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“Beautiful Resort built in the middle of the ocean!” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort

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Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
43 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 201 helpful votes
“Beautiful Resort built in the middle of the ocean!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2008

I stayed at Kapalai for 4D3N on a none-diver package.

The place is absolutely beautiful & amazing- although we were expecting the resort to be on an island or at least some land to walk on but it turns out that kapalai island isn't really an island, it's more like a resort build in the middle of the ocean.
Having said that, there's a beach that apears only during the hours of low tide (around 1~3pm).

The rooms are spacious & basic (there's no air con in the room, only ceiling fans) with amazing views (but be aware that people can also see you from outside!).

The water was amazing as well - you can see sting rays, star fishes and many more just by walking around the resort.

Although there are also couple of downsides...

When I made my reservation, I was told that the resort will be able to take me to the other nearby islands (Sipadan & Mabul) for a bit of snorkelling but when I got there, we were told that it's impossible for snorkellers to go to Sipadan as they only give have enough permits for the people that are on the diver package. He then said that we can still visit Mabul BUT it depends on the number of divers on their boat (which is always full as they always give priorities to the divers), so we ended up having to stay at the resort during our entire stay.

Also, there's not much choice of restaurant since the resort only have buffet - so it's buffet breakfast, lunch, dinner everyday.
And, there's no doctor on site - so if anything goes wrong, you have to go back to semporna, which is an hour boat away.
(So make sure you bring all the necessary medications!)

For none divers, I'd recommand 3D2N as it might start to get a bit boring after that.

  • Liked — Beautiful views
  • Disliked — Limited choice of activities
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Sophdobe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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516 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (80)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
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  • Any
English first
Singapore
Level Contributor
27 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 August 2008

We stayed here for 4 nights - it was truly fantastic. The resort was not quite what I was expecting. I was thinking along the lines of stilt houses off the beach of an island whereas this is a collection of stilt houses connected by a lot of walkways built on a sandbar in the middle of the sea! It's difficult to describe until you go there, but it is certainly one of the most unusual and spectacular places that I have stayed.

There are any number of positives about this resort - friendliness and efficiency of staff, spectacular location, proximity of wonderful diving, quality of the chalets. Aside from all the brilliant dives, the memories that will stick with me are: 1) sitting on our chalet's private deck and watching parrot fish, lion fish and barracuda swim right by while a couple of turtles were surfacing a little further away and 2) relaying in the evening on the sundeck/helipad with a beer while watching 5 lightning storms occur simultaneously on the horizon while the milky way was in clear view overhead (a novelty when you live in Singapore!).

On the slight downside - as mentioned in a previous review, the vegetarian options are not very extensive (an issue for my wife - I ate like a horse on all the fresh seafood). Also, I am not the most experienced diver, having done 9 dives by the time I arrived here. The majority of people on the dive trips were much more experienced and so I found myself relying on my buddy much more than on the divemaster. This was not a problem as such, but I would advise that if you are diving here as a novice, to take a good buddy and a computer.

In general though, this is a brilliant place to stay and to dive.

  • Liked — Amazing place and stunning diving.
  • Disliked — Leaving
  • Stayed July 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank SingaporeNick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
285 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 August 2008

Kapalai Island Resort was a hit for my husband and I and our 3 teenagers! The resort is beautiful, the bungalow's are comfortable, the food was great, and the dive team and dives were fabulous! We are planning a return trip!

  • Liked — Being in the bungalow over the ocean
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank bakerswoodfox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 August 2008

The resort was a dream, we had our own chalet with our own private deck looking out over the sea, which I believe all the chalets have. The food was fresh and delicious and the staff attentive. The diving was next to none, the number of turtles there was unbelievable and there was no need to go to Turtle Island that we also had on our itinerary. We saw reef sharks in the early morning amonsgt other sea life including box fish, baracudda and rays.

  • Liked — Suprisingly comfortable, better than a lot of hotels that I have stayed at
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed October 2005, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank TaliesinUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
uk
Level Contributor
13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 August 2008

You cannot really describe this hotel until you see it, but it really is worth the experience of going there.

The hotel is built on stilts in the ocean so every bungalow looks directly out into the ocean. The views are absolutely amazing, and if you are going for the diving, you cannot get accomodation closer to Sipadan island.

If you are at the hotel as a diver, its great as the diving is normally included in the price you pay. Snorkelling is also awesome at the hotel and you can tell by the quality of the reef that it's well looked after.

The food was ok at the hotel, but not a great variety if you don't eat meat. Staff are very accomodating however and will make sure you are able to eat something. They even provide a packed lunch on your day of departure if you leave before lunch!!

Staff were great and could not be faulted at this hotel, very helpful, knowledgeable and polite.

The rooms are very spacious and airy, and each room has a balcony directly over the ocean. It's very private as well so this is great for a get away.

The hotel does not have air con as it's eco-friendly. We thought this would cause a problem with the heat, but all rooms have fans and are easily cooled by the ocean air -so this isnt really a problem at all.

Getting to the hotel was a very long journey as we flew from KK to Tawau, (1 hr) then drove to Semporna (1 hr), then took a boat to Kapalai (1 hr)....But it is worth the journey though.

The resort is basic in terms of amenities which is the only downside, but the location more than makes up for anything that is lacking!!

  • Liked — The view & surrounding reefs
  • Disliked — Amenities were very basic
  • Stayed June 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank quixotic_spider
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oulton Broad, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
51 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 July 2008

First of all apologies for forgetting to write this review a bit sooner, only 18 months late!!
However I thought I should just give you an update on my second visit to Kapalai and the changes that were in progress on my previous visit and which were completed by this visit.
To accommodate the additional water huts and their occupants the dining area was extended and had a wrap around deck installed, the service as before was excellent.
On the diving side of things the facilities were much bigger and less attentive than before, however the most annoying aspect was the relentless assaults on Sipadan and forgetting the fantastic diving that is around the water village.
Hopefully by know they're is an option for at least 1 boat a day to be allocated for muck divers who like me were thoroughly cheesed with diving Sipadan every day?
Apart from this minor detail I will be back again for sure.

  • Liked — The Views
  • Disliked — Nothing to dislike
  • Stayed August 2006, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank dazzking
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 July 2008

My boyfriend and I stayed for just under a week in Kapalai in the middle of June and it was brilliant. We are both divers and chose the resort for this reason: Sipadan is one of the world's top 3 dive locations... a title it certainly deserves.

The accommodation is chalet-style on silts and is one of the roomiest we've experienced; a huge bathroom, bedroom and balcony to boot. Yes, you have limited hot water (activated in the room with a button when required) but we found it ample time for a shower and de-seawatering of long hair :-) The resort itself is a nice size - it didn't feel at all crowded and the staff were always friendly & helpful.

We were very impressed with the general standard of the resort considering it was an hour away from land by boat; both staff and supplies were brought in daily, whatever the weather, and all waste and rubbish was removed for safe disposal.

The food was plentiful and good; meal times were roughly set but we never turned up at the allocated times and never felt we went without or didn't have all we could. There was enough choice everyday that you didn't eat the same thing twice, lots of lovely fresh seafood and as a big a breakfast (cooked or not) that you could manage! There were always snacks available (cakes / biscuits / bread / toast / fruit etc) for refuelling between dives and - most importantly - water was ALWAYS available whereever you were. It was provided daily in your room, was always in dining room throughout the day, in the dive centre and on the dive boats between dives.

The resort is of course principally for divers and I'm not sure I would really recommend it to anyone who wasn't diving... it is literally in the middle of the ocean and unless you like to snorkel (a lot) there's not a whole lot else to do. The dive centre was efficient but there wasn't a great selection of kit...maybe we were unlucky... but my boyfriend struggled to find a wetsuit that would fit his stocky rugby-player shape! The dive staff were very helpful - this is the kind of dive place that encourages you to be VERY LAZY. All your kit is set up for you, so all you need to do is turn up & put it on.... makes for a very laid back stay though!

You get three boat dives a day:
- 5.30am start with 2 dives before breakfast and another at
11am.
- 9am start with 2 dives before lunch and one after lunch
- and we think an 11am start with 2 after lunch...maybe...

but unlimited house reef dives - which was great! Sunset dives and night dives were also possible on the house reef. The house reef is literally straight down from the dive centre and has a real variety of fish life. We loved the freedom of being able to go down by ourselves when we wanted to.

The diving in Sipadan was fantastic - my first time for turtles & I stopped counting them after my 3rd dive. Barracuda point is amazing and you have the potential to see hammerhead sharks.... sadly we missed out when we were there (the group before us saw them...and scared them off ;-)

We felt very lucky - our divemaster Alvin was good fun & we were lucky enough to join a group of Malaysian divers who were outgoing, friendly and fun, which made our dives all the better.... I really couldn't recommend this place enough!

  • Liked — Paradise location
  • Disliked — The choppy boat ride back at the end :-(
  • Stayed June 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Kitcat321
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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