From the small port town of Semporna, it is about 45 minutes by speed boat to the beautiful Kapalai Island Resort. Semporna can be reached from Tawau airport in 80 minutes drive by minibus.
Kapalai Resort is a very beautiful resort located directly on a sandbank. The bungalows are built on stilts over the water, and are connected with walkways also built on stilts. Watching tropical fish swimming underneath your water bungalow is truly a rare and special experience. During low tide you can access the sandbank and enjoy the small beach.
Accommodation & Facilities
Walkways connect the 51 tastefully furnished bungalows with the main building and restaurant. The restaurant offers three meals daily served in buffet style. Water, tea, coffee and snacks in the afternoon are free. In the middle of the restaurant is an open area, where you can observe fish swimming past.
The large and beautifully decorated rooms have each a private bathroom, fan and a terrace with spectacular sea views. Due to the airy position of the bungalows, they do not require air conditioning.
Kapalai Island Resort has a beautiful house reef, with private access through the dive centre. The diving and snorkeling at their house reef is excellent.
Sipadan Permit System (as of April 2010)
Due to the tremendous popularity of the Sipadan drop off, the Malaysian government was forced to introduce a permit system to safeguard the fragile underwater environment and limit the number of divers to 120 per day on this particular site. As a consequence, each dive center must compete for a total of 120 permits per day to dive the Sipadan reef walls. These permits are allocated only 24 hours prior to each new dive day.
As a result, agents and operators alike are unable to guarantee the number of dives at Sipadan Island to be allocated to any resort guest for the duration of their stay. Getting one of these permits seems to be based on luck as much as on the general booking situation in the region (an argument to schedule travel into the off-season), and we have indeed not noticed certain resorts being favoured over others. Resort managements do what they can to keep this system as fair as possible, and to give everyone a chance to visit the Sipadan dive sites at least once in a 3-4 night period. To make the most of this precious opportunity, day boats often schedule 4 dives per day in rather quick succession for those carrying the Sipadan permit.
Guests must arrive in Tawau latest by 1.30pm for transfer to resort on same day. The 1st boat from Semporna to Kapalai is at 10am; the 2nd boat at 12.30pm and the 3rd and last boat for the day at 3pm.
On departure day, guests can book any flight out of Tawau after 10am onwards. The 1st boat departs Kapalai at 6.30am; the 2nd boat at 9.30am and the 3rd and last boat for the day at 1.30pm.
Kapalai has stable mobile phone reception and wireless internet connection is available in common areas. For house guests, a computer with internet access is available.