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“Awesome!”

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Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Awesome!”
Reviewed 29 September 2011

My gf and I stayed at the SKDR fro 5 nights and were blown away by the beautiful location and the resort itself! It's really an amazing feeling to stay in a place where everywhere you look, you feel like you're suspended above the ocean with no land in close proximity. The bungalows are really cool -- very spacious and clean with great views of the ocean. And it's pretty special to be able look out your window and see trumpet fish, lion fish, and even the odd sea turtle swim out from under the bungalow.

The main reason for coming here is the diving and we were fortunate enough to be able to dive Sipadan 2 days during our stay. It was fantastic! Words can't describe the experience of floating through a huge school of jackfish and being surrounded on all sides by a wall of silver. Or diving with a school of striped barracuda. And we saw so many sea turtles and reef sharks! The other local dive sites paled in comparison and after diving in Siapan and Mabul one day, we opted out of diving there a second day (Mabus was not bad but Siapan was very boring). Our equipment was fine and we opted to dive without wetsuits since the water was a nice 28C. One complaint I have is in the quality of the dive masters. Some were good but others seems fairly apathetic in what they were doing. Very little in terms of pre-dive briefing or watching the activities of the divers. For example, I saw 1 diver repeatedly grab onto live coral and and I notified the dive master who didn't seem to care too much. Also, there was no enforcement of the no-glove policy. When you go to Sipadan, they'll have a videographer with you to record your dive. The DVDs are a bit expensive but the production quality is fairly good so we bought a couple. If you're not a diver, you probably want to have a shorter stay as there isn't a ton of stuff to do there. The snorkeling is not bad and there's kayaking as well as an artifical beach/island to suntan but not much else. However, I still think it's worth visiting for non-divers

Despite the repeated complaints by other reviewers, we found the food to be fairly good. We had fresh grilled shrimp on a couple of nights and lamb chops on another. I guess it's a matter of expectations. We weren't expecting gourmet food but rather some good food with variety to fill us up after a day of diving. There was always a seafood dish which was nice, but as others mentioned, it's best to get to the dining hall earlier than later to make sure you get a chance to try everything. On the morning of our departure, resort was even nice enough to pack us a box lunch of chicken and fried rice. Very nice of them. I'll also mention that there's a bar where you can buy drinks (both alcoholic and not). The drinks were suprisingly reasonably priced except for the wine. So if you enjoy a glass while lounging on your sundeck in the evening, you may want to bring your own bottle.

Other things worth mentioning is that the rooms have no a/c and rely upon a ceiling fan and the ocean breeze to keep you cool. I actually found this to be a plus and enjoyed the break from the a/c. Also, since there are no mosquitoes around the resort, there's no problem in opening up all the shutters.

This is definitely a place that I plan to come back someday.

Room Tip: Try to get an outward ocean-facing room for the best views and privacy.
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank ciphertext
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Bolwarra, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
199 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2011

Styayed only a week, and wished it was two!!!
Managed to have 2 dives in Sipadan, and the rest at the other sites incl Mabul etc.
Room was equal to a 5 star resort. Minimal kids running around creating a disturbance as I guess this is pretty much concentrating on diving, not family activities, which is what we were looking for.
The gift shop could be better stocked, but that's just a small hint. Other than that, the staff from General Helper through to the Dive Masters were excellent standard with nothing but smiles and helpful.
Possibly consider a small tv/dvd to be able to be hired, so couples can watch their dive dvds in the comfort of their rooms. As far as other gripes about the food.. no complaints from me other than get to the restaurant on time as a small number of inconsiderate guests might jump in early and clean out the better meals...
Will be back.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Dave L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Italy
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2011

My and my girlfriend spent 2 nights on August 2011 in Kapalai Island Resort. I will not add any other excellent comment about the place that is in my opinion unique in the world! I only would like to say that the restaurant is not absolutely equal to the rest of the resort: the food is average and if you arrive at the end of the dinner time (from 7.00pm to 8.30pm) you don't find all the meals and the ones you have could be not warm enough. I think the management should improve this area, considering the rest of the resort and also the rates.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Trioev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 September 2011

Kapalai has some of the best and worst things in one resort.

It has the best location and the rooms are fantastic. They could be improved by having cushions on the loungers, items in the mini-bar.

