minutes by boat from the islands of Sipadan and Mabul
lies the exhilarating Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort, it
sits on the sandbanks of the Ligitan Reef which is one
of the popular dive sites of Mabul Island. In general,
the entire resort is built of wood, miles of it which
make up the entire resort structure and walkways. When
you walk around, you will most likely see all kinds of
beautiful coral fishes on your left, right and even
under the walkways as if you are in an aquarium.
From one look, you may think that the
resort resembles a Balinese style but in actual fact,
the resort takes the design from a traditional Bajau
architecture design combined with some modern
contemporary style. Ironwood or Berlian is also used for
the entire construction of the place.
This is one of the most beautiful
island resorts in Malaysia. Even it’s not this is not an
island but actually a sand bank with a resort built
over, it and is one of the largest environmental
friendly resorts in this part of Sabah.
Over the years, it has been commonly known as Kapalai Island and this stunning luxury resort sits just
off Mabul Island.
Dive spots are extremely close and
can be reached in just a few minutes by speedboat and
some of them, actually, just by swimming from the dive
center pier. For those who are ready to explore more
than the tiny marvels of Kapalai’s macro life, can, in
just a few minutes, dive in Sipadan. With a combination
of sun and water in a unique and serene setting with
friendly staff, Sipadan-Kapalai is an ideal destination
for divers and even non-divers who like the sound of
western sundeck with sitting area allow guests to have
an evening drink with a view of Kapalai’s fabulous
The chalets at Kapalai
counts 59 over-water bungalows (chalets), built on
stilts and accessed via wooden boardwalks. These chalets
are all equipped with fan cooling, hot showers and a
bathroom, There is also a small balcony with chairs.
There is no air-conditioning available but the resort is
well placed for cool breezes which go through the
Fan-cooling was more than adequate. In fact the
wooden wall-paneling can be opened up allowing sea
breezes to waft right through your chalet, so there is
really no need for air-conditioning at all.
The chalets are cleverly designed for
natural airflow which cools the units down. In other
words, there is no air conditioning here, but the
location of this resort is quite windy with no
Each of the chalets are twin or triple sharing which
come with private bathrooms attached with shower and
bathtub, basic toiletries, coffee and tea making
All chalets offering twin and triple
sharing accommodation are attached with a cleverly
thought-out balcony which offers the total sought out
privacy by the lovers of sunbathing and sun tanning. The
chalets are also equipped with a private bathroom with
shower and bathtub, basic toiletries, coffee and tea
making facilities and 220 volts electrical points.
From the windows and balconies of the elegant and
spacious rooms, one can spend endless hours looking at
the sea just a couple of meters below.
All meals are served at the central open-plan building,
which boasts an amazingly beautiful open-air wooden
terrace. It’s all well organized and there is a good
The resort serves buffet-style food, both western and
Asian cuisine 3 times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner
are all served in the main dining hall and there is also
a lovely BBQ for dinner.
Daily complimentary breakfast – coffee/tea, fruit
juice, toast, fruit, cakes / pastries, eggs, sausages,
|Tea time is between 3 and 5 pm with local cakes and
desserts, available at the dive center.
There is always coffee, tea,
fruit drinks and drinking water available throughout the
Kapalai has crowd control measures in place for
mealtimes, where servers are stationed at the buffet
table to ensure that guests do not abuse the buffet.
For a buffet, the quality of the food is really good.
(There’s no option to eat ‘a la carte’)
In the reception/admin office area there are 3 computers
for the guests to use. Next to this you can find a gift
shop, a TV and library room and also a game room
equipped with a pool table and table tennis.
Wi-Fi is also available in the restaurant area; however
don’t expect a ‘broadband’ connection. Especially at
mealtimes when everyone is there trying to get online it
Kapalai’s chain of chalets, are all linked by miles of
wooden walkways for those who like to take their morning
walk or jog.
What stand out here are the incredible sea views that
allow you to see natural marine life from all over the
|Walking around (or even from your private
balcony), the crystal clear water shows you all kind of
fish, corals and even turtles that pass by.
Of course they also provide plenty of watersport
activities; Snorkeling around the resort is amazing; you
have access bridges throughout the entire resort. Sea
kayaks are also available at the dive center so you can
easily explore the resort and surrounding islands.
A man-made island sundeck at the end of the reef is also
one of the main highlights which stretch out into the
ocean from the main resort. Powdery white sand
accompanies a couple of palm trees with sun deck chairs
here with a staircase down to the sand bank.
Diving at Kapalai Island
For the serious scuba diver, Kapalai does day trips to
the world class Sipadan Island and also to other popular
dive spots around Mabul Island. Many head here as
Kapalai is well known for their macro diving where you
can find quite a number of unique macro critters like
the weird and techno-colored flamboyant cuttlefish.
In total, there are about ten dive sites around Kapalai
Island and all of them require a few minutes boat ride
out while some are just meters away from the resort.
Diving around Kapalai is exceedingly 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, shamelessly colorful subjects,
making the diving here an unforgettable experience.
|The Kapalai resort dive center organizes 3 guided boat
dives per day to Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai. They also
offer a variety of scuba diving courses for all levels
and abilities available.
As well as supplying all diving gear.
Each diver is allowed to sign out one towel per day
You’ll be diving from (fast)
fibre-glass boats. The boats all had very experienced
boat crews who were always friendly and helpful.
The guides were great at their job too.
Outside the dive center there is a washing and drying
area with racks for wet suits and booties. There are
also buckets filled with fresh water to rinse your
equipment. For cameras there is a separate tank. At the
end of each day's diving, you can store your scuba gear
in a personal box in the equipment shed. You can leave
all your stuff overnight at the dive center.
The crew will rig up for you after every dive and rinse
your BCD and regulator at the end of the day.
Three open showers, two enclosed showers and two toilets
are available at the dive center.
When diving Sipadan, you don't have to worry about
lunch. This is served on the island where you can also
relax after each dive.
Our ratings below are based on our personal
experiences. They are also adapted to our needs
as divers. Meaning that we’re less focused on
Therefore you should only pay attention to our
ratings if you’re planning a diving holiday.
Where we base our score
Room size, beds,
cleaning, bathroom, location,
environmentally friendly, etc.
activities, organized trips, TV,
Internet, phone, area etc.
Quality of equipment, boats, crew, dive
guides, location, service, marine
This is a world class 5 star scuba diving paradise.
Divers and snorkelers do not need anything else!
This resort is unbelievably beautiful, the location and
entourage is really like a fairytale.
From the very beginning to the very end of our stay, all
the staff at the Kapalai Dive Resort was amazing. The
resort itself is extremely well run and clean.
This is by far the most beautiful island resorts I’ve
It’s highly recommended for anyone who loves privacy and
/ or scuba diving.
However, if you’re not a
diver, and you don’t like the ‘sound of silence’ it
might become boring after a couple of days…