Semporna is a small village not far away from the city of Tawau in Sabah, East Malaysia. It’s a pretty remote place, but absolutely tranquil, being the home of a small population of delightful locals who make their living mainly in the fishing industry.
If you were to explore the world class dive sites and islands, such as Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mantabuan, and Mataking etc. , Semporna is an ideal place to stay in the mainland, to which the islands are easily accessible. The village is a peaceful, relaxing place to hang out in, after your adventurous day at sea. The many hotels and inns, though small and somewhat basic, are managed well, with simple yet satisfactory accommodation, complete with two (or more, depending on your preferences/ needs) beds, a clean bathroom, free internet service, and a good location, with many excellent selections of reasonably-priced local seafood close by. Being a fishing village, and a tourist location, the locals prepare the best cuisine with fresh seafood brought back from their daily fishing trips, each restaurant with a unique way of cooking.
In my opinion, this trip is definitely worth the time and money to go on. The diving facilities themselves are extremely convenient, being just around the corner from your inn, with a breakfast place on the way, your schedule is flexible, and easily adjustable. The dive centre itself is simple, just a counter with some people on duty to promptly arrange your trips, and an equipment stand for you to rent any pieces of gear you might not have. Besides that, there is a room for you to store and wash your used equipment, and save you a trip of bringing your gear to and from your room and boat each day.
Being a low budget, yet high quality trip, I’d say that this trip can be recommended to almost anybody, whether preferring going solo, or going with a family, or even just going with your friends or spouse.
The weather in Sipadan is generally calm all year round, so you can go there for vacation anytime. However, I’d advise against going in August and September, which is the prime of the rainy season. The surrounding area may rain more, the waves may be choppier, causing the visibility at the dive sites to decrease, and the whole bay area would be more prone to storms.
Also, it doesn’t matter if you can swim or not! That’s what snorkelling and diving are for! All you’ll have to do at most is kick your legs to propel yourself forwards. Semporna and its natural underwater treasures nearby can be the perfect place for more experienced divers, and new divers looking to learn. An advisable length of this trip would be around three days, seeing as how diving isn’t a strenuous activity, but does eventually tire you out. From personal experience, a three day stay in the village, with two or three dives each day would be an ideal range of time to satisfactorily enjoy the local culture, food, and the diving.
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