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.
There are several routes to take:
1. From Kuala Lumpur
Air Asia flies direct to Tawau daily ; www.airasia.com
2. From Kota Kinabalu
3. From Singapore
Malaysia Airlines flies to Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ; www.malaysia-airlines.com
SilkAir flies to Kota Kinabalu on Monday and Friday ; www.silkair.com
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'.
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.
The speedboat ride from Semporna to Mabul is about 45min depending on the weather and to Sipadan is about 1+hr
If you wish to take a taxi from Tawau airport to Semporna, cost is around RM80.
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
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 |