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Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai - getting there


fishermen out to sea, spotted on the way to mabul

This is generally the route to take when thinking of travelling to Sipadan, Mabul or Kapalai. Catch a flight to Sabah, normally point of entry is Kota Kinabalu or Tawau. For those arriving at Kota Kinabalu airport, you are possibly flying in from Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong or any other country of origin apart from Malaysia. For those flying from Kuala Lumpur, then you will have a choice of either to fly direct to Tawau or to fly via Kota Kinabalu and catch a connecting flight.

Before doing all this, best for you to do a little homework on which resort you wish to stay at whilst visiting Sipadan, Mabul or Kapalai. Then resort operators will make arrangements to meet you at the Tawau airport and who will then whisk you off to Semporna by private van which takes about 1hr or so. The roads connecting Tawau and Semporna are good. Not much can be said for the scenery though. Miles and miles, as far as the eye can see of ...palm oil plantations.

It's always best to book your trip in advance as the busy diving months can mean full occupancy at the resorts. The last thing you'd want to be is disappointed.

Always book the earliest flights out to Tawau as some of the resorts have scheduled boat transfer times and if they have to transfer divers at an unscheduled hour, it'll cost.

By Air

There are several routes to take:

1. From Kuala Lumpur

Air Asia flies direct to Tawau daily ;

Malaysia Airlines flies to Kota Kinabalu with connecting flights to Tawau daily ; , Mas Wings

2. From Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia Airlines flies from KK to Tawau daily ; , Mas Wings airline webpage

3. From Singapore

Malaysia Airlines flies to Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ;

SilkAir flies to Kota Kinabalu on Monday and Friday ;

Air Asia flight from KL to Tawau, no delay this time...lucky us!

Flights coming in from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu normally arrive late evening. It will be advisable to spend a night in KK (accommodation is much better than in Tawau..) and then take the connecting flight to Tawau early the next morning. Flight time from KK to Tawau is about 40minutes.

Those of you waiting in between flights, and have 3 to 4 hours to spare, just catch a bus from Tawau airport to town for a walkabout. Cost is minimal , about RM5 and takes about 20min. Tell the driver you want to be dropped off near the market place.

Tawau Airport Bus Schedule to Tawau town : 7.15am, 9.15am, 10.50am, 12.15pm, 2.30pm, 3.50pm 6.50pm

Tawau town to Tawau Airport Bus Schedule:5.30am, 8.00am, 8.30am, 10.30am, 1.00pm, 2.30pm, 5.00pm

If you're unsure, take a taxi to town for about RM35 per way. But on the way back from town, you can bargain with the taxi driver for a cheaper rate taking you back to the airport. You can pick up a taxi from the 'bemo station'.

By Bus

For those not wanting to take the private van or arriving at Tawau from another part of Sabah, it's possible to take a public van like a bemo, from Tawau to Semporna. This 'station' is situated close to the markeplace. But be prepared to wait.

Those not wishing to fly on return to Tawau from Semporna, there are buses leaving for the larger towns in Sabah from the outstation bus terminal eg to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan.

By Boat

The speedboat ride from Semporna to Mabul is about 45min depending on the weather and to Sipadan is about 1+hr

By Taxi

If you wish to take a taxi from Tawau airport to Semporna, cost is around RM80.

more on Mabul story...


Accommodation & Packages to North East Sabah ~ Tawau, Semporna, Mabul and Kapalai, Mataking, Sipadan , Lahad Datu & Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Accommodation & Packages:


| Heritage Hotel | Belmont Marco Polo | Promenade Hotel


| Borneo Global Sipadan Backpackers | City Inn | Han Palace Hotel | Marina Hotel | Seafest Hotel | Singamata Adventure Semporna | Sipadan Inn | Sipadan Inn 2 | Day Trip To Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise |


| Arung Hayat Sipadan Adventures Lodge | Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge | Sipadan Water Village Resort | Sipadan Mabul Resort | Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort | Seaventure Platform | Mabul Water Bungalows | MV Celebes Explorer Liveaboard | Day Trip To Mabul Island |


| Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort |

Mantabuan Island

| Day Trip To Mantabuan Island |


| Reef Dive Resort | Day Trip To Mataking Island |

Boheyan Island

| Day Trip To Boheyan Island |

Pom Pom Island

| Celebes Beach Resort | Pom Pom Island Resort |

Sibuan Island

| Day Trip To Sibuan Island |

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

| Tabin Wildlife Resort |

Danum Valley

| Borneo Rainforest Lodge |

Tawau Hills Park & Maliau Basin

| Drive Around Borneo in 10 Days |

Lahad Datu

| Asia Hotel | De Leon Hotel | Executive Hotel | Felda Residence Sahabat | Kingston Hotel Grace | My Inn | Royal Palms Hotel & Spa | Silam Dynasty |

Combination Trips

| 10 Days 9 Nights Sabah Nature & Sipadan Dive Trip | 10 Days 9 Nights Kinabalu , Sandakan Wildlife & Kapalai Dive Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Mount Kinabalu Climb and Sukau Wildlife Adventure | 7 Days 6 Nights Kota Kinabalu & Sandakan Wildlife Adventure | 6 Days 5 Nights Sandakan Wildlife Adventure & Lankayan Island Trip | 5 Days 4 Nights Sukau -Tabin Wildlife Experience Package | Borneo's Big 5 in 10 Days |


Malaysia Islands

Peninsula Malaysia Islands

| Pulau Aur | Pulau Besar | Pulau Bidong | Pulau Duyung Besar | Pulau Gemia | Pulau Kapas | Pulau Langkawi | Pulau Lang Tengah | Pulau Pangkor | Pulau Payar | Pulau Perhentian | Pulau Pemanggil | Penang | Pulau Rawa | Pulau Redang | Pulau Sibu | Pulau Tenggol | Pulau Tioman |

Peninsula Malaysia Coastal Beaches

| Marang | Merang | Rantau Abang | Penarik | Port Dickson | Tanjung Jara | Cherating |

Sabah and Sarawak ~ Borneo Islands & Coastal Beaches

Sabah Islands ~ | Gaya Island | Kapalai | Pulau Mabul | Pulau Sipadan | Selingan Turtle Island | Mantanani Besar Island | Manukan Island | Mataking Island | Lankayan Island | Layang Layang Island | Pom Pom Island | Pulau Tiga Resort (Survivor Island) | Mari Mari Sepanggar - Sepanggar Island |

Sabah Coastal Beaches ~ | Kinarut, Papar | Tuaran |

Sarawak Coastal Beaches ~ | Damai Beach, Santubong | Kayakking with Dolphins |