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“Underwater paradise with lovely bungalows on top”

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Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
Almere, The Netherlands
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Underwater paradise with lovely bungalows on top”
Reviewed October 17, 2012

I spent 6 days on Kapalai Island in February. We had a wonderful time. Did loads of diving and the guides (Wendy & Jeff) where great. On the day that we were scheduled to go to Mabul for a second time, we asked if it was possible to go to Siamil island instead. The guides arranged fuel for the boat and took us there. They're very flexible. Every evening dinner was a party and even more so on the BBQ night. We had great fun watching marine life from our bungalow and laughed a lot when a boat of Japanese arrived to snorkel (without them being able to swim). It is a great place for divers and they still have plenty to do for non divers. The only downside was the screaming of the children when we needed to sleep after 4 dives on Pulau Sipadan. Parents: teach your children to behave if you bring them. Other people want to enjoy the peace and quiet of this magical place.

Room Tip: All rooms are good. Some have better views to the horizon. All have good views of the marine life be...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Tink M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Austin, TX
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed October 15, 2012

My husband and I had an excellent time here in Sep 2011. (tripadvisor don't let me select last year's month)

We were picked up in a luxury a/c shuttle as soon as we touched down at Tawau, what we didn't know was we had to wait for other clients who were arriving at the same airport hours later. The wait was not fun at all.

But once we arrived at the resort, we were given quick orientation and got down to business to sort out diving itinerary, gears and etc. The chalet was wonderful, with a heavenly bathtub situated right above the sand bank. What's not to love when you could watch the fishes swimming around you while you are soaking in your tub? In the chalet, we get all the privacy we needed. It's quiet and beautiful to listen to the seawater at night and the feeding frenzy that occasionally happens underwater.

The dive crews are well organized and highly professional. They made sure your gears are always there and ensure your safety the whole time. We had video crew with us on one of our dives and I must say that our dive dvd was the best money we spent in the whole trip!

And when you need to take a break from diving, there is always the unlimited snorkeling/swimming you can do all around the resort chalet.

The food in the resort is good but can be tiresome after a while, especially when most people are staying there for 5 days or more. Anyway, I shouldn't complain about the Satay night. That was some good satays!!

I really enjoy this resort and would definitely recommend diving groups or couples to stay here in the future. This place is definitely for diving enthusiasts. I wouldn't recommend to bring non-divers here since there are really limited activities for them.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank travelneat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tokyo, Japan
Level 5 Contributor
36 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed September 24, 2012

Heard it's a great diving spot. Stayed three nights for a friend's wedding. Flew from Tokyo to KL (7h) then onto Tawawu (3h), a 1,5 h bus ride to a boat pier then a 50 min speed boat ride to the hotel. Unless you are into diving, you might not appreciate the travel. The ocean was beautiful without a doubt but the room and food was average. No tv, audio, and hair dryer in the room. You have to put on a bed sheet yourself on the first night. USD700 per person for double occupancy for 3 nights. That's almost USD500 per room for two persons per night including meals (buffet style) but excluding alcohol. Unless you are there for a special purpose like wedding or diving, it might not worth the money and time going there. Don't expect a gym or a spa at the hotel. You dive or dive.

Sunset was beautiful though, and staff were friendly.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank TokyoWorldTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rome, Italy
Level 6 Contributor
79 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed September 20, 2012

the unique location of this hotel, 5 min by boat from Sipadan is a must for divers. We bought 5d4n diving package which included 1 day in Sipadan (4 dives) and other days 3 boat dives plus unlimited house reef dives. The diving center is well organized and the staff is really professional. They took care of our gear during the stay cleaning it and asembllng every morning.

The chalets, all located over the water, have an amaziiiiiiiing view (from the bath tub as well), they are close one to another but actually they have like wooden 'walls' on the terrace and over the bathroom windows so you have 100% privacy. In the rooms you'll find everything you need (flip flops, umbrella, drinking wated, bathroom amenties, tea and coffee making facilities etc) . There's no safe deposit box in the room, but you can leave all your values at the reception.

The organization of the resort is perfect, beginning with a pick up at the airport, transfer, check in procedures and all the diving schedules.
If you arrive with the morning boat prepare to wait till the afternoon for your room, you'll get it probably after lunch.

The only reason why I give 4 and not 5 points to the resort is the quality of food. It was ok, but not as good as it could be considering the location ( I expected better fish and bigger choice of dishes).

Anyway I will never forget the turtles eating the 'sea grass' under our terrace... unique experience.

