Semporna is a city on east coast of Sabah. It has a population of around 135,000. While there is not much to see and do in Semporna itself, it is frequently used as a stepping stone for diving and snorkeling trips to the nearby islands of Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and others.
Most travellers take a flight to Tawau, then travel overland from there by bus (Tawau airport to Tawau town at RM 10, then Tawau town to Semporna) or taxi (Tawau airport to Semporna town at RM 95). It is also possible to arrive in Tawau by 8-hour coach ride from Kota Kinabalu. Most coaches depart in the morning around 7:30am and in the evening around 8:00pm, with one or two mid-day services from the long-distance bus station just outside of town.
Because of its small size, Semporna is easily explored on foot. However, there are also mini buses and taxis for getting around.
The houses on stilts by the jetty.
The nearby island of Sipadan offers some of the world's best scuba diving opportunities with large pelagics including sharks, rays and sea turtles. Many visitors to Semporna join a scuba diving trip to Sipadan. The usual charge is RM 260 for a 3-dive trip, plus RM 40 for equipment rental (if needed) and RM 40 marine park fee. Snorkelers pay about RM 120, plus RM 15 for equipment rental. The boat ride from Semporna to Sipadan takes about an hour.
Other nearby islands include Mabul and Kapalai, which are also popular destinations for both scuba divers and snorkelers. Day trips to both of these, as well as other islands nearby, are available from most of the half dozen or so dive operators in Semporna.
Moon stones and pearls are sold, often on the jetty by the Dragon Inn hotel. Bargain hard to get a good price. Moon stone pendants (without necklace) should go for about RM 4-5.
Chicken rice and roasted fish are the dishes found in almost every restaurant here.
The restaurant at the beginning of the causeway serves big mugs of fresh fruit juices (mango, honeydew, lychee and others) for RM 5.
Hotels in Semporna right at the Seafront:
Hotels in the town of Semporna:
Take a taxi to Tawau airport.