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Best of Malaysia – Sipadan + Kinabatangan River Safari: September 2023


This trip is being planned in 3 parts; MV Celebes Explorer (guaranteed diving at Sipadan), Mabul Water Bungalow Resort (diving at Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai) + Kinabatangan River Safari, and will be available soon.

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.

MV Celebes Explorer Dive Package – 5D/4N Includes:
  • Land transfers between Tawau airport and the Liveaboard
  • 3 to 4 boat dives daily mostly around Sipadan
  • Tanks, weights and weight belt
  • Standard or Queen cabin based on twin-sharing basis
  • 3 meals a day plus light snacks and beverages (excludes alcohol, juices and soft drinks)

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 Includes:
  • Land and sea transfers between Tawau and Mabul Island
  • 3 guided boat dives daily
  • Unlimited diving at the resort’s house reef
  • Over-the-Water Accommodation
  • All meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Kinabatangan River Safari


MOST POPULAR TOUR!  This 4D3N tour allows you to double your chances of wildlife encounters by travelling to Sukau Rainforest Lodge by boat. Truly the best wildlife experience in Kinabatangan you can get.  Transfers by boat is included, along with a nights stay at our Villas.

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
    • 3 Nights at our new Villa rooms at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.  Travel 2.5 hours by speedboat
    • 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

Tours and transfers, accommodation and meals as specified, and English speaking guide.


Domestic airfare (Kota Kinabalu(BKI) – Sandakan(SDK) – Kota Kinabalu(BKI)), camera fee and items not mentioned, Tourism Tax (TTx) flat rate of RM10 per room per night.

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.)
  • Crew gratuities
Complete Package Pricing – starting at $XXXX.

Prices are per person in USD, based on double occupancy.


Deposit:  $500 to reserve your space (deposit is non-refundable)

Final Payment:  Balance is due on September 25, 2022

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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