Travelling To Semporna Malaysia Guide: How To Get There, Where To Stay, What To Do

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By: agnes
July 12, 2022

Semporna is as its name suggests, which translates to ‘perfect’. Located in Sabah, Semporna is the gateway to 8 beautiful islands and popular dive sites. If you’re craving white beautiful sandy beaches and clear blue waters, then Semporna is a place to visit. But a trip like this takes lots of planning. Fret not though, as we’ve compiled the ultimate travelling to Semporna Malaysia guide. Here, you’ll find how to get there, the best places to stay and all the things you can do!

How To Get To Semporna Malaysia

Step 1: Flight

Source: Unsplash / Ross Parmly

If you’re looking to travelling to Semporna Malaysia, you’ll have to firstly enter Malaysian grounds. You can do so in many ways that also depend on your travel plans before Semporna. Should you plan to visit Kuala Lumpur before heading to Semporna then a flight to KL is highly recommended. However, if you’re interested in exploring East Malaysia then book a flight to Kota Kinabalu instead. 

Those already in Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu can then take a direct flight to Tawau International Airport. But if your plan is to directly go to Semporna from Singapore then a connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu and then Tawau International Airport is the best choice. 

Step 2: Ride

Source: Unsplash / Ingo Doerrie 

Tawau International Airport is about 80km from Semporna, about an hour and a half of travelling on land. There are a few ways to get to Semporna: by bus, taxi, minibus, or car rental. The cheapest option would definitely be the bus or minibus. But the latter requires you to wait for about an hour as the minibus only leaves once it’s full. The ride may also not be as pleasant for those who get car sick easily. We recommend taking a taxi or renting a car, although these options are a bit on the pricey side.

Step 3: When In Semporna

Once you’ve reached Semporna, you can explore on foot as the town is pretty small. To reach neighbouring islands, you can ride the boats that depart from Semporna Jetty. These boats operate from 8am-4pm so make sure to plan in advance!

Best Time To Visit Semporna

One great thing about travelling to Semporna Malaysia is the weather that’s mostly hot and sunny. It’s said that the best months to visit Semporna is from January to March as it rains the least. The most humid month in Semporna is November, while the busiest time is from November to January. You can also opt to visit Semporna on other months but do take note of the weather forecast during your travel.

Where To Stay

Luxury Hotels

1. Mataking Reef Resort


Prefer a place that’s by the beach? Then the Mataking Reef Resort is a must-stay hotel for those travelling to Semporna Malaysia. There are various rooms to choose from – suites, chalets, or garden options – whichever floats your boat. Other than beautiful views and amazing food, you can also explore the resort’s Water World. It offers a wide range of activities from diving classes to island hopping.

Price: from $947 per night

2. Sea Star Resort

Source: Sea Star Resort Semporna Sdn Bhd Facebook

When travelling to Semporna Malaysia, you might want to stay at Sea Star Resort. Located at Kampung Labuan Haji, Sea Star features rooms that give you breathtaking views. If you do decide to book a stay here, do note that they offer free shuttle services to and from the airport. In addition, you can also go fishing near the resort alongside other fun activities.

Price: from $346 per night

3. Lato Lato Resort

Source: Lato Lato Resort Facebook

Travelling to