Tawau airport is the nearest airport to Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai.
Most visitors fly to Tawau airport or come by bus, minivan or taxi from Sabah's northern towns of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sukau and Lahad Datu.
There are frequent flights (relatively inexpensive) from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau (2.45 hrs) and from Kota Kinabalu (50 minutes).
In order to be able to transfer on the same day to the island, please make sure your flight lands latest 14.00pm.
Tawau arrival flights:
- Malaysia Airlines, 07.30-08.15 from KK (MH2121)
- Air Asia, 07.00-09.50 from KL (AK5744)
- Air Asia, 07.20-08.10 from KK (AK6122)
- Malaysia Airlines, 07.45-09.35 from KK (MH3093)
- Malaysia Airlines, 10.45-11.45 from KK (MH3051)
- Malaysia Airlines, 11.40-14.30 from KK (MH2664)
From Semporna, you will continue on the same day by boat (check the boat schedules) to your accommodation on Mabul island (45-60 minutes).
Tawau departure flights:
- Malaysia Airlines, 09.55-11.45 Tawau to KK (MH3092)
- Air Asia, 10.15-13.00 Tawau to KL (AK5745)
- Malaysia Airlines, 14.20-15.20 Tawau to KK (MH3052)
- Malaysia Airlines, 15.40-16.30 Tawau to KK (MH2134)
- Malaysia Airlines, 15.15-17.5 Tawau to KL (MH2665)
- Air Asia, 17.00-17.50 Tawau to KK (AK6127)
- Malaysia Airlines, 17.10-19.05 Tawau to KK (MH3094)
- Malaysia Airlines, 17.55-18.55 Tawau to KK (MH3054)
- Air Asia, 19.00-21.45 Tawau to KL (AK5741)
- Malaysia Airlines, 20.55-21.55 Tawau to KK (MH3056)
- Air Asia, 21.45-22.35 Tawau to KK (AK6129)
- Air Asia, 21.10-23.55 Tawau to KL (AK5743)
In an effort to preserve the island, there is a permit system limiting the maximum numbers of divers to 120 per day.
Since january 1st 2005, and in order to protect the island environment there are no resorts on Sipadan (all moved to Mabul and Kapalai).
Sipadan island is open for divers and visitors from 6am to 4pm.