With dive sites so near to shore and a large choice of land-based accommodation on nearby Mabul Island, Sipadan is really a destination that favours diving from a resort. Many resorts offer unlimited house reef dives and there are always more fun non-diving activities too, so they are popular among couples and mixed groups of divers and non-divers. Some of the properties are beautiful stilted wooden structures built over the shallows, others are styled more like beach resorts. What they all have in common is that they are good value-for-money and close to amazing, varied sites in one of the most bio-diverse regions on earth.
Sipadan is located on the island of Borneo in the Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah. Within Borneo's rainforests and beaches lie a host of exciting eco-tourist activities. You can climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in the region, visit the largest orang utan sanctuary in the world, as well dive some of the world's best wall, reef and macro-life locations.
You can join other lucky divers at this unique destination and stay at a resort on on a nearby island:
There are over 40 dive sites to explore so, whichever option you choose, stays of one week are ideal. However, if you are short of time then you can still have a great time with as little as just 4 nights stay. Packages normally include full board accommodation, diving (including unlimited unguided shore dives) and airport transfers.
It's also possible to visit these dive sites by liveaboard cruise, if you prefer.
If you plan on staying in Sabah either before or after your Sipadan diving vacation, you can find a wide range of accommodation choices at hotelscombined.com, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists:
All bookings will be backed up by their 'Low Price Guarantee' to ensure you get the best value for money.
The islands enjoy an equatorial climate, so the temperature generally varies between 28-34°C during the day and drops to about 22°C during the warm evenings. The region is generally unaffected by the monsoon seasons which affect other places in this part of South East Asia, although sporadic heavy rains can come down during the rainy season from December to March.
Being islands, Sipadan and Mabul have cooling sea breezes that make even the high humidity level of 85-95% quite pleasant.
The dive season is year round but the best conditions for diving at Sipadan are thought to be from April to December when surface conditions are normally calm. Any time is a good time here, but if you have the freedom to choose then April to December is the best time to plan a visit.
Guests who will be flying within 24 hours after resort departure may be subject to diving restrictions at the end of their stay.
Flights back from Tawau are Malaysia Airlines to Kota Kinabalu (18:25-19:15 or 21:05-22:05), or with Air Asia (10:20-11:05, 15:05-15:55, 17:10-18:00, 21:45-22:35). If you do not wish to stay overnight in Kota Kinabalu, you can fly direct to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia (10:15-12:55, 13:20-16:00, 15:40-18:25, 18:55-21:40).
Note - flight times are subject to change. Please refer to the airline web sites to check for changes and for booking information. We recommend that you consider taking out insurance to cover scuba and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quote:
Sipadan Island is only 30 acres (12 hectares) in area and is covered by untouched rainforest. As it is not possible to stay on the island, the best sightseeing option is to enjoy the other attractions that nearby Borneo has to offer. There is a national park levy of US$ 0 per person per day entrance fee. As Pulau Sipadan is a protected area and a site of outstanding natural beauty, we urge you to behave responsibly when you visit, and make sure to control your buoyancy when diving.
Activities on Mabul Island often depend on which resort you choose to stay in. These can include snorkelling, sea kayaking, beach volleyball, as well as relaxing in the pool or Jacuzzi. The island is covered in palm trees and fringed with fine beaches. Villagers live next door to the resorts and guests are free to stroll around the island, mingling with the locals.
At Kapalai snorkelling around the shallows is a popular pastime but mostly guests concentrate on diving, eating, sunbathing, or just relaxing with a good book.
Additionally, an extraordinary number of exciting sightseeing options are available for you when visiting the province of Sabah in Borneo. Since these activities are either energy expending or of great natural interest (or both), the tourists here are normally environmentally aware and generally more interesting than you might meet in a place where 'foam parties' are the norm. Here's a comprehensive list of things to do in Sabah.
Being in fairly remote locations, Pulau Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai do not offer anything in terms of nightlife and the resorts are fully inclusive in terms of catering arrangements. However, it is quite common for guests staying on Mabul Island to visit the other resorts and have a drink or two at their bars and chat to other holiday-makers. Some of the bars can get quite lively! When you get back on the mainland of Sabah will you be able to find pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Shopping experiences are very limited in the region so you'll just have to wait until you get back to Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur for this. However, the local village on Mabul has some small stalls selling simple toiletries, confectionery and a lot of items from the sea like shells, pieces of coral and other things that would be better left in the ocean.
All transport between the mainland, the resorts and Sipadan is provided in the dive packages. The islands of Mabul and Kapalai are both small enough to walk around.
On the mainland, you'll find that Sabah has a good road system (good for Borneo that is), especially between major hubs like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.