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“Incredible - a unique place to stay”

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Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Incredible - a unique place to stay”
Reviewed July 13, 2009

We had the most amazing stay at the Kapalai Island Resort. It was so tranquil and such a wonderful experience. We spent 5 days and 4 nights are this resort on a dive package. This trip was part of our honeymoon and we would definitely recommend it. You don't have to be a diver to enjoy this place but unless you are diving you would probably not enjoy it as much if you want somewhere to sunbathe on a beach, in that case I would recommend Lankayan Island as it has a similar feel to here. The staff were incredible here and we did not have to lift a finger. They were bubbly and always up for a laugh we could not say enough in their favour about them. You are literally just 'plonked' in the middle of the sea which is fantastic. We had the end chalet so we had uninterrupted views around us, it was increadibly peacful and so relaxing. There is an abundance of sea life here and every dive we did here was different. The dive masters we had wer brilliant - in particular Ben, as he went out of his way to show us as much as he could. Sipidan is something to be experienced but be wary that you do not go every day - your name is put into a draught and if you are lucky enough to get there then you won't be disappointed.

Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank IJS7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Melbourne
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2009

We did the 5 Day 4 Night package with friends in early June and absolutely loved it. The resort is gorgeous and the staff are friendly and helpful. We went specifically for diving and got out to Sipadan twice in the 3 whole days we were there! Kapalai boats dominated Sipadan Island so I'm thinking they got the most permits!. Our other day was muck diving around Mabul and Siamil Island which was also very good especially if you like macro photography. The dive operation is excellent, very well organised and the dive staff very helpful and knowledgeable. We were very well looked after by the dive staff, they were always there to help you with your gear you never hardly have to do a thing. The boats and hire equipment were in good condition and seemed to be well maintained. The only qualms I had with the dive operation is that dive masters didn't explain enough about the dive sites in their briefings and they failed to check people's air whilst diving. Apart from that we were very happy with the whole operation and along with the boat dives there is unlimited pier dives around the resort. As for the resort itself, our over water bungalow was beautiful we had one of the larger chalets that had the view over the lagoon from the bath tub! There are many chalet's that didn't have this but all chalets had private balconies. The food was buffet style, delicious and plenty of it with a good mixture of fish, vegetarian and meat. The only thing I didn't care much for was the breakfast buffet, it was cold, so if you want hot breakfast go for the pancakes as they are freshly made while you wait. Dinner and lunch buffets were hot! Hot and cold drinks are available all day and there is a lovely bar area where you can buy alcohol. There is a small shop, library, games room and Internet (which is expensive). At the end of one of the piers is a man made beach area with sun lounges. There are steps around the resort although not near the chalet areas, down into the lagoon if you wanted to swim. If your not a diver then there isn't much else to do so this resort is really geared towards the diving community. We were sad to leave, it was paradise and would go back tomorrow if we could!

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
1 Thank skippyedo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed July 7, 2009

Resort is wonderful. Absolutely beautiful location with stunning sunrises and sunsets. I did not do any diving at the resort itself, but saw squid, turtles, rays and lots of fish just by walking to and from meals in the restaurant.
I found the dives thoroughly enjoyable with an enormous amount of sealife all around. Visibility was only about 10m, but that did not lessen my enjoyment of the dives themselves.
We are not die hard divers so I was a little concerned about the lack of non-diving activites, but this was not a problem. There isn't any tv and the internet service was not terribly reliable, but this was a blessing and gave more time for napping and lazing about.
Food was plentiful and adequate, but not great. Wine is available for purchase.

Tip: The sun can be brutal. If you use the umbrella in the room just to cast some shade it will make the mid day walks much more comfortable.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank rounddog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marlow
Level Contributor
156 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed June 10, 2009

We have just returned from a 4 night stay at Kapalai. We had an amazing time and dived at Sipidan on 3 days. We dived there 5 years ago when we were fortunate enough to be able to stay on Sipidan and it remains, for me, the best diving I have ever experienced.

