ALL THE BASICS YOU NEED : TRAVEL, WEATHER, DIVING CONDITIONS & MORE ...
To help you plan your trip, we've prepared a list of basic information you'll want to know before you book. Once your trip has been reserved, you'll receive pre-departure information with all the details you need for your adventure.
GETTING TO SIPADAN, MABUL, KAPALAI
Take your international flights to Kota Kinabalu (BKI) or Kuala Lumpur (KUL). Direct flights are available as well as short hops from many of the major Asian hubs. Once in Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur, you will take a direct flight to Tawau (TWU) where you will transfer to Semporna by bus. From there, it depends on whether you are going to a resort or joining the Celebes Explorer liveaboard. We'll give you details at time of booking.
According to Malaysia's Immigrations Department, visitors will need a valid passport (valid at least 6 months after departure date), a visa (if necessary for your nationality) a valid return travel ticket, sufficent funds and completion of the arrival/departure card.
Foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia must apply and obtain it before entering the country. Check the Malaysia government site to verify if you need a visa.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE ?
The climate is tropical – generally hot and sunny year-round with scattered, unpredictable rains. The monsoon season is technically from November to March but there is really not much difference in seasons throughout the year ... so, it's generally considered a year-round destination.
WHAT ABOUT WATER TEMPERATURES ?
April through October may be the best times to dive Sipadan, as the rainy season is November through March. The water temperature ranges from 79-86 all year. A 3mm full suit is generally recommended if you'll be doing a lot of dives.
There are some sensational drift dives in strong currents ... with lots of fish action ... and some easy dives, too. Visibility usually ranges from 60-100 feet (except when muck diving). If it rains while you're there, that will, naturally, affect the viz and water condition.
ACCESS TO SIPADAN ISLAND FROM RESORTS
In an effort to protect Sipadan Island and its marine life, the Malaysian government has established a quoto for Sipadan's daily entry permit. A maximum of 120 people are allowed each day.
Celebes Explorer has a permanent permit but if you're staying at a resort, we recommend staying at least 3 days to better ensure the possibility of accessing diving at Sipadan.
There are numerous dive operators and resorts in the Sipadan area, many offering all-inclusive packages. The boat journey to Sipadan normally takes 20 to 30 minutes from the neighboring islands, and operators generally offer up to four dives in a day. When diving at Sipadan is not possible, the house reefs and sandbanks of Mabul and Kapalai offer some fantastic muck diving.
Technically, once you have your open water certification, you are allowed to dive Sipadan. It's good to note, however, that some dives are drift dives with relatively strong currents and the reef drops off into very deep water ... so, note all the dives are appropriate for inexperienced divers. The dive masters are experienced with these dives and will guide you to make the right decisions.
BEST TIME TO GO
Diving in Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai is known for being pretty good all year although from April to October the waters are typically calm & warm with excellent visibility. The rainy season runs from November to March and you can expect windy periods in January, February and August which will affect sea conditions..
FLYING AFTER DIVING
Current studies show that you should wait at least 24 hours after multiple days with repetitive diving before flying. Please keep this in mind before you book your onward international or domestic flights.
Local currency is the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR).
DO I NEED INSURANCE?
Travel insurance : We strongly advise our guests to obtain comprehensive travel insurance to cover against unforeseeable events including personal & business impediments, illness, travel delays and missed flight connections. We can recommend excellent and inexpensive insurance options which will cover virtually every scenario.
Please don't allow yourself to be one of the unfortunate travelers who are without coverage for unexpected circumstances. Insurance is a small slice of the pie in terms of overall travel costs and can save you from serious financial losses.
Dive insurance : Dive insurance is required by the liveaboards. Do not confuse regular travel medical and/or travel insurance with diving-specific insurance such as DAN (Divers Alert Network) or Dive Assure. This type of insurance will cover all of your scuba diving and snorkeling activities, including the costs for recompression chamber treatment and emergency air evacuation. These are not covered by the average travel insurance.
Dive Assure can also set you up with a travel insurance plan which includes general travel insurance, including trip cancellation .... plus full dive coverage.