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Sipadan Dive Islands ~ Kapalai

History & People Kota Kinabalu Kinabalu Park Kudat Sandakan Wetlands Nature Retreats
Other Places Mantanani Island Pulau Tiga Danum Valley Pulau Layang Layang Sipadan Dive Islands

The Island Diving & Marine Life Accommodations Getting There

Kapalai unique feature is that it is a water village resort built on stilts on a sand bar surrounded by the clear turquoise-green waters of the Celebes Sea.

Sitting atop a shallow reef on the edge of the extensive Ligitan Reefs, Kapalai was once beautiful island two hundred years ago. Reduced by erosion to only a sand bar all the buildings are built on stilts which go down into the water.

Great for: Small animals and beginner divers
Not so great for: Non-diving activities
Depth: 5 - 20m / Visibility: 5 - 15m / Water Temperature: 26 - 30C
Currents: Gentle / Surface Conditions: Can be a little choppy
Experience Level: Beginner - advanced / Number of dive sites: 18
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 14 days, including the Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul sites

The Island
Guests will be able to easily observe extraordinary fish like the lionfish or needlefish from the wooden footbridge or from their chalet veranda without even getting wet. Additional attractions of Kapalai are the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. 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.

While most come to stay here due to its proximity to the world famous dives sites of Sipadan which is only 20 minutes away, Kapalai also offers also several great sites within easy reach of the resort. Going underwater you will find a macroworld paradise, but unlike Mabul the visibility is usually better here. With gentle currents and shallow, warm waters and depths generally from 5m to 20m, its shallow clear water is ideal for beginners and muck divers.

Diving & Marine Life
If you've never tried muck diving before, then you're in for a treat - what a place to start! this is a term used to describe limited visibility diving at shallow sites usually with a sandy bottom. Muck diving offers the opportunity to observe rare macro critters close up, a photographers paradise. 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!

Kapalai is considered a macro-lovers paradise. This does not necessarily mean poor visibility as with so many critter-havens. Here rarities such as frogfish, blue-ringed octopus and the incredible flamboyant cuttlefish are the star attractions. Harlequin ghostpipefish, sea moths and mantis shrimp make up the supporting cast while the mandarin fish provide the love interest.

Most dives here are nice and gentle in warm, relatively shallow water, so are perfect for the less experienced, as well as yielding sufficient rewards for those with plenty of dives under their weightbelt. One of the most often dived places (due to its convenience) is straight off the jetty where leaf scorpionfish, crocodilefish, lionfish and all manner of shrimps and gobies add to the fun.

Diving in Kapalai is like being on a spacious, mosquito-free liveaboard that doesn't move. Gentle sea breezes cool the high quality chalets giving you a sense of freedom and comfort as well as proximity to amazing diving.

The Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is a charming wooden water village built on stilts with 41 individual water chalets, all with private balconies and en-suite bathrooms.

The roomy water chalets to offer complete with hot and cold shower with bath tub, abundance of fresh water from mainland for daily use, the Resort offers great food, surprisingly roomy and elegant twin-sharing wooden chalets with huge private balconies and attached bathrooms, and a couple of miles of walkways for those who like to take their morning jog while looking at thousands of fish just a few inches beneath their feet. Meals are served in the terraced, open central structure, while a big western sundeck allow divers to have an evening drink or an after-dive chat with a background of fabulous tropical sunsets.

Getting There
Kapalai is located northeast of Semporna on the east coast of Sabah. Visitors to the island have to travel to Semporna Town (1 hour drive from Tawau Airport). Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Air Asia have daily flights to Tawau. From Semporna, it is a 45 minute speed boat ride to the island.

Boat schedule:
Semporna - Kapalai Resort 09:30, 12:00 & 15:30
Kapalai Resort - Semporna 06:00, 11:00, 13:30


Kapalai ~ Dive Sites
Dive Map and Description of Popular Dive Sites- Mandarin Valley Black Ray Channel The Jetty Mid Reef Gurnard Point







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