Would I come back again? I don't think so, it's too expensive and too far from Europe.
Would I recomend it? to divers - for sure, but I think there is not much to do if you're a non diver.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank PAULINA_roma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milan, Italy
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed September 18, 2012

A stay at Kalapi Dive Resort it's a dream for all diver, although very demanding. We spent seven days in paradise, the resort is very well maintained, there is flower everywhere and the room was big, confortable and always clean. The cuisine is Chinese \ Malaysian and at the buffet you have always a choice of sea food , fish, meat, chicken and vegetables. The buffet of sweets and snacks is always provided and at your disposal as water and fruit juice.
All the staff is lovely, kind and helpful.
The diving center is a real paradise for divers, directly from the diving you have access to the wonderful house reef and make many interesting diving. The owner is fantastic, he gave us the opportunity to dive in Sipadan for three full days and in Siamil for two full days. The organization of the diving is wonderful, the staff is more than lovely and helpful, they will help you for everything. Your diving equipments will be always ready, the boys of the staff will take care of everything. One of the best places for diving I've ever seen. I'd like very much to be back in Kalapai ! Thanks and compliments to all Kalapai Dive Resort

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Stefano1572
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taiping, Malaysia
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed September 12, 2012

If you are hoping to snorkel in the famed waters around Sipadan, then sorry, that is not possible. Sipadan is ONLY for certified SCUBA divers.

But don’t be dismayed – we spent three-nights and 10 hours of in–the-water snorkeling around the Kapalai resort and we were not disappointed. For someone who has dived in the Caribbean, and the Red Sea, I found the variety and number of fish here amazing. We counted seven turtles grazing in the sea grass outside our balcony the first day and saw more and swam with then while snorkeling. Also stingrays, moray eels, lionfish, and lot of sea birds.

There is a spacious dining hall and meals are plentiful buffets with lamb, chicken, beef, fish, calamari, and prawns – a couple choices each meal. Staff is friendly and courteous and helpful. Rooms are spacious and well situated to take advantage of the sea breezes – no a/c.

And no sand – you are out in the middle of the sea and everything is on stilts – so no sand in your room and no shoes in the restaurant.

You may want to specify that you want your deck facing open sea – we were facing the turtle gardens with another boardwalk in the distance – but there was plenty of privacy even with all windows open.

Now a word about the Mainland Chinese guests – they are the majority of the guests and many (some) are not friendly, considerate, or well mannered. But not to the degree that this would spoil your visit. Suggest that you let the ruder Chinese load up at the buffet first and then make your choices without all the pushing and shoving. And the staff will gladly set a reserved sign on a table if you find that the Chinese rush to hold every available table for themselves.

Suggestions to bring: flip-flops or sandals, sunscreen, shorts, T-shirts, swim suit, and a camera – preferably underwater – just about anything else you may need is provided or can be rented.

Room Tip: You may want an open sea facing room.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank stormrunner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 31, 2012 via mobile

My boyfriend and I just came back from a short 3D/2N trip to Kapalai. We took the non-divers' package and signed up for "discover scuba diving" at the resort since it was our first time. The sceneries around the island/sandbar is simply breathtaking! You could see different fishes and sometimes turtles swimming around the resort. Staff were friendly, food was alright, chalet was simple/basic & minimalistic but cozy. There was no TV, air-cond, hair dryer, which probably explains why the surroundings in Kapalai were so peaceful too, except for a couple of instance where we could hear a few ppl talking loudly in the next door chalets.

Also, we did notice a BIT of litter around the restaurant. At one point my bf caught a chinese national throwing a water bottle into the sea. It really made us cringe. Fortunately, only a few such chinese nationals (which made up of most guests there) that we encountered were less considerate. Other than that, the resort was clean and well maintained, our stay in Kapalai has just been wonderful.

We did the "discover scuba diving" for beginners at the resort for half day at Kapalai's house reef and Ken's reef. It was an awesome experience and the instructor, Benn, who was assigned to us was very patient with my bf, who has a bit of phobia with swimming in slightly deeper waters. We saw various fishes and turtles while diving up to 7.2 meters along the current. It made us wish we have no ear/hearing related issues that may prevent us from learning how to dive in deeper in the future.

We also opted-in for brief one-hour afternoon visit to Mabul island, which is about 5-10 mins boat ride away from Kapalai that the resort arranges daily for free for their guests (except on rainy days). The boat took us to the Sipadan Water Village, which is next to a reduced fishing village. But that area is simply no match to Kapalai's serene beauty.

Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank Xfelis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort

Property: Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Address: Kapalai, Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Sipadan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 60
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A few minutes by boat from the islands of Sipadan and Mabul but a full world away from it lays the exhilarating Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort, sitting on its sturdy stilts on the shallow sandbanks of Ligitan Reefs. Planned and built in full style as an airy, comfortable, sunny water village with no land in sight, it boasts a mile-long sandbank of powdery white sand where one can suntan at complete leisure while gazing out to the miles of brilliant turquoise stretching into the horizon offering the purest image of natural serenity. Dive spots Sipadan and Mabul can be reached in just a few minutes by speedboat. Sipadan-Kapalai is an ideal destination for diver and non-diver alike seeking a great holiday experience. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Hotel Pulau Sipadan
Sipadan Kapalai Island Hotel
Hotel Sipadan Kapalai Island

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