Sipadan-Kapalai Island Resort

3.5 out of 5 stars3.5 Stars

Kapalai Island, Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia

1 Review

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    Water bungalows


    Fell in love with this place especially my water bungalow. It's huge with comfy beds, big bathroom with hot water and a bathtub than opens out to the sea. The sun deck is fabulous with spectacular views especially to watch sunsets. Very romantic.

    As the bungalow is built on stilts over the sea, you'll never know what visitors might swim up right to your doorstep. During my stay, I said hello to stingray, pipefish, razorfish even barracuda!

    Made friends with the staff at the resort who are ever helpful. Did not have to lift a finger with my bags or dive equipment. Everything is set up with fresh tanks after every dive and washed. Never had to carry my own tank. Now that's what I call 5-star dive service. Really spoilt and pampered.

    Usually I'm not a fan of hotel food. But this place is an exception. Variety of food is wonderful and surprising since it is far and remote from the mainland. Absolutely delicious. It's all fusion, Asian and Western fare. There is even free flow of hot drinks especially my favourite Milo (chocolate drink) and biscuits/bread. Very important for hungry divers!

    Strongly recommended.

    Unique Quality: - Water bungalows built on stilts over the sea.
    - Excellent and fully equipped dive center with an in-house videographer (it's great to have a DVD of you own dive!)
    - Fantastic house reef for day and night dives (the elusive Mandarin Fish is our resident in the house reef!)

More about Sipadan-Kapalai Island Resort

Absolute Heaven

by TripAdvisor Member MZ4CYL

This place is INCREDIBLE!! I had the time of my life.... no matter how long you stay it is not long enough. The diving is amazing, the people who work there are beautiful and all round the most gorgeous place I have ever stayed at. Thank You so much!

A definite Return Trip!

by TripAdvisor Member y0_y036

This was my first trip to Kapalai Resort and was not dissapointed AT ALL. For me first impression is always important, and on our arrival we were greeted by Jinky (with her husky, sexy voice) accompanied by d other Service Ladies offering us warm towels. A great start!!! The resort itself was amazingly beautiful, situated in the middle of the ocean surrounded by starfish, unbelievable view..... SPEECHLESS!

Second impression was the food. I'll take off my hat to d chefs at Kapalai. The food was 'MAGNIFIC'! I dont believe i ever ate as much as i had in Kapalai. And not to forget the 'Waffle & omelet Lady...Amy', you kept me up & going before i start my morning dives. Keeping me energize.

Accomodation was spectacular! Me and my room-mate (room No. 4) loved it! We even had a security for our room. His name is Eddie. His a Garfish :P

For the non-divers, Kapalai might not be your cup of tea but for d divers out there.... its paradise!!! The dive spots was unbelievable. Went for 14 dives.. i just couldnt resist! Timba-timba Island will likely be my stopover for my next trip next year. The warm sea water was such a pleasure to just sit and relax. The Dive Instructors & Dive Masters are the best people ever. You guys took care of us, showed us d best places to dive.... and every one of you has such a beautiful character which we will remember for the rest of our lives (hopefully :P).

All n all this was a trip to remember. Best package ever! We had such a great laugh during the christmas celebration... everyone was such a sport. Even got myself a christmas gift... was hoping it was a new wetsuit!

I'd like to thank everyone in Kapalai from the Mayor (Amin) for welcoming us, Front Desk and Service Ladies.. you brighten up our days with your smile, Housekeeping for making our rooms comfortable, the Boat Crew and Dive Crew.. pampering us by lifting our tanks and putting on our fins.. (who even does dat??) You guys ROCK! Doctor Jamil for treating us for minor injuries and being a good Therapist.

And last but not least d DM's. Honorius, George, Glenn a.k.a Sinn Yu, Efren, Lito a.k.a Angel (sexy latino dancer), Ben, 'Shahril', Linda a.k.a Duts, DonDon, my adorable Alvin and last but not least Alex (we luv u!). Wont forget d 1st night hanging out with u guys. You made me feel at home. Your Full Monty performance during Christmas Eve was out of this world!!! Have dat on video!! :) You guys are the BEST!!! Luv each and everyone of u.

See you next year

p/s: Amin, i'm expecting a red carpet arrival next year :P

Lots of luv,

Tiara, Yen, Aien, Juita, Adil, Eki & Lenny.

Perfect Place Rivals the Diving

by TripAdvisor Member sfbadvr

Where do I begin? We loved every bit of Kapalai, so much so that we skipped out on some Sipadan dives to enjoy our chalet more! and I am inspired to rave about them...