This resort now seems to be the best place for diving at Sipidan as it seems to have more permits than other resorts and does not allocate them all well in advance. At other places we were told that there were no permits available at short notice.
It was also a very comfortable base. The chalets were spacious with great views (though I agree that it is a real shame that they did not have steps down into the sea. We watched turtles from our room virtually every night and on one occasion we saw a large eagle ray just below our balcony. The food was adequate (not very exciting but good enough). The dive guides were OK (some much better than others. Our orientation dive was led by Linda who was excellent but we also had some mediocre guiding) but the guys at the dive centre who help prepare the equipment were amazing!! - they were really friendly and couldn't do enough for us, washed our equipment after diving and always had it ready when we said we wanted to dive.
The cost was expensive for accommodation in Malaysia but overall we worked out that it was reasonable value for money when we worked out the number of dives we did in the time.

Overall, I would definitely recommend it and would go back there without hesitation.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Mocampion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
39 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed June 3, 2009

As already mentioned, the diving at Sipadan is extraordinary. The "muck" diving at Kapalai and Mabul is less spectacular for sure and appreciation depends on one's preferences.
But what about the hotel ?
The location is splendid, out in the water, on stilts, a few miles from the mainland. The rooms, or rather the bungalows are large with a king size bed and some furniture. A fan in the ceiling and no TV, no phone (no problem using my mobile). There's a nice bathroom with a blind window staring down into the water. Really nice taking your shower watching fish swim by. A large terrace with lounger (without cushions, so not very comfy). Unfortunately, there's no access to the water. All in all it was very clean.
The restaurant served buffet-style meals 3 times a day. The quality of the food was good, though not extraordinary. We felt that service was OK, but not outstanding. It seemed more geared towards independent travellers. Sometimes, the language was a barrier.
The service at the divecenter was good, the staff was always very helpful. But, if you have specific wishes, you need to express them and they will be very happy to help you. Otherwise, they'll just take you for a guided underwater tour showing what they find.
As a conclusion, this place is magical as long as you're a diver.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank fmevs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Macau/Melbourne
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed May 30, 2009

This resort was the first stop on our honeymoon, eager to do some diving and see some turtles! Upon arriving we could not believe how beautiful the resort was- cute wooden chalets above the most amazing aqua blue ocean with no land in sight- truly a hidden paradise. We could not believe it actually looked better then the picture! And the transfers from the airport to Semporna to Kapalai by boat were smooth.
The chalets themselves were beautiful with simple decor, and very spacious. Each had an individual balcony which had total privacy- including the bath with an open window overlooking the sea-amazing!!
The dive/resort staff were always helpful, making the diving some of the easiest i have ever done, with all equipment set out and ready for you, and someone always eager to help you gear up. The dive guides found all sorts of wonderful creatures, including many, many, many beautiful turtles over at Sipadan. The only disappointment was the inexperience/carelessness of some divers on the trip, but this was not the resort's fault.
Sipadan is an amazing island/reef, and truly gorgeous- much better then the other reefs at Kapalai and Mabul, which to be honest were average. Sipadan reefs are the main reason for going, and would be the reason to come back, and Kapalai dive resort make it easy to get there and make the most of it.
Food/drinks are always available, and as other reviews have said, yes, it is basic, but the quality was good, and there was always some variety, so we had no problems with this...
Really could not recommend this place enough for divers.... If you didn't dive, i think it could get a little boring here but there is always snorkelling and a small man-made island beach. If you are thinking of going to Sipadan to dive- stay here, you will not regret it!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mikaladavison
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hong kong
1 review
Reviewed May 28, 2009

Having dived the Sipadan area for a number of years, I found that I never had any reasons to stay at other resorts apart from Kapalai. The staff are friendly and helpful, the food is good, and the rooms reasonably large and comfortable. Being in the middle of the Celebes Sea , security is not a problem at all as there are no other people around apart from the resort staff and guests. Of course, no land means no flies and mosquitoes, and uncomfortable sand sticking to the feet. As a result, the resort is very clean and one can walk everywhere barefooted.
So much for the resort. As for the diving, well, this is Sipadan after all, and so far, I have not been disappointed at all. In fact, Kapalai offers the best of both worlds - the pelagics of Sipadan and the macro wonders of Kapalai and the nearby islands. Kapalai's dms are knowledgeable and accomodating. Want to dive a certain site? See that special critter? All you have to do is ask. Some friends say it's expensive, but in the 6 days we were there, we did 21 dives. Now, if that's not value, what is? And we could have done more if we wanted to!
Overall, definitely the place to stay.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank crusher50
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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