A Simple drawing of the island where I worked some time in 2009 - 2010...

As there are no more resorts on Sipadan Island, Mabul has become the main island, at which people stay. It's a mere 50 minute boat ride away from the mainland, Semporna which one would have to reach via the Tawau Airport (50 Minute taxi ride from the airport).

Boat rides from Mabul - Sipadan (South of Mabul) take only 20 minutes and to the neighboring Kapalai Island (East of Mabul) takes only 15 minutes...

Again I've chosen an island with no roads, motorbikes or cars to live on...love the simplicity of life here...This island is small enough for one to walk a full circle within 30 minutes.

Basically, there are 2 kinds of accommodation you can find here - The luxury resorts and the village "Homestays".

Homestays are basically local village houses that have be renovated to cater to travellers at a very affordable price - usually less than US$25 per night/pax - this includes all meals.

(From as low as RM70 per night - including ALL meals)

Uncle Chang (Sipadan Permits)
Sphere Divers (No Sipadan Permits)
Big John Scuba (No Sipadan Permits)
Jeff Scuba (No Sipadan Permits)
Billabong (Sipadan Permits)
Arung Hayat (No Sipadan Permits)
Sipadan DOT com (No Sipadan Permits)
Summer Friends Homestay (Sipadan Permits)

Sipadan Dive Centre (Under Construction)
Borneo Divers (Sipadan Permits)
Scuba Junkie (Sipadan Permits)
Sipadan Water Village (Sipadan Permits)
Water Bungalow (Sipadan Permits)
SMART (Sipadan Permits)
Sea Ventures (Sipadan Permits)


Sipadan Scuba (Sipadan Permits)
Blue Sea Divers (No Sipadan Permits)
Borneo Global Sipadan Backpackers Lodge (Sipadan Permits)
Scuba Junkie (Sipadan Permits)
Perfect Diver, Semporna (No Sipadan Permits) +6089 780577


Celebes Beach Resort, Pom Pom Island
Pom Pom Island Resort
Mataking Island


Control of people getting into Sipadan is capped at 120 people per day. This includes picnickers and snorkelers so in order to ensure you make the list, you best book yourself a permit/pass in advance.

The permit allocation is already distributed to selected resorts and homestays and each of them have a given allocation of permits. For example if "Resort A" has an allocation of 11 permits daily, the dive shop has to coordinate the flow of divers into Sipadan daily.

If "Resort A" has a big group of 20 divers, they would most probably break the group up and send 10 per day x 2 days.

Upon reaching Sipadan, the boat will stop at a check-point. All passengers will alight and present themselves at the counter. The official on duty will check his daily list of 120 names...and if your name is not listed, you go home.

There is a cost for the Sipadan permits and some resorts have already costed it into your dive-reservation package. Others however cannot assure you of how many entries they can grant you at the time of your reservation and will simply charge you RM40 for each time they can put your name onto their list.

Operators who do not posses their own permits, would opt to purchase permits from their neighbors but this comes at a premium price. A day's permit can cost you as high as RM600 per day.

On comparison, staying at an expensive resort for RM500 per night (luxurious) + RM40 per day to Sipadan VS paying RM70 per night for a basic room + RM600 to dive at Sipadan for a day...this is the decision to make.

(Post written 23 DEC 2009)