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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Built 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Kapalai’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.