It was my second time to Sabah and I was excited with the idea of spending two nights in the middle of the Celebes Sea – albeit a sunken island, also called as the Kapalai sand bar.
I’ve heard many good reviews on the resort and my friends and I were absolutely thrilled after looking through photos we found online. Would the resort be as beautiful as in the photos? Would it be safe there? Would we have fun in the middle of the sea?
Boat Ride to Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
My friends and I first gathered at Semporna Jetty before heading to the resort. The speedboat ride is a private chartered boat by Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort themselves.
There are two ways transfer between the Semporna Jetty and Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort, but there are only three boat transfers a day from Semporna Jetty to Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort and vice versa. It took about 45 minutes to 1 hour speedboat ride from Semporna Jetty to Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort, which also depends on the sea waves.
Even from a distance, we knew the resort would be beautiful when we arrived and disembark from the speedboat. It was almost sunset by the time we reached the resort, which was just perfect for photos in my opinion.
As I stepped onto Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort’s jetty, I noticed there were a few uniformed men (and armed) near the resort’s lobby. We were told that there were about 50 armed men (army) patrolling in and around the resort’s waters from “unwanted” visitors (read: pirates) that has been plaguing some parts of Sabah waters lately. However, Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort and about 20km radius from it has so far been very safe up until today.
Location & Architecture
Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is located on top of a sunken island, in the Celebes Sea. You can be sure to not find land anywhere nearby if you decide to stay here for a night or more.
The luxury water villages are built on stilts and looked very welcoming. Designed to be airy, open and comfortable for guests, you can open your balcony door and look at the clear light blue sea or even swim under your room – but make sure to swim from the dive center pier and not directly from your room!
Rooms & Amenities
It was very refreshing stepping into the beautiful chalet. The room we were assigned to was a triple sharing room; with one Queen bed and one single bed, cupboard, dressing table, sofas and still there were ample space available.
I especially loved the bathroom and the bathtub. Relaxing in the bathtub while sipping a cool drink in the evening and looking out and under the window next to the bathtub is a truly unique experience.
Why? I managed to spot 3 giant turtles during my 20 minutes bath time as I look into the clear waters and breathe in the sweet smell of the ocean.
The 50 water villages are either twin sharing or triple sharing. Most of the guests here would be purchasing the package stay from their respective tour operator. A 2-nights stay inclusive of diving could cost up to RM2500+ and a 2-nights stay without diving could cost up to RM2100+.
Each package (with or without diving) includes:
- Transfer from Tawau airport to Semporna Jetty
- Boat transfer to Kapalai Resort (return)
- Chalet accommodation for twin or triple sharing
- Buffet at the restaurant (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Afternoon snacks
- Tea/ Coffee/ Water served throughout the day at the restaurant
- Snorkeling gears available for rental
Diving package would include all the above as well as:
- Unlimited dives in front of Kapalai Dive Centre
- No extra charge for night dives in front of dive centre
- Tanks, weight and belt provided
Guests are free to roam around the resort from one end to another. What’s interesting about Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is the mile-long sandbank that you can enjoy with long walks, or just a good time to soak up the sun. The sandbank is only open in the day because by 7pm onwards, the tide begins and the sandbank will be submerged.
There are other more relaxing activities that can be done too such as snorkeling, kayaking, souvenir shop, game room and full internet access.
Diving instructors in Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort are all PADI certified and they also offer a variety of PADI courses at the resort such as:
- Discover Scuba Diving
- Open Water Diving
- Advanced Open Water Diving
- Introduction to Night Diving
What for sure, even though there are no land in sight for miles, you would never get bored at the resort.
Services By Staffs
Malaysian hospitality is always something I could be proud of as a fellow Malaysian. Which is why it is no wonder that my friends and I were treated very nicely when we were at Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort. Not only that, we even had a private dinner on our last night with the owners, all smiles and indulging us with personal stories so that we can understand the origin of the resort and its objectives.
A round of applause for the waiters and waitresses at the resort’s restaurant. The restaurant is mostly filled to the brim during meal times and they are very quick in cleaning up tables or answering to calls from guests.
Overall Value ♥♥♥♥
Beware of Poisonous or Dangerous Sea-Creatures Near Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
It’s all fun and games until someone got stung or bit and there are no hospital nearby. When we first arrived, the first thing that the staff informed and reminded us about was the poisonous sea-creatures that can be found near Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort. Some of the most common poisonous sea-creatures that can be found here are:
- Sting Ray
- Sea Snake
- Sea Urchin
- Lion Fish
- Moray Eel
- Scorpion Fish
- Trigger Fish
- Jelly Fish
- Blue Ring Octopus
We were advised not to wear shiny or metal object when we dive or snorkel nearby either because Barracudas are attracted to shiny objects and there have been cases in Sabah where Barracudas bit some of the body parts with metal or shiny object before.
It is always best to stay away from these animals – do not approach them and more often than not, they will just leave you alone as well.
Other than that, have fun!
PULAU SIPADAN RESORT & TOURS SDN BHD (for tour purposes)
484 Bandar Sabindo, PO Box No 61120, 91021 Tawau, Sabah, East Malaysia.
Tel: (60-89) 765200 | Fax:(60-89) 763575/763563