Sipadan Travel Tips

I've been there!
Have you been travelling here? Rate it!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(2 votes, 4.00/5)

If you have been to Sipadan before, please share your experiences, ideas and feedback (Hotel, Excursions, General Feeling,…) in the comments section below, by doing so you will help fellow travellers to plan their next trip ;)

Sipadan is a mythical Island for any diver. It should be on anybody’s wish list! This small island located on the East side of Sabah, the Malaysian Borneo is a world class diving destination and has been described among the top 10 best dive spots in the world.

The marine life is teeming and you will encounter “fishes wall”! Be careful not to lose your buddy in the fish cloud! The coral is also fantastic. In a nutshell Sipadan is just a dream location to dive ;-)

In this page you will find practical information to plan a scuba diving trip to Sipadan:

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Sipadan as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

You will have to stay in resorts either in Mabul Island or Kapalai Island.

Activities and excursions in Sipadan

As the Sipadan Island is a desert covered in sand, there is nothing to do here but to walk and admire the beautiful white sandy beaches. There are numerous monitor lizards on the island that you can easily spot.

Sipadan is a pure diving destination. It is also possible to snorkel but it could be difficult to board a diving boat as the number of seats is limited so ask ahead.

Sipadan itself is not really considered a family destination due to the lack of facilities but most of the resorts on Mabul and Kapalai have pools and babysitters services.

Sipadan Water Village Mabul

Photo Credit:

Health and Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Sipadan, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Where is Sipadan located in the world?

The island situated in Malaysia, on Borneo Island,on the East side of Sabah province.

See the map below.

Sipadan Map

sipadan map

How to get to Sipadan?

It not so easy to reach the Sipadan jewel but it is worth it!

  • Step 1
    Firstly, you need to fly from Kuala Lumpur (3 hours flight) or Kota Kinabalu in Borneo (55 min flight) to Tawau. The best companies to fly there are probably Air Asia (the low cost airline carrier) and Malaysian Airlines.
  • Step 2
    Once you have reached Tawau’s airport, you need to get to Semporna, which takes a little less than a two hours by car. It’s recommended to use a taxi or a shared van, which you both can find a the airport.
  • Step 3
    From Semporna harbour, you can then take a fast boat to reach the islands of Kapalai or Mabul (45 min) where you will stay. Since 2002, it is no longer possible to stay directly on Sipadan Island, so you will go diving to Sipadan on a day-trip. It is also possible to dive from Semporna on a day-trip but boat rides are long (around 1 hour).
    This entire trip can be arranged by your dive operator or your diving resort.
  • Step 4
    The boat ride from your accommodation to Sipadan will be 25 minutes if you stay on Mabul and 15 minutes if you stay on Kapalai.

Hot tips

  • Be aware that the number of divers is limited to 120 per day. You need a permit to dive in Sipadan and you have to book it in advance if you want to be sure to get it. Most of the time the permit is arranged by your diving resort when you will book for your accommodations.

Getting Around

There is nothing on the island itself. The only way to get around is walking around the Island between two dives.

Sipadan Diving

Photo Credit:

Sipadan Photos

Scuba diving

You will find all information about sea life, best time to visit, top dive spots, etc. in our review: Sipadan Diving

Diving Reviews for this region


Big fishes Land! Incredible Marine Life with tons of fishes everywhere... Fantastic coral and very good visibility.

Sipadan Diving Review

Liveaboard Reviews in Sipadan

MV Celebes Explorer

The 29 meters Celebes Explorer is the on

MV Celebes Explorer Liveaboard Review

Cruise ship Reviews in Sipadan

No review found

3 dive logs in “Sipadan”

  1. I’m trying to plan a trip to Sipadan Feb 2015 and I’m looking for a bit of info. I was thinking I would go around the second week of February, but would it make a big difference weather-wise to go the last week of Feb as that is almost the dry season? Also in regards to the permit, do you know how far in advance I can book it? Is it only possible to book a permit through a resort or do dive companies have them as well? I realize this is not a cheap place to dive, but I’m hoping to make it as cheap as possible as I’ll be traveling for several months. I would like to stay somewhere on the mainland and just make a day trip out to dive as I assume that would be the cheapest way to go, but I’m having a hard time finding info about whether that is even possible. Is it possible to squeeze a couple of day trips in close to one another? I would like to just head to that area for a day or two of diving and then move on to other parts of Borneo. Sorry for so many questions, I really appreciate any info you can provide!

  2. How to travel from langkawai to sipadan island for scuba ….and how far is it ……and which is the best means to travel .

  3. Hi
    NIce post about Sipadan. I am planning to dive there during 24th -28th March 2019 through some resort.
    I would like to know that is it fare weather condintionn for diving.
    since I am OWdiver and aged 52 I would like to specifically know about the Strong Current which I donot like as I cannot enjoy the diving in strong current. Also how is the visibility at that time of year.
    If current in one or two site is strong like Barracuda point i can leave that site Pl give your opinion.

Have you been travelling or scuba diving here? Rate it!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(2 votes, 4.00/5)

Have you travelled in Sipadan?

Have you been travelling or backpacking in Sipadan? Please consider sharing your experience by leaving a comment below!

Some inspiration for your Travel Comment: How did you get there, How did you travel around, Which Hotels did you use, Did you have a good time? Your email address will not be published.