Liveaboard Diving in Kapalai


A liveaboard to Kapalai will treat divers to some of the best 'muck diving' in Borneo. Remotely situated a few hours from the eastern shore of Borneo in Southeast Asia, the best way to access Kapalai is by Malaysian liveaboard. Many divers come to this area of Malaysia expecting Sipadan to steal the show, but liveaboards to Malaysia allow divers to experience so much more — many who rank the diving at Kapalai among their favorites of the whole trip.

Kapalai was once a beautiful island just two hundred years ago, but natural erosion has reduced the island to sea level, and the only buildings now rest on stilts. Kapalai is now known for it's amazing scuba diving offering 'critter' hunters a chance to tick the weird and wonderful off their lists.


Liveaboard diving in Kapalai is an exceedingly easy and relaxing experience. Several great dive sites in Kapalai are in close proximity to each other; from small walls, shallow reefs and sandy flats with rocky outcroppings. The warm, shallow waters are teeming with life. Home to the techno-colored flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish of all shapes and sizes, and hundreds of species yet to even be named, diving in Kapalai is an unforgettable experience.


Cleaning Station, like most dives in Kapalai is nice and easy for divers of all experience levels. Descend 5 meters to the top of the reef before following a gradual coral slope. Enjoy the mild currents and easy drift diving at 16 meters as you spot colorful nudibranchs as well as turtles hanging around an old wooden boat wreck. The calming pace of this dive is sure to keep you breathing easy and ticking unusual creatures off of your wish list.

Gunard Point Two dives in one! Roll off your liveaboard dive boat and explore both a lively reef wall and a sandy rubble bottom. Hundreds of mantis shrimp, garden eels and pipefish call this sandy area home. Watch the symbiosis between shrimp and gobies. You could spend the entire dive watching the activities of the sand, but you’ll surely want to catch the colorful nudibranchs and several endemic species hanging out on the reefs. Be still and spot watchful moray eels sneak from their burrows and watch graceful rays float by to rest gently rest on the sandy plateau.

Lobster Rock Cruise along a colorful landscape of soft and hard corals and check your skills finding camouflaged nudibranchs and pipefish. This dive may be named for them commonly spotted lobsters that hang about the reefs, particularly at night, but a diver would be forgiven for remembering it as a turtle dive. Almost nowhere else on earth are turtles as abundant as they are in this part of Malaysia with 4 or more typically spotted on each dive.

Mandarin Valley Descend down a coral slope to a small fishing boat wreck at 18 meters. Ghost pipefish, crocodile fish and long nose hawkfish will be hanging about. Glide over the beautiful corals and sponges and you may find a vibrant mandarin fish swimming about with an endless list of other small critters. Large sharks and crayfish make this dive great day or night.

Spotted Ray Channel As with other dives in Kapalai, a nice relaxing, relatively shallow dive awaits at Spotted Ray Channel in bath-warm water. Cruise along a sandy bottom channel with vibrant reefs to your side. Behind every crevice is another creature waiting to be discovered. Stories of tropical octopus, dragonfish or pegasus sighting ofter create quite a stir back on the liveaboard deck.


Diving in Kapalai is great all year round, but the best time to visit is March through October as the rainy season will have passed and visibility is best. However, with the small joys hiding all over the region, even in low visibility there is still much to see. Water temperatures range from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius.


The closest airport to Kapalai is Tawau Airport. Direct flights to Tawau are available from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and also Singapore. Tawau is approximately a one hour drive to Semporna. Your Malaysian liveaboard operator will usually arrange transportation round trip from the airport, please check when booking.