Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Semporna and Sipadan Island.
An alternative to long bus rides, the Tawau International Airport (TWU) is about 80 kilometres from Semporna and has frequent flights to Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. Fares with AirAsia and MASwings aren't that much more than a bus ticket and can save a lot of time. MASwings flies to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tarkan (Indonesia), Malaysia Airlines flies to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur and AirAsia flies to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
The cheapest way to get to Tawau Aiport from Semporna is by the shared minivans that leave from the parking lot beside the KFC. The fare is just 15 ringgit, but you'll have to wait until they have enough passengers which can take up to an hour.
Alternatively, the Holiday Dive Inn operates a shuttle bus from Semporna to Tawau Airport for 30 ringgit per person and it takes just over one hour. Enquire at the reception desk for the schedule.
A taxi from Semporna to Tawau Airport will set you back 80-100 ringgit, depending whether you book it through your hotel or negotiate directly with the driver.
Long-distance buses (to Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu) arrive and depart from a bus stand in the town centre near Millimewa Supermarket. Ignore the touts who'll say you need a taxi to get to the dive centres â€“ head toward the mosque then veer right when you see the seafront market.
Buses bound for Kota Kinabalu leave at 07:30, 08:00 and 19:30, taking about 10 hours and costing 75 ringgit. They also stop in Sandakan along the way (5-6 hours, 40 ringgit).
Dyana Express Semporna: (89) 784 494
Manis Express Semporna: (89) 784 900
Boats to Mabul Island depart from the Semporna Jetty and take about 20 minutes. There is no public boat -- all boats are organised by the dive shops and resorts. The fare is 50 ringgit one-way plus a 10 ringgit jetty fee, but will be waived if you commit to diving or snorkelling with them. Departures are generally at 08:00 and 16:00.