 20 June 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Canada, 2 September 2010 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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!" - , UK, 30 July 2010 ...

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Resorts Elsewhere in Malaysia

Low Budget Options

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