Kapalai Island's Scuba Diving

Kapalai is a unique island, or a sand bank, to be more precise (a place, where the depth is smaller than on the rest sea territory). It is located on the east of Malaysia in the Sulawesi Sea, which gives the place a peculiar charm. Earlier, the island was used as the source of sand till its quantity reduced remarkably, though it didn't stop Kapalai from becoming one of the most famous sea resorts.
Unforgettable underwater sceneries attract divers and that there are no dangerous marine creatures (such as sharks and rays). There are many unusual microscopic creatures and coral gardens, which can inspire many beautiful photographs. You can dive directly from the chalets standing on wooden piles. Small depth makes the island a paradise for snorkelers and beginner scuba divers.

Getting There

The nearest to Kapalai airport is in Tawau, which operates local flights from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. When you get to Tawau, take a bus to Semporna port. There you can sail a speedboat which floats to the only hotel on the island three times a day. The journey will take 45 minutes.


Kapalai suits for diving all year round, but the best conditions are from April to October. Underwater currents here are weak or nearly absent. The water temperature is +27-29 °С all year round. Due to the strong winter monsoons from January to March, the weather is unstable, but you will find the opportunity for diving.

Dive Spots near Kapalai Island

You can dive directly from the pier on the House Reef. 5 small vessels have sunken here. They are full with microscopical creatures: from Reef stonefish to nudibranchs.
Mandarin Valley is the most exciting dive site in Kapalai. Swimming slowly along the reef, you will see harlequin wrasses, smooth lumpfish, and other small creatures. During the day, mandarin-fish are hiding under the spines of sea urchins, and during the night they dance their mate dance.