|Sipadan Island is located in the Celebes Sea, off the coast of Borneo. It is in Malaysia’s most eastern state, Sabah. Sipadan can be reached in little over half an hour by boat from the closest town on the mainland, Semporna, or in less time from the neighbouring islands of Mabul and Kapalai.
Visitors to Sipadan (divers and non-divers) need to have a permit (RM 40 per person per day) and only licensed diving operators are allowed in the area. Your diving operator or resort can arrange these permits as well as boat diving trips to the island.
Dive boats depart from resorts located on the nearby islands of Mabul (20 minutes away) and Kapalai (15 minutes away). Resorts on Mataking and Pompong Island (1-2 hours away, depending on conditions) also arrange diving trips to Sipadan and there are some hostels and diving operators in the town of Semporna (30 minutes away) on Malaysian Borneo. (There are no accommodation facilities on Sipadan Island).
Speedboats to Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking and Pompong all depart from Semporna. Trips there and back are arranged by the resorts and take about 20-30 minutes one way.
The closest airport to Semporna is in Tawau, approximately 1 hour away. Your resort can arrange for transport (usually by air-conditioned minivan) from the airport to Semporna.
As there are no boats to the islands after nightfall, you may need to overnight in Semporna after flying in to Tawau. The Seafest Hotel and the Dragon Inn are popular choices as they are within metres of the Speedboat departure point.
Air Asia has several flights daily to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines has daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan and several flights daily from Kota Kinabalu. From any international destination, book your return flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, from where you can get the abovementioned connecting flights to Tawau.