Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort

Only a few minutes by boat from the islands of Sipadan and Mabul, but a full world away, lies Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort. Perched upon sturdy stilts over the shallow sandbanks of the Ligitan Reefs, Sipadan-Kapalai is an ideal vacation for avid divers and snorkelers. Uniquely designed as an airy, comfortable, water village with no land in sight, the resort boasts a mile-long sandbank of powdery white sand where you can gaze out over the Sulu Sea’s endless brilliant turquoise waters stretching to the horizon.

This environmentally friendly resort has fifty elegant and spacious wooden chalets each offering an over water deck with total privacy perfect for sunbathing or watching the marine life just a few feet below. 

Dive spots are extremely close and can be reached in just a few minutes by speedboat and some of them, 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, in just a few minutes you can dive world-famous Sipadan, where big fish and turtles abound. Or, you may venture to Mabul where the silky and muddy bottom offers bizarre critters living in the muck.

Your days will be filled with sun tanning on the beach or your private balcony, and marveling at the world class dive sites around Kapalai and Mabul, as well as day trips to Sipadan Island with its outstanding wall dives. Each trip ends with great food and freshly cooked snacks after diving.  This is the place to fall in love with macro diving as shore diving at Kapalai is free of charge. The snorkeling is wonderful with spectacularly colorful mating mandarin fish right under the resort jetty.

Resort facilities include the dive center which provides diving, snorkeling and kayaking equipment for rent as well as broadband internet access. There’s also a souvenir shop, game room and large sunning deck perfect for a sundowner. Delicious and sumptuous meals are served buffet style at the open central restaurant.

Innovative in concept with a touch of traditional Kampung (means ‘village’ in Malay Language) design; Kapalai’s chain of chalets are all linked by miles of wooden walkways for those who like to take their morning jog while looking at thousands of fish swimming just a few feet beneath. “Broadband Internet Access, satellite phone, fresh water from mainland, free from mosquitoes & flies” are some of the words uttered by our customers.All 59 wooden 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. Chalets are also equipped with bathrooms with shower and bathtub, basic toiletries, coffee and tea making facilities and 220 volts electrical points. From the windows of the elegant and spacious rooms, one can spend endless hours looking at the sea as if it has a life on its own just dancing to its never ending tune just a couple of feet below. As for dining, enjoy a sumptuous meal served in buffet style under the terraced, open central structure. A big western sundeck with sitting area allows divers to have an evening drink or an after-dive chat with a view of Kapalai’s fabulous tropical sunset. It is also the perfect place to share your underwater images and videos after dive. Others enjoy reading while immerse in the cooling sea breeze of Kapalai.


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. Home to the weird and techno-colored flamboyant cuttlefish rumbling on the bottom like a miniature tank rippling with fluorescent waves of vermilion, purple, chocolate brown, bright yellow and blinding white, all the time waving and flourishing its paddle-shaped front tentacles like some samurai of yore, looking more like a sensuous orchid than a predatory cephalopod ; it is the domain of the invisible frogfish found in Kapalai in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors- which despite sometimes being as large as a melon will often escape even from the most trained of wildlife spotters.

Swimming, creeping, crawling or just simply lying still on the surrounding sand bottoms, hiding among the branching colonies of the shallow surrounding coral reef, ambushing their unwary prey from the hideouts offered by the resort stilts and a few artificial reefs dotting the bottom, an amazing number of rare and unbelievably colorful species play their game of life and death, offering discriminating visitor unsurpassed opportunities for interesting observation and macro photography for any discerning photographer. Though diving is the highly commended activity in Kapalai, there are other water activities one can indulge in such as swimming, snorkeling as well as ocean kayaking while looking at the many colorful fish swimming freely just a few inches beneath.