Liveaboard Diving in Semporna

What to Expect on a Semporna Liveaboard

Liveaboard diving from Semporna, Borneo, will take divers to the world-famous dive areas of Sipadan, Kapalai & Mabul. Semporna is located on the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysia, on the world's third-largest island, Borneo. Resting on the tip of the Semporna Peninsula in the Celebes Sea, Semporna is known for the Regatta Lepa traditional boat races held annually in April. Still, mostly, visitors to Semporna depart for some world-class scuba diving.

The islands off of the small seaside town of Semporna are famous for their white sandy beaches and lush tropical vegetation. Reef sharks patrol the lush coral walls. Dozens of turtles graze among the sweeping seascapes. Giant whirling schools of barracuda can be spotted throughout the waters.

Semporna is located just a few degrees above the equator. Most liveaboard dives in this region are between 20-40 meters, and waters are some of the warmest on Earth, ranging between 24-34 degrees Celsius. Sunshine is forecasted for most days, with a bit of rain at night and humid with light winds year-round.

Liveaboard Diving from Semporna

Semporna is just a short distance from many of the world's most pristine ecosystems, making it a perfect launch point for divers looking to maximize their holiday underwater time. Legendary diving in Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai is within a short trip.

Acclaimed by Jacques Cousteau as "an untouched piece of art," Sipadan diving has become so popular since the 1990s that Malaysian officials allow only 120 permits per day - but for a good reason. The pristine ecosystem teems with turtles, eels, sharks, barracuda, huge schools of tropical fish, shrimp, lobsters, frogfish, nudibranchs, and otherwise unparalleled marine diversity worth protecting for future generations.

Mabul and Kapalai have also become dive destinations in their own right in recent years as divers explore and experience muck diving, artificial reefs, an oil rig, small, sunken shipwrecks, and overhangs.

More than 3000 species living in the waters off Semporna, Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai coasts mean that even experienced divers will check critters off the scuba bucket list.

Getting to Semporna

Book a flight to Tawau from either Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur to arrive at your liveaboard cruise on the Celebes Explorer. Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia offer daily flights from Kuala Lumpur. Arrive at Tawau Airport, meet fellow divers, and be transferred by van or bus (1 hour) to Semporna. You will embark on your Malaysian liveaboard adventure from Semporna to Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai Islands.

Guests staying longer in Semporna may choose from about a dozen hotels around town ranging from 10 to 80RM (3-20USD) per night. Scuba Junkie Bar & Restaurant is an excellent place to meet other divers and is known for offering the best Western food in Borneo. Still, there are several other local seafood restaurants in town. Getting around by taxi is common, although because of its size, Semporna is primarily a walking town.