We had chalet #50, one of the newest ones (sans emergency red button) and it was huge, spacious, and spotlessly clean. The bathroom was gorgeous with an incredible view! The tub view was not enclosed like it was for older chalets, which "only" let you look down into the water when you used the tub as opposed to looking out. We did have to be wary of the occasional boat and kayakers though! Combined with the large patio space, we couldn't get tired of the Celebes Sea and really understood how anyone could stay for two weeks at a time. We enjoyed watching sea life all around us. At night the occasional turtle would surface and exhale. Other folks reported seeing lion fish just hanging out under their patios. Beware, at night the winds can pick up and move the water underneath the chalet; I am a light sleeper and woke up to sounds of splashing water and thought someone was playing in our tub. Another night it was dead calm and needlenose fish woke me with their hunting in the spotlight under our patio! Small price to pay for getting to sleep to ocean breezes though.

Sunsets can be enjoyed on west facing chalets and on their large helicopter pad that has plenty of adirondack chairs. You get to enjoy watching needlenose fish, puffers, stingrays, snake eels, etc as you walk around. There's a swimming lagoon but few people used it. There's also a game room, a TV room, a lounge area in the main hall and a small shop. Wifi is only available around the office, which is also where their two internet computers are.

They provide two large liter bottles of drinking water everyday, along with tea bags and instant coffee. There's also an electric kettle, which came in handy for our instant noodle breakfast the day of our really early departure (noodles were self-brought). Hot water is available for showers, but you need to give it some time to take effect, like 20 min or so. For toiletries, only soap is provided, you will need to bring most of your own.

Food was really really tasty. My s.o. had the best lamb ever; it was grilled perfectly and resembling a filet mignon more than lamb - it was impressive. We enjoyed much of it and no item was repeated! Everyone looked forward to breakfast meals with the nice options, waffles, and omelets made to order. Lunches and dinners were also delicious; it's definitely more of an asian fare though and some travelers may not be used to that. They serve in rounds so there's always plenty of food. Whenever there appeared to be a rush, we would just hang back a while and wait for the next fresh batch to arrive. Juice and water and light cookies are always available. Soda and beers are extra from the bar.

The dive masters are a fun bunch. I do think there could be more emphasis from them on safety though. However, most divers at Kapalai are pretty experienced and may be turned off, but to me, it's better to be on the safe side. If you rent, you may be a little disappointed in their equipment as much of it is worn; my s.o.'s tank gauge had to be tapped to show the measurement, and a replacement regulator had a faulty depth gauge.

There are two boat trips everyday. One in the morning at Sipadan (two tanks), and one in the afternoon (one tank, at Kapalai or Mabul), but it looks like you have to option of going to Timba too. Boat rides are short (awesome!), ranging from 1 min to 15 min to Sipadan. You are also free to dive in the house reef anytime, including at night.

The diving at Sipadan is just beautiful and exhilarating. Very colorful wall and reef at top, and Barracuda Point needs no introduction. You'll find turtles are everywhere and large in size there! Kapalai's diving was more interesting than Mabul's for me.

We caught glimpses of other lodging options and while they seem beautiful, we were still very happy with our Kapalai choice! Have I raved enough?

Magical Location

by TripAdvisor Member GaijinKim

The location is fabulous, like staying in the middle of the ocean. It is a live aboard with out the seasickness! Only drawback were the mediocre food and high priced internet, but the rooms, transport, diving, scenery, and value for money were terrific. I would go there again, even though it took 24 hours to get there :)

Great diving

by TripAdvisor Member MissingMalaysia

We stayed at Kapalai in December on our first ever diving trip. And what diving! Being complete novices, having completed our Open Water course in a freezing, flooded quarry in Lancashire in late November the seas around Kapalai and Sipadan were like bathwater! The marine life was breathtaking. We didn't see much big stuff but that didn't matter given the number of turtles, sharks, barracuda etc that we saw. The best dive we had was off the coral garden on Sipadan. Just drifting on the current at about 8 metres with thousands of fish and coral of such beautiful colours - superb. Thanks to Alvin and George for taking us there.

Kapalai itself is quite superb. The setting is near perfect and we were lucky that the weather was pretty good too, despite it being monsoon season. Be warned, from November until March it can get very wet, very quickly. The rooms are wonderful, the dive centre well-equipped and reasonably priced, the dive crew were fantastic (I couldn't believe that we never had to gear up properly the entire time - all the kit was pre-prepared!), the dive masters were good - although there was some irresponsible diving as people went off on their own - and the overall ambience was relaxed.

The only issue we had was with the food. Whilst it was plentiful it was rather like school dinners, Chinese-style. If that floats your boat then you'll love it. It didn't help that I was made really ill after eating a dodgy prawn from the BBQ on our first night and ended up missing three dives. It did put the dampners on the stay and I hardly ate another thing. However, that can happen anywhere and I must make it clear that the rest of the resort is quite wonderful. If only they could cater for more diverse culinary tastes it would be truly perfect.

The resort itself is fascinating and quite worth exploring. Apparanently they recycle their own sewage, grow their own crops and are building an artificial island. Security is everywhere but quite unobtrusive. The FCO site will tell you to stay clear but we felt quite safe with the military presence both at Kapalai and at Sipadan - even if the soldiers do look about 16 years old! If somebody does want to try to kidnap tourists they'll face pretty stiff resistance.

