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Kapalai Island

Kapalai Island was once a beautiful island some 200 years ago. Affected by the forces of nature, erosion has since reduced the island to sea level and it now consists of only a mile long sand bar. A unique Malaysian water village-style dive resort, where all the buildings rest on sturdy stilts, now sits on the edge of the shallow sandbank of the extensive Litigan Reefs in the Sulu Sea.

Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort is a popular dive resort with access to the walls and pelagics of Sipadan Island just a 15 minute boat ride away and macro diving around the islands of Kapalai and Mabul plus shore diving and snorkelling on their own house reef right under the jetty. The setting, location and comfortable accommodations makes this the perfect dive resort from which to explore the area.

  • Getting to Kapalai Island

    Kapalai Island is located off the east coast of Malaysia Borneo.

    There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Tawau.

    From Tawau Airport it is an 80 minute drive to Kapalai’s private jetty at Semporna. After a 45 minute boat transfer from Semporna you will arrive at Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort.

    BOAT SCHEDULES (Fixed Time): as at August 2019 and subject to change

    Semporna Private Jetty to KAPALAI Resort - 10:00 am; 12:30 pm and 15:00 pm

    KAPALAI Resort to Semporna Private Jetty - 06:30 am; 09:30 am and 13:30 pm


    Arrival :
    The 1st boat into KAPALAI departs Semporna at 10:00 am. The earliest flight from Kota Kinabalu arrives to Tawau around 07:40 am.
    The latest flight to arrive is by 13:55 pm for transfer to the resort on same day.

    Any flight from Tawau from 10:00am onwards can be booked.
    To stay at the resort up to the last departure boat at 13:30 pm from KAPALAI, the earliest flight to look for is anytime from 17:00 pm.

  • Amenities at Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort

    The Resort offers great, buffet-style meals served in the open central dining area and bar, while a big western sundeck allows guests to enjoy an evening drink or an after-dive chat with a background of fabulous tropical sunsets. Recreational facilities include pool table, board games, darts, table tennis, sea kayaks, telephone, computer with internet connectivity, wifi in common areas and gift shop.

    The onsite Dive Centre offers daily boat dives, courses, scuba / snorkelling and kayaking equipment rental.

  • Accommodation at Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort

    Kapalai Dive Resort Diving Accommodation MalayasiaBuilt on sturdy stilts on the shallow sandbanks, with no land in sight, this airy and sunny water village offers style and complete comfort. The resort consists of 59 roomy and elegant wooden chalets offering twin and triple share accommodation, all with large private balconies, attached bathrooms with shower and bathtub and a seating area.

    The chalets are fan cooled and have coffee and tea making facilities and 220 volt power points.  

  • Scuba Diving around Kapalai

    Kapalai Dive Resort Diving Accommodation MalayasiaThe diving around Kapalai itself is easy and shallow but quite spectacular. The sandy bottom and the spare coral heads host an amazing array of small, often yet-to-be classified, brightly coloured subjects. Kapalai is home to the techno-coloured flamboyant cuttlefish – its body pulsating through fluorescent waves of vermilion, purple, chocolate brown, bright yellow and blinding white. Elusive frogfish of all shapes, sizes and colours can be spied around Kapalai. Other resident creatures include crocodile fish, a variety of eels – garden, moray and ribbon eels, nudibranchs, turtles, pipefish and mantis shrimp. During a sunset dive you may witness the mating rituals of several pairs of pretty mandarin fish.

    3 guided boat dives a day are scheduled in your dive package (excluding arrival day and departure day). Also included are unlimited house reef dives in front of KAPALAI Dive Centre (unguided dive and must be accompanied by a buddy) plus night dives for experienced night divers in front of KAPALAI Dive Centre (unguided dive and must be accompanied by a buddy) only).

    Boat dives are also conducted around Mabul and Sipadan.