The diving was good, I'd only bother with Mabul and Sipadan the rest are complete rubbish. The dive masters insist on diving at 18m when majority of the sea life sits between 8m-12m where you see the days, eels, turtles etc. At 18m you are macro diving with not much to see. The equipment is old and they don't have enough. My girlfriend is a size 8 and the only wet suit they had is an old one with holes in it. I am 1.9m tall and wear large t-shirts and they never had any wetsuits for me on any o the days, all they said was sorry and I had to bear the cold.

The worst was the restaurant, more like a mess hall. The food was shocking!!! People say it because if location but I have been to more remote places in Borneo that serve up better food. When i go to dish up food the last thing I want is someone else dishing up for me at a buffet table, you ask them for 1 potatoe and they dish up 6. The closest thing I could think of comparing it to was boarding school, same quality food, eating hall and staff. If you can get over this then you'll have a good time. But for the amount I'd paid to come here I couldn't help but feel cheated.

If this place was well run it would honestly be unbeatable, the owners are really missing a fantastic opportunity!!!

  • Stayed August 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Kuipermichael7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 August 2011

We enjoyed our stay at Kapalai very much. The location is stunning with turquoise seas stretching off into the distance. There are all sorts of fish just swimming around the resort, including rays and turtles, so this is an ideal place if you love the sea.

The chalets are beautiful with carved hard wood and balconies to enjoy the views out to sea. We were very comfortable. I enjoyed the food and the service was good.

The divemaster are excellent and attentive. Our guide, Michiyo, spotted all sorts of tiny macro life I would never have seen otherwise. The dive kit was good quality and well maintained. The staff got us permits to dive at Sipadan on our second day.

Our only issues were relatively minor:

Divemasters should enforce the No Gloves rule that is clearly displayed at the resort. Our guide did not prevent a German diver from wearing a glove. He used this glove to touch coral. He even rested on coral whilst trying to take photographs. Of course we had a polite word with him after the dive to remind him that this kills the coral but ideally this should be the job of the divemaster.

For some reason, they keep red wine in an ice-cold fridge behind the bar so remember to buy it a couple of hours before you want to drink it to allow it to reach the proper temperature.

If you want spirits, the smallest bottle they sell is 700 ml! So be prepared for a heavy drinking session or just bring a few miniatures from the mainland if you aren't into getting smashed.

As I say, these are minor issues and I will certainly be returning to Kapalai one day.

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank handytom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richmond, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
184 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 August 2011

There are very good reasons for choosing Kapalai if you want to dive at Sipadan - and a few things you should know to avoid being disappointed.
The place is absolutely beautiful: 50 bungalows on stilts along a wooden walkway a few meters above shallow water, 35 km from the coast of Borneo. When you walk around you can look down into the water and see turtles, trumpet fish, lion fish, rays... Each bungalow has a private terrace with a spot light shining down on the water, so in the evening you can enjoy the show, without getting your feet wet ;-)
Although the price is high, it is not, however, truly luxurious. The service is average and the food is really mediocre. The teenagers got quite bored: there is one ping pong table (wooden bats) and a TV. Since we had quite a lot of downtime (afternoons and the last 24 hours before the flight) that was a bit disappointing. Given the prices they should repair the pool table and buy some decent ping pong bats.
The diving, on the other hand, is sensational. We stayed 5 nights and were rewarded with 2 days at Sipadan, which is indeed an extraordinary diving experience. It is stressful that you never know if you'll get a permit - we were lucky, but some people ended up disappointed. It is worth noting, though, that the local diving is also very interesting. Our guide, Linda, was fabulous at finding interesting macro things to show, so even the teenagers really enjoyed those dives also.
The diving operation is reasonably well managed, but the equipment is so-so (we had several dives shortened by leaky o-rings), the boats are small and you don't actually get a chance to check your equipment before jumping in.

Room Tip: Get a room facing out towards the sea and not too close to the dive centre (noisy)
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Slow2Melt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
The low lands
Level 6 Contributor
123 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 August 2011

What a fantastic resort. Just make sure you have outward view, much nicer. The food is ok, but nothing special. Here you come to watch the underwater world and the rest comes rightfully in the second place. This is the only place where I have been where snorkling is almost as spectaculair as diving. No need to board à diving boat with all the gear. Just jump of the jetty and see turtles, moray, sting ray, and lots and lots of other fish and corals. The lay out and setting make it apparently a favourite honeymoon Resort.
Careful: te 45 min boat ride to Kapalai is not suitable for persons with a bad back. For rest: enjoy!

  • Stayed August 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank HansBrinker
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
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Sipadan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre 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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