This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Semporna. To help you make friends with Semporna before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Semporna is a small fishing town in Sabah, one of the Malay eastern states. The town is really small but its location makes it one of the best places to depart for diving trips in the natural beauty of Pulau Sipadan -– Sipadan Island -– just thirty kilometers south in the Celebes Sea. Here the diving is tip-top -- world-class diving with turtles, sharks, barracudas, amazing corals, and tropical fish.
This ecosystem is very important and that is why since 2005 it has been forbidden for anyone to stay in Pulau Sipadan –- the large number of tourists and fishermen was threatening to irreparably damage the coral. This is why Semporna is so important, as it is one of the best places to stay, very well prepared for backpackers. As there is a limit of just more than one hundred people per day in Sipadan, it is hard to get a permit to go diving; if you cannot get the permit right away (in some parts of the year it can take weeks), there are still some really good spots for diving in the neighbouring islands Mabul and Kapalai.
The best way to arrive in Semporna is by bus; it usually stops near the town, about thirty minutes walking from the center.
There are a few hostels in Semporna, all with nice dorms and friendly staff. Semporna's hostels are the best way to get the best deals for diving in Pula Sipadan -– they can get the permits more easily and create packages including accommodation, food, and diving. Also, the hostels in Semporna are the best place to meet other travelers that share the same tastes in diving and nature, making it an excellent place to share experiences.
Written by local enthusiast for Semporna hostelsCoffeeMarks