    Some of the more popular dive sites:

    Mandarin Valley

    This is a gently sloping dive down to 20 metres. This site was named after one of the small coloured dragonet found here. You can search for the colourful mandarinfish at dusk amongst the corals, sponges and sea urchins. Other residents to be seen here are cuttlefish, stonefish, frogfish, crocodile fish, pipefish as well as nudibranchs.

    Spotted Ray Channel

    The channel runs at a depth from 5 to 20 metres. Cruise along a sandy channel beside the reef. Commonly seen creatures on this dive include ribbon eels, stonefish, ghost pipefish and lavender coloured frogfish.

  • Activities at Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort

    Kapalai Dive Resort Diving Accommodation MalayasiaKapalai’s chain of chalets are linked by wooden walkways, good for a morning or afternoon jog whilst looking at the fish swimming in the water underneath.

    During low tide, the sand bank is accessible so you can enjoy the small beach.

    While away the day snorkelling, diving and kayaking off the house reef or join the boat dives around Kapalai, Mabul, Sipadan and other surrounding small islands.


  • Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort Rates

    Valid from 1st April 2019 - 31st March 2021
    (Prices are subjected to change without prior notice)

    Package rates in (Malaysian Ringgit) MYR per person

    2N 2,862.00 2,289.00
    3N 4,081.00 3,264.00
    4N 5,300.00 4,240.00
    Extra Night 1,219.00 975.00

    Package includes:

    1. - Round trip land transfers between Tawau (airport or hotel) and the private jetty in Semporna (80 minutes)
    2. - Round trip boat transfers between the private jetty in Semporna and the resort on a SIC basis (45 minutes)
    3. - Accommodation at Sipadan-KAPALAI Dive Resort on a twin sharing basis
    4. - Fresh buffet meals – breakfast/lunch/dinner throughout the stay
    5. - Afternoon snacks – served at the restaurant daily
    6. - Tea/ coffee, cold water and cordial – served throughout the day at the restaurant daily
    7. - Snorkel around the resort – from KAPALAI Dive Centre only
    8. - For dive packages: 3 guided boat dives daily with tank, weights and weight belt (except on arrival & departure day) and unlimited house reef dive including night dives for divers with night diving experience in front of KAPALAI Dive Centre– these are unguided dives & must be accompanied by a buddy. Sipadan Dive Permit is included in packages of 3 nights or more (cost subject to change at any time without notice).
    9. 6% SST taxes (subject to change at any time without notice)



    1. All prices quoted above are in Ringgit Malaysia (RM) and EXCLUDE the
      a) Semporna Jetty Fee*

      (payable to the Municipal Council of Semporna)

      * Fee inclusive of GST(subject to change without notice)
      RM 11.00 per person (Adult : 12 years and above)
      RM 5.50 per person (Infant / Child : 1 - 11 years old)

    2. b) TTx (Tourism Tax) – collected by the resort and payable to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department
      RM 10.00 per room per night (subject to change without prior notice)
    3. Single Supplement Surcharge rate : additional 30% from the above package rate
    4. Triple Share Discount rate : 5% off from the package rate for sharing 3 adults in a chalet
    5. Non Diver Child rate (2 – 11 years) : 50% off from the Non-Diver Package
    6. Infant rate (under 2 years) : chargeable at 10% of Non-Diver Package
    7. Junior Diver (Child Diver) rate :is based on Diver Package rate
    8. No pregnant woman are allowed by boat to KAPALAI Resort
    9. No dives allowed within 24 hours prior to departure flight time
    10. Snorkel by boat is not available


    Please note: Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort's dive package DOES NOT guarantee diving at Sipadan Island. Diving is at Mabul, Kapalai and other nearby good diving areas. Diving at Sipadan Island is a bonus dive, subject to permit approval from Sabah Parks (at no extra cost). Divers will dive at Sipadan Island once a permit has been approved. The number of entry passes that can be obtained each day, and on which particular dates is beyond the resort’s control.