Overall the place is excellent and well worth styaing at if you want to dive Sipadan. The transfers are quick and efficient and the resort is very well run. Highly recommended.

Dream of going back

by TripAdvisor Member OCDiver

I see some people complain about the service and the ammenities of the resort. I don't know what they are expecting when they go to a dive resort in the middle of the ocean. This place is all about diving. I found the dive master to be very helpful and excited in locating the critters we wanted to find. They found everything we were looking for from the ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish to the impossible to see pygmy seahorses. The diving was simply amazing especially if you like looking for little critters. I actually preferred diving in the sand looking for the little things. The diving on the house reef was great, you just have to slow down and keep your eyes open. We chose to do the early boat dives that left the resort at 5:30 AM so we could get 5 dives a day in. 28 dives for the week. Water was 82 degrees farenheit.

From an American stand point, the only thing I tend to agree with from other reviews is the food got a little old. I'm not used to eating fish and rice for every meal. They did bbq for dinner a couple nights and that was good. Breakfast they served eggs and waffles. Food was edible but nothing spectacular. Safety was not a concern anywhere in Malaysia.
Rooms were beautiful. I loved going to sleep to the sound of the water. The rooms made it seem like you had your own personal fish tank. The walk to the restaurant was maybe 5 minutes but often took us 15 to 20 because we were always stopping to look at the fish and coral. Overall it was an awesome trip. If it wasn't so far I would go back every year.

Loved Every Minute!

by TripAdvisor Member Kiwi_Msian

I stayed at Kapalai 14 - 18 March 2008. 5 days is not enough and the resort is fantastic. It's a diver's paradise! One is spoilt rotten. Everything is taken care of - all you need to do is show up for your dives.

There are 3 boat dives a day and unlimited pier dives at the resort. Everything is very well organised.The dive masters are GREAT. I was a bit unsure on my first day since I haven't dived for a few years - I got one-on-one sessions with the dive masters and couldn't get enough of diving by the 2nd/3rd day. I loved it and wished i stayed longer. Meet a guy who stayed there for 3 weeks and wanted to further extend his stay! Many who were there wished they had more time there to

Kapalai resort is the only eco friendly resort at Sipadan. They invest a lot in their water treatment and are serious about conservation. Rubbish is taken back to the mainland for disposal unlike many who just throw it back into the sea. They do a lot to conserve the marine life. For more info on the resort besides their website see

The staff can't do enough to help and make my stay comfortable. Very friendly! Food's good. I travelled on my own and had a blast! The resort will pair you up with another traveller (same gender) if you don't want to pay for a single supplement.

I would definitely return!

Wonderful stay

by TripAdvisor Member drdiverWisconsin

We just returned from an 8 day stay on Kapalai with my wife and 14 year old twin daughters. All of us dive and all of us had a good time. One of my daughters is talking about saving her money to come back. The bungalows are beautiful and well maintained the setting us as we imagined.
This resort revolves around diving, although a non-diver who likes the sun and snorkeling would have a great trip. A bonus was a week of no TV and none of us was bored.
The staff went out of their way to make sure everything was taken care of. The only complaint would we that the food was just OK.
Overall I would highly recommend this resort.

Very Enjoyable Stay

by TripAdvisor Member DC999

Chances are you will have travelled far to reach here and will be staying a few days - it's worth it.

1. The Diving at Sipadan is incredible - quite fantastic
2. The Kapalai resort is the closest to the island.

Good things about the resort:

1. Well organised
2. Airport pick up was seamless and relaxed
3. Staff very friendly and are always smiling
4. Diving "full service" i.e. all BCD's and tanks done by boat crew
5. Dive scheduling very well run
6. Best divemaster I've ever gone with (Eiko Yoshida)
7. Nice sociable areas and places to read quietly/relax
8. Relaxed atmosphere
9. Great rooms with outdoor deck areas to watch sunsets etc.

Things which need to be improved:

1. The food. It ranged from pretty tasty on occasions to motorway service station terrible on a daily basis. Diving makes you hungry, so most people were shovelling done huge quantities without complaint. I did start to wander what it would be like if the resort was owned by The French or Italians? The Malayasian food was also average. They did have nice yellow watermelon, which was very good.
2. They need to put personal safes in the rooms. For $180 per day, you think they could afford a better system that putting things in envelopes and handing them in at reception.
3. The boatboys stole my flip-flops on two occasions - cheeky and arguably harmless, it was still very frustrating as the decking gets very hot during thje mid-day sun.
4. Not enough sun-loungers when resort is full (or sunny)

The diving was awesome, and it's the nicest and closest pleace to Sipadan - so overall a very good stay!


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 Sipadan-Kapalai Island Resort

We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:

Sipadan Kapalai Island Hotel
Hotel Sipadan Kapalai Island
Sipadan-kapalai Dive Hotel Pulau Sipadan

Address: Kapalai Island, Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia