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“Loved Kapali”

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Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
Hong Kong, China
Level 6 Contributor
303 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“Loved Kapali”
Reviewed January 13, 2009

This is a wonderful resort; well run and extremely friendly. Excellent diving and food and there are so many places to chill out even if it is completely over water. I have seen Mabul Island and Semporna and I think it is the best. I was told most of the business was repeat and I did asked a lot of fellow guests and indeed most were repeat guests. Must say something.

  • Liked — clean and well thought out
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Lankylee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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542 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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Penang
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 22, 2008

Nothing like it in Asia or even in the world, so relaxing & enjoyable...staff are so friendly and of course we'll be back

  • Liked — Comfort...Friendly staff
  • Disliked — -
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank fahmi_helmi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
australia
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed November 24, 2008

We stayed 4 days at Borneo Divers mabul resort and 4 days at kapalai Island resort.

Kapalai was cheaper, had better food, better diver masters, exceptional rooms, better staff generally, excellent service, better location.

This is the best place to stay if you want to dive at Sipadan.

  • Liked — location and rooms
  • Disliked — all good
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank antspants
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, England
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed November 11, 2008

We stayed here for 2 nights as part of our 2 week honeymoon in Sabah, Borneo 31st Aug 08 and 1st Sep 08.

This resort is beautiful. Our room was lovely although we did notice there is a range of accommodation available and we were lucky to get our room which had a sea view from the bath and an unobstructed view out to sea. It’s great to watch all the sealife swimming around the stilts that the resort is built on. Major wow factor there. You will undoubtedly see hundred of blue spotted rays, barracuda, star fish, batfish and so on. There is an area in the middle of the restaurant where you can look down and see through to the reef. Again there is plenty to see here.

We found 2 nights to be about right here as although my husband dives I do not and the facilities really are geared up for divers and not much else. As this really is a dedicated dive centre you can feel like you’re on a production line. It’s a game of numbers – shipping in and out every few days the hundred odd people who have made the pilgrimage to come and dive at one of the best dive sites in the world. We felt there was a much less personal touch than at Mataking Island where we stayed prior to this (40 mins away by boat). Saying this I am pleased we stayed here as the setting is just amazing and I was quite happy snorkelling.

In the month leading up to our arrival in Borneo the Malaysian government had really come down on the number of divers allowed to dive at Sipidan to rightly try and protect it as the wonderful site it is. As a result each resort alegedly has a quota in terms of people allowed to dive there every day, however it didn’t seem to be that simple and appeared to be quite a lottery as to how many guests from your resort they’d let in on any given day. In short the system is chaotic and inconsistent. My husband got up one morning at 5:00 to go to Sipidan as he had been allocated a space to dive there. On arrival at the dive site the boat waited for 45 minutes whilst lengthy negotiations ensued. In he end the boat was turned away as the resort had apparently flouted the rules the day before and had attempted to sneak in an unscheduled boat before sunrise. The authorities had been tipped of and the resort was being given a ticking off. Because of their stupidity my husband paid the price and ended up not being able to dive there at all as the following day we were flying out in the afternoon so he couldn’t dive that morning.
The problem is that Kapalai are increasing the size of the resort (building new huts whilst we were they) but they can now ship over fewer people to dive at Sipadan than ever and of course that’s the main reason 90% of people seem to choose to stay there.

We met numerous people who had come from all over the world to dive the world famous reef here and they were being told they would be lucky to get 1 dive there in 3 days or perhaps 2 in a week. We were led to believe that a dive at Sipadan would be a formality if we wet for 2 days. In the end we piled on the pressure to get my husband on a dive boat at all and as described he then didn’t dive. The current system really is ludicrous and whilst it may get better it probably won’t immediately. In my husband’s words: to say it is supposedly the superior dive site to stay at to dive at Sipadan, the dive centre was not up to the level one might expect. They clearly haven’t got their act together as regards the new Sipadan rules and it seemed generally disorganised and not particularly friendly. No great interaction and banter from the dive masters and staff and lack of professionality. For example on the day we left my husband did go out as a snorkeller on a dive boat, again at 5:00 and the boat full of geared up divers had to wait 40 minutes for the dive master who had overslept!!

In conclusion:

> Setting and wow factor – great!
> Quality of hut – very nice
> Dive centre – disappointing and disorganised to the point of being shambolic
> Food – fine… consistently nice without being amazing
> Non-diver appeal – V limited beyond a couple of days. Nothing to do but sun lounge in the day and nothing at all going on at night, not even a bar to prop up.
> Overall summary – Unless you’re there 100% for some very serious diving and nothing else we’d recommend Mataking instead. Small, friendlier, better organised dive centre (with dives to Sipadan – 1 hr on boat), beautiful island setting, better house reef snorkelling, better food and a nice bar / evening set up. If you do choose to go, have realistic expectations about how much diving you’ll do at Sipadan!

  • Liked — Setting and our hut
  • Disliked — Dive centre
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank fll7jkh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alibry
Level 6 Contributor
75 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed November 4, 2008

Absolutely the most magical place I have every been! Incredible setting and service. Some food was very good, some was just good. NO COCKTAILS - that was a huge dissappointment. Only beer and wine by the bottle. But incredible scuba diving and guides and absolutely incredible accommodations. Would highly recommend.

  • Liked — setting
  • Disliked — no cocktails
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank alibrygotta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 28, 2008

This was our second stay this year at Kapalai, after being so impressed the first time that we felt we had to return.

The food has improved from the first time, otherwise the resort is as exceptional as ever, incredible setting and phenomenal service from friendly helpful staff.

The only let down and unfortunately it is a big one is that restrictions on Sipadan diving have been tightened, we managed two days at Sipadan out of five diving and were lucky to get that, other guests had one day in five. The government limits permits per resort, Kapalai had between 13 and 18 a day and government officials checked identity at Sipadan both morning and afternoon.

Other than Sipadan the resort has started diving at Siamil, not very exciting and mainly macro, though we did see a Gurnard there which was fantastic. As Mabul and Kapalai are both Macro sites, this meant that we went expecting Sipadan every day as in April and spent most of our time doing Macro with only 6 out of 19 dives at Sipadan compared with 8 out of 12 in April.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank divemania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 6, 2008

My husband and I travelled here for 6 nights primarily for the diving and choose this resort based on other trip advisor comments and our agent who had been there previously. This resort is beautiful, the setting is unbelievable and the diving at Sipidan is breathtaking. I'd alway wanted to dive with turtles - there are so many turtles here, it was wonderful. Fish life was great, big schools of baracuda, sharks, soft corals .... Here we were introduced to macro diving and photography - this is macro heaven for sure. As far as the resort and staff go, we think it was 1st class. Our room was located at the very end of the pier - this was magical. The food in our opinion was excellent - we enjoyed every meal - there was a great variety of everything. Other reviews say the food was not great, we've travelled a fair bit and can't work out what the negative feedback on food is all about. The dive centre runs like clockwork - you will be impressed. There are staff galore onhand, basically you just need to rock up 5 mins before your dive, put on wet suit and get yourself in the dive boat. Absolutely everything is taken care of for you. During our stay we dived on Sipidan 6 dives - you are not gauranteed to be able to go to Sipidan everyday - however the diving at Kapalai is still fine, its completely different to Sipidan. It was a privilage to experience this unique destination, we will go back.

  • Liked — The unique overwater setting and standard of service
  • Disliked — We couldn't fault it.
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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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