Situated at the northern tip of Borneo is the Malaysian state of Sabah, home to some of South East Asia’s most exciting diving experiences as well as incredible opportunities to explore ancient rainforests. With its easy access and well-established tourism industry, Sabah easily ranks as one of Asia’s top tourist destinations.

SABAH HIGHLIGHTS
  • Visit the world renowned island of Sipadan - home to schooling barracuda and jackfish, turtles, sharks and bumphead parrotfish
  • Swim with whale sharks during the season around the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
  • Hunt for unusual ‘muck’ critters hidden amongst the reefs of Mabul and Kapalai on Sabah’s east coast
  • Dive with schooling hammerhead sharks, rays and other pelagics on the remote atoll of Layang Layang
  • Trek in ancient rainforests in search of orangutans, stunning birds and pygmy elephants

SABAH DESTINATIONS

MABUL & KAPALAI

Sabah

Best time to visit: Year round

  • Incredible 'muck' diving with plenty of critters
  • Perfect base to explore Sipadan
  • Year round diving
  • Great for beginners as well as more experienced divers
Explore Mabul & Kapalai

SIPADAN

Sabah

Best time to visit: Year round

  • Meet Sipadan's famous turtles on every dive
  • Encounter huge schools of fish - including the famous barracuda tornado
  • Search for sharks and rays
Explore Sipadan
About Sabah

Sabah lies deep within the Coral Triangle and as such, it’s seas are host to a fabulously rich assortment of marine life - from healthy coral reefs and amazing macro critters to schooling barracudas, pelagics and of course, the famous turtles. In fact, Sabah’s marine environments are amongst the richest on the planet. The state’s forests and mountains - including the famous Gunung Kinabalu, Danum Valley and Maliau Basin - are equally diverse and are home to a extraordinary collection of plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.

Sabah’s amazing natural heritage makes for some unique adventure opportunities - visitors can dive with sharks, turtles and schooling fish one day, then head to the jungle to search for orangutans, pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys the next.

Diving in Sabah

Just a few kilometres from Kota Kinabalu - Sabah’s gateway city - is the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a collection of picture perfect tropical islands lined by white sand beaches and shallow reefs. The park is a great place to do a dive course or brush up on your skills before heading off to some of Sabah’s more demanding dive destinations, and between February and April, whale sharks regularly pass through the area - time your visit and you might be lucky enough to see one of these giants of the sea on your very first open water dive!

The real draw on Sabah’s west coast lies a lot further offshore - 300km away to be precise. Here, in the deep waters of the South China Sea, lies the atoll of Layang Layang. This remote reef is a mecca for divers in search of one of the ocean’s more enigmatic predators - scalloped hammerhead sharks. Their regular appearance means that Layang Layang is one of the few places in the world were encounters with hammerheads is almost guaranteed. But even without the sharks, the atoll’s dramatic reefs, schooling fish, manta and devil rays, stunning visibility and dolphin and whale sightings, make it an incredible destination, one that should rank highly on every divers bucket list.

On Sabah’s east coast lie sheltered bays, coral fringed islands and some of Sabah’s best diving destinations. From Sandakan, visitors can head out into the Sulu Sea to peaceful Lankayan Island where they can explore some interesting shallow reefs and wrecks as well as hunt for macro subjects - including an unusual giant jaw fish. Close by are the islands of Selingan, Bakkungan and Gulisan which are part of the Turtle Islands National Park. This area is an important nesting area for hawksbill and green turtles and visitors to Lankayan or the Turtle Islands have a very good chance of seeing turtles nesting on the beaches at night.

South of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and accessible from the local town of Semporna lie Sabah’s most well-known diving destinations - the islands of Mabul, Kapalai and Sipadan. Lying in deeper water off the continental shelf and some 45 minutes by boat from nearby islands, Sipadan is THE place in Sabah to encounter green and hawksbill turtles, swirling tornadoes of barracudas and jackfish, coral-munching bumphead parrotfish, whitetip and grey reef sharks and clouds of colourful reef fish. Throw in the occasional scalloped hammerhead in the deep water off the reef, devil and manta rays, the occasional whale shark or thresher shark and the steep walls festooned with corals, and you have one the best dive destinations in the world.

Lying much closer to the mainland in the shallow waters of the continental shelf is the island of Mabul and the sandbar that is home to Kapalai. These two locations are perfect bases to dive Sipadan, but are also fantastic dive locations in their own right, being home to a wide variety of muck critters and reef species, as well as colourful corals and interesting artificial reef structures.

Getting there

Sabah’s capital city of Kota Kinabalu - known simply as KK - is the main entry point for most visitors and one that is fast becoming an important hub for flights across the region. Guests can fly in directly from Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Taiwan, and from the rest of the world via Kuala Lumpur.

Once in Sabah, guests can fly across to Sandakan or Tawau to visit the islands and nature reserves of the east coast. For those with a little more time, buses run regularly services up and across the Crocker Range and past Mt Kinabalu, then to the east coast. Visitors can also head up to the northern tip of Borneo or to the interior around Tenom and Keningau - the heartland of Sabahan Kadazan-Dusun culture.

