Most travellers come to Semporna and Sipadan Island for diving and snorkelling, and while there is no accommodation on Sipadan, nearby Mabul Island is a short boat ride away. Due to security reasons – there has been some terrorist activity in the area – many travellers prefer to base themselves in Semporna town. Semporna is also the gateway to Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Pom Pom and Mataking Islands, which are less accessible from Mabul. Wherever you decide to stay, check on the current security risks ahead of your trip.
We have 16 places to stay in and around Semporna and Sipadan Island.
Semporna is divided into the old town area near the bus station and, five minutes’ away, the new township near the seafront. Accommodation in the old town is cheaper, but more basic, and by the sea there are many more choices. Here along with comfort, several offer views, even from a dorm bed. The number of new hotels and construction sites is phenomenal, with many aiming for the lucrative Chinese market; you’ll notice much of the signage in Mandarin. Accommodation is in high demand, and it’s wise to book ahead of time if you can.
Mabul’s proximity to Sipadan has resulted in this tiny island being crammed full of dive resorts, cheek by jowl with local Malay and Bajau stilt villages. Mabul itself is well known for muck diving, but unfortunately is no paradise, and has a huge rubbish problem (not the kind of muck diving we enjoy). Swanky resorts tend to be on the northern side of the island where there’s a patch of sandy beach, and simple homestays clustered within the village. Almost all accommodation includes meals, and several are inclusive of diving and snorkelling. Packages are charged on a per person rate, and often divers and non-divers are charged at different rates.