Kapalai Island

Dive Map Kapalai Island Semporna Sabah

Kapalai Island Semporna Sabah

Description :
Kapalai is a shallow reef that resorts have built upon to form a true water resort. There is something undeniably romantic about falling asleep with the sea breeze wafting in through your cabin as the shallow water gently laps below. Kapalai was originally popular given its close proximity to the legendary Sipadan Island and Mabul Island, but is now appreciated in its own right with some word class macro diving. It’s true that many divers visit Kapalai and never even go to Sipadan.
Where is it :
Semporna, Sabah, East Malaysia
Number of dive sites :
Type of Diving :
Guided – boat, deep, drift, night
Skill Level :
Beginner to advanced
Main Diving Attraction :
Macro life (common findings include: frogfish, mandarin fish, blue ring octopus, mimic octopus, orangutan crabs, spider crabs, various species of nudibranchs)

* Not to mention its close proximity to the world famous Sipadan and Mabul islands.

Average Water Temperature :
27°C (80.6°F) to 30°C (86.0°F)
Seasonality :
All year round (ideal time to visit between April to October)
Typical Visibility :
5m (16ft) to 15m (49ft)
General Current Conditions :
Mild to strong
Family / Non-Diver Friendly :
Availability of Other Leisure Activities :
Snorkelling, Island Hopping, Sea Kayak.
Availability of ATM / Foreign Exchange Bureau :
None in Kalapai. Available at Semporna.
Availability of Medical Facility :
None in Kapalai. Available at Semporna.
Here are some of our favorite dive sites 🙂
The Jetty :
• Maximum depth: 20m
• Currents: Mild
Right off the island’s jetty are 5 small wrecks bursting with marine life. The wrecks are closely clustered together, this site offers a good mix of both large pelagics and small critters. Schools of groupers and snappers can be seen swimming overhead as the stonefish hide among the boats’ corners. Be sure to look among the wrecks’ nook for orangutan crabs, nudibranchs and shrimps.
Mandarin Valley :
• Maximum depth: 20m
• Currents: Mild
This site should be renamed macro paradise for the sheer amount of wonderful critters to be found. Slowly descend down the gentle slope, don’t go too fast or you’ll miss the camouflaged residents such as the stonefish and frogfish watching you go by. Patience is key, search among the rubble and corals and you may just be rewarded with harlequin ghost pipefish, octopus, leaf fish, jawfish, flamboyant gobies, and the many colorful mandarin fish that gives the site its name.
Gurnard Point :
• Maximum depth: 20m
• Currents: Mild
Descend down the reef lies a small wreck where you may spot its resident giant frogfish, and lots of moray eels! After the wreck, you’ll make your way down to a sandy plateau and watch out for stingrays darting away from the dive group. The site is crammed with marine life as you are also likely to see schools of boxfish, batfish, dragonets, and octopuses. As you make your way back up to the shallow areas, you may also see the very unusual flying gurnard which looks like a peacock underwater – fascinating indeed!
Mid Reef :
• Maximum depth: 30m
• Currents: Moderate to strong
The currents can get strong here, so hold on to the reference line as you make your way down. Why go through all that trouble you may ask? Pygmy seahorses of course!
Black Ray Channel :
• Maximum depth: 20m
• Currents: Low to mild
Descend down and cruise along a sandy channel keeping the reef at your side. Keep a keen eye out for ribbon eels, stonefish, ghost pipefish, and the beautiful lavender colored frogfish. Crossing over the sandy channel which gives the site its name and you will proceed to an underwater garden of extraordinary richness! Here you may catch sight of various nudibranchs. The coveted prized sight is the dragonfish or pegasus, usually found in pairs on the sandy bottom. Find it, and your dive group will be the talk of the resort for the entire day.
Nearest Jetty :
Semporna Jetty
* Approximately 45mins boat ride to Kapalai Island
Address :
Taman Bandar Semporna, 91308, Semporna, Sabah
Nearest Airport :
Tawau Airport (IATA: TWU)
Estimated Travel Time to Jetty from Tawau Airport :
1.5hrs (by car), with average one way taxi fares of ~RM100
Estimated Travel Time to Jetty from Kota Kinabalu :
8hrs (by car), or 10hrs (by bus) with average one way bus fare of ~RM80

Price reference based on 4D3N diving packages

  • Mabul Island, Semporna, Sabah

    Borneo Divers Mabul Resort

    Packages from RM2,940

    Founded in 1984, Borneo Divers is the pioneer of Sipadan and the first PADI 5 Star Resort in Mabul Island. Your best choice for dive travelers who seeks the best Sabah has to offer.

  • Kapalai Island, Semporna, Sabah

    Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort

    Packages from RM4,181

    Exquisite water chalets on stilts above the shallow sandbanks of Ligitan Reef that spans almost a mile long stretching into the horizon offering the purest image of natural serenity.

  • Bum Bum Island, Semporna, Sabah

    ND Divers

    Packages from RM1,450

    Dive with the locals, that is their motto. A simple homestay styled dive center with its private house reef offering the best local experience around Semporna.

  • Mabul Island, Semporna, Sabah

    Seaventures Dive Rig

    Packages from RM3,600

    Looking for something unique? Seaventures is the world’s first oil rig module converted into a dive resort with a PADI 5 Star accreditation to its name with outstanding service and dive quality. Sipadan permits can be guaranteed with minimum stays of 3 nights.

  • If you are looking to travel to Semporna, you are inevitably looking for a weather forecast. So here’s a forecast for the next 7 days. Although weather forecasts are not always accurate with ever-changing weather patterns, it does provide a good guess on what’s to come. Every little bit helps! 😀



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