Seasons & weather

Sabah is nicknamed the ‘Land Below the Wind’, referring to its location just south of the typhoon belt to the north. Any tropical storms that develop in the Pacific Ocean track towards the Philippines, sparing Sabah the full force of these storms. However, Sabah will sometimes catch the tail end of any bad weather and as such, can get some rough seas and winds in the main typhoon season, particularly in August. The east coast can also experience storms in the middle of the wet season, especially in January.

Sabah has a typical equatorial climate - air temperatures are normally 27-32C, humidity is high and the sea temperatures are 26-29C, with some colder upwellings in deeper water. Sabah doesn’t have a well defined monsoon such as that of South Asia. Instead it typically rains all year round with more rain in the Northeast wet season between November and March, and less in the Southwest ‘dry’ season. On the west coast, the wet season typically starts a little earlier and January and February can already be dry. But be prepared for rain whatever time of year you visit.

Inspirational Resorts - Chosen by ZuBlu
FEATURED RESORT
$ $
Mabul & Kapalai, Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia

Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Scuba Junkie is without doubt the leading sustainable dive company in Malaysia, one that continues to develop and support conservation programmes in Sabah and beyond, whilst at the same time offering an amazing holiday experience. The resort is the perfect base to dive Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai, ge...

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$ $ $
Mabul & Kapalai, Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia

Seaventures Dive Rig

Seaventures Dive Rig is a unique resort, perfectly positioned to explore both Sipadan and the local islands of Mabul and Kapalai and giving you the opportunity to experience the best of Sabah's east coast reefs. The platform might not look your typical dive resort, but its facilities and fantastic s...

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Tailored for you
FEATURED PACKAGES

The 8 day, 7 night package gives you 2 full days diving at Sipadan and to make the most of these days, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort

Ultimate Sipadan

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Make the most of your trip to Sabah and dive Sipadan for 2 full days

Duration
8 Days
7 Nights
Starts At US$1520
Diving
More options
STANDARD PACKAGES

Seaventures Family Room

at Seaventures Dive Rig

Bring your family along to enjoy Sabah's amazing diving and snorkeling

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$920

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum length of stay required to guarantee a diving permit for Sipadan, and is the perfect duration for guests that want a taste of the extraordinary diving Sabah has to offer. Up to four people - 2 adults and 2 children - can stay in Seaventures' family room, with AC, fresh bedding and towels, cleaning service and ensuite bathrooms with hot water.

  • 3 boat dives per day
  • Unlimited diving on house reef beneath the rig, including night dives
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation in family room
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna if traveling alone or outside of scheduled transfer times
  • Equipment rental
  • Single occupancy supplement
  • GST at 6%
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Dive Sipadan on a Budget

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

On a budget but want to dive Sipadan? Come and stay in Scuba Junkie's comfortable dorm rooms

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$715

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum stay required to guarantee a permit to dive Sipadan. To make the most of your day at Sipadan, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. This package includes accomodation in Scuba Junkie's comfortable fan-cooled dorm.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Shared 8-bed dorm room, with ensuite bathrooms
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort


Diving

Snorkel the Celebes Sea

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Snorkel the beautiful reefs of Mabul, Kapalai and beyond

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$270

Snorkel the amazing reefs of Mabul and Kapalai with Scuba Junkie, Malaysia's leading sustainable dive company. This snorkeling package includes two boat trips, unlimited snorkeling around Mabul and well-maintained mask, snorkel and fins. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 2 boat trips to other islands
  • Unlimited snorkelling around Mabul
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort


Snorkeling

Explore Sipadan with the Scuba Junkies - Malaysia's leading sustainable dive company

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$755

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum stay required to guarantee a permit to dive Sipadan. To make the most of your day at Sipadan, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Explore Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai - Malaysia's finest diving

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$865

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum length of stay required to guarantee a diving permit for Sipadan, and is the perfect duration for guests that want a taste of the extraordinary diving Sabah has to offer. Guests can choose from twin or double cabins, all of which are perfect for a relaxing nights sleep after a long day spent diving. All of Seaventures' cabins have AC, fresh bedding and towels, cleaning service and ensuite bathrooms with hot water.

  • 3 boat dives per day
  • Unlimited diving on house reef beneath the rig, including night dives
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation in standard room
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna if traveling alone or outside of scheduled transfer times
  • Equipment rental
  • Single occupancy supplement
  • GST at 6%
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Book 6 days, 5 nights onboard Seaventures Dive Rig and you are guaranteed 2 full days diving at Sipadan

Duration
6 Days
5 Nights
Starts At US$1250

The 6 day, 5 night package offers 2 full days diving at Sipadan, and 3 days exploring the incredible muck diving on offer around Mabul and Kapalai. Guests can choose from twin or double cabins, all of which are perfect for a relaxing nights sleep after a long day spent diving. All of Seaventures' cabins have AC, fresh bedding and towels, cleaning service and ensuite bathrooms with hot water.

  • 3 boat dives per day
  • Unlimited diving on house reef beneath the rig, including night dives
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation in standard room
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna if traveling alone or outside of scheduled transfer times
  • Equipment rental
  • Single occupancy supplement
  • GST at 6%
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving