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Best of Malaysia – Sipadan + Kinabatangan River Safari: September 29-October 12, 2023


Is this trip to Sipadan, Borneo, or Malaysia?  Yes, Sipadan is an island off of Borneo, which is a huge island, home to part of Malaysia and Indonesia, and the postage stamp country of Brunei, and we’ll explore the most exciting parts of Malaysia.  This trip is in 3 parts; Sipadan via Celebes Explorer 9 (divers only) Sep 29-Oct 3, Mabul Water Bungalow Resort Oct 3-8, and the Kinabatangan River Safari Oct 8-12.  Read the details below.

Sipadan is home to the best diving in Borneo, and second to none in the info-Pacific region.  Famous for massive schools of fish, spiraling barracudas, massive green turtles and schooling reef sharks, diving in the pumping current here is spectacular.  Jacques Cousteau said: “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more” when he was mesmerized by this place.

Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai Islands

Sipadan Island is part of the Sipadan Island Marine Sanctuary which spans some 0.12 square kilometers (0.05 square miles). This island is rich in oceanic pelagic life and you are likely to see a plethora of underwater creatures such as barracudas, trevallies, reef sharks, Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles. There are also hundreds of reef pelagic species. The island is regularly voted one of the ‘Top 10 Dive Spots’ in the world and it is known for its crystal clear waters and serene atmosphere. With that in mind, visitors are limited to 120 divers per day and there is no accommodation here so you will need to stay on neighboring Semporna or Mabul islands.

If you stay on the nearby islands you can do many dives around Mabul and Kapalai everyday and go to Sipadan for one full day, 2 days if you are very lucky. The diving around Mabul and Kapalai islands are excellent, very different from Sipadan, but also world class diving.

Sipadan permit system

Sipadan is a marine protected area, and entry to the island is limited to 176 visitors per day. In order to visit the island you need a Sipadan permit acquired from Sabah Parks. The daily limit prevents excess stress on the reefs and the marine life, caused by too many divers and tourists.

With Sipadan being one of the best dive spots in the world, and there being limited available spaces each day it is important that you plan your trip early enough to secure a permit! For many divers, a holiday to Borneo is a once in a lifetime trip, and the last thing you would want is to finally turn up on site, only to find out there are no Sipadan permits available.

Celebes Explorer 9 – Sipadan Liveaboard

The MV Celebes Explorer is the only liveaboard bringing scuba divers to Sipadan.  Divers are brought to Sipadan (guaranteed) along with Mabul and Kapalai islands.  The dive cruise ship is comfortable and can accommodate up to 16 guests at a time.


The middle deck has a camera charging station, a spacious air-conditioned dining room serving delicious buffet meals, and a comfy lounge with a mini bar, TV. and internet access. The sundeck on the top is perfect for relaxing with fellow divers and catching a few rays. The lower dive deck has a changing and shower area, filling station, dive gear storage, and nitrox is available.


Divers have a choice between 6 standard cabins with triple bunk beds or 2 Queen cabins with double beds.  Every cosy cabin has air conditioning, private ensuite with hot showers and a dressing table.  You can request a single cabin rate.

MV Celebes Explorer Dive Package – 5D/4N (Sep 29-Oct 3) Includes:
  • Twin Share Accommodation in a private ensuite and air-conditioning cabin.  You can request a single cabin rate.
  • Land transfers between Tawau airport and the Liveaboard – meet at CE9 office in Semporna at 3:00pm, boat transfer will depart from Semporna to CE9 at 3:30pm.
  • 3 to 4 boat dives daily mostly around Sipadan – no dives on day of embarkation & disembarkation.
  • Use of tanks with 12 litre normal air fill, weight & weight belt.
  • Use of Dive equipment (shorties, BCD, Regulator, full foot fins, mask and snorkel) excluding dive computer and torch light.**
  • All meals (Asian & local buffet meals) and beverages (excluding alcoholic and canned/bottled drinks, which could be purchased on board).
  • Sipadan permit fee and Semporna jetty fee.

** Guests are encouraged to bring their own dive equipment due to the current pandemic situation.

Mabul Water Bungalow Resort

Mabul Water Bungalow is a 4-Star floating dive-resort, situated at Mabul Island overlooking the world-renowned Sipadan Island which is 15-minutes away by speedboat.

These wooden-type bungalows has twenty four (24) unit entirely built over water with stilts offering sheer comfort.  Each bungalow exquisitely furnished with contemporary decor, equipped with remote control air-conditioner, ceiling fan, private bathroom-hot/cold shower and toilet, spacious private balcony offer panoramic vistas of blue sea, color TV with satellite channels, mini bar, in-room safety box and free wireless internet access.


The Ka’Andaman Spa offers a range of rejuvenating treatments and massages.


The Mabul Water Bungalows’ dive centre arranges 3 guided boat dives per day (at Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai) along with scuba dive courses at various levels from PADI Open-Water to Dive-Master, including technical diving, nitrox diving and cave diving at the famous Sipadan’s Turtle Tomb.


The restaurant is located in an airy dining pavilion and features the chef’s excellent cuisine.


Guests can access the beach, swimming pool and jacuzzi of nearby sister resort:  Sipadan-Mabul Resort.

Mabul Water Bungalow Resort Dive Package – 6D/5N (Oct 3-8) Includes:
  • Transfer between: Tawau Airport – Semporna Jetty – Mabul Water Bungalows – Tawau Airport by van and speedboat.
  •  3 boat dives per day with divemaster on Mabul, Kapalai or nearby Island (except on arrival and departure day).
  • Unlimited jetty diving from Mabul’s House Reef with buddy.
  • Bungalow type accommodation on twin-sharing basis with attached bathroom and the facilities of hot shower and the comfort of air-conditioning.
  • All food and hot beverage while at the resort (excluding alcoholic, fruit juice and carbonated soft drinks).
  • Use of tanks with air, weights and weight belt.

Kinabatangan River Safari


MOST POPULAR TOUR! This 4D/3N tour allows you to double your chances of wildlife encounters by travelling on the Kinabatangan River by boat. Truly the best wildlife experience in Kinabatangan you can get.

Our tour will start after an additional night at the MY Nature Resort.  This additional night is to accommodate our 4.5 hour transfer from Semporna, after Mabul Water Bungalows, that disembarks at 10 am.

Tour Highlights
    • Learn and observe the endangered Orangutans at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
    • Get a glimpse and learn about the smallest bear in the world at Borneo Sunbear Conservations Centre
    • Explore the delights of Borneo’s tropical rainforests at Rainforest Discovery Centre
    • Learn about the Prisoners of War during World War II at Sandakan Memorial Park
Kinabatangan River Safari Package – 5D/4N (Oct 8-12) Includes:

* Tours and transfers based on Sharing (SIC) Basis / Joining with other people (NOT PRIVATE Tour)
* 01 night stay at the MY Nature Resort
* 02 nights stay at the Abai Jungle Lodge (non-air conditioned room)
* 01 night stay at the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge (non-air conditioned room)
* Meals as stated: (B: Breakfast, L : Lunch, D: Dinner)
* English speaking guide

Package Excludes:

* Alcoholic beverages, juices and carbonated drinks
* All air tickets
* Misc. fees (camera and video camera)
* Optional activities
* Upgrade of rooms
* Item not stated in the itinerary

Complete Package Does Not Include:
  • International Flights Denver (DEN) to Kuala Lampur (KUL), Tawau (TWU), return Sandakan (SKD)
  • Anything that was not mentioned as included (rooms, meals, etc.)
  • Equipment Rentals
  • Crew gratuities
  • Scuba Training
Complete Package Pricing – starting at $4347.

Prices are per person in USD, based on double occupancy.  This trip is restricted to 10 divers, mainly for limited Sipadan permits – this number governs the entire trip.  Anyone that requests to join this trip will join the entire trip – this is a group trip that is packaged for the most diverse experience.  You may request a single occupancy rate, as long as there is someone else that agrees that they also prefer single occupancy.


Deposit:  $1000 to reserve your space (Deposit is non-refundable)

Second Payment:  $1500 is due on December 5, 2022

Final Payment:  Balance is due on August 10, 2023

Passport requirement – must have 6 months remaining until expiration date upon return to USA.

For all dive trips, consider purchasing travel insurance, and dive accident insurance.  Both are highly recommended, and are made available to purchase!

To purchase DAN dive accident insurance, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the DAN banner link, Join DAN Today!, then follow the prompts on DAN’s website.

To purchase travel insurance, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the DAN banner link, Purchase Travel Insurance?, then follow the prompts on DAN’s website.


Some sunscreen ingredients are not safe for corals; these include oxybenzone. Research indicates that these chemicals can cause DNA damage to corals, promote viruses in corals, and contribute to the bleaching of corals. So that we can help protect our reefs, we encourage our guests to choose and use a sunscreen that is “coral safe”.

To purchase eco-friendly sunscreen products, please scroll to the bottom of this page, and click on the Stream2Sea banner link, use code, “cleanreef” for a 10% discount.


Price is per person and based on double occupancy and items specified. Space is subject to availability, price subject to change without notice and not guaranteed until deposit is received. Cost for airfare cannot be guaranteed until paid and ticketed. Some restrictions may apply.

* Credit card or any payments made through the PayPal invoice will be charged an additional 3.5% (5% international payers). This fee covers the cost of the PayPal fee. Venmo, Zelle, Send Money to Friends and Family, and checks are always welcome.

If interested, please contact Andy Skuntz, at Colorado Dive + Travel Adventures, email to, or call at 719-322-6941. This exciting trip will fill up fast.

Trip flyer, terms and conditions, and a trip application will be provided. Once the application is complete, please return to Andy via fax or email, then an invoice for the designated deposit will be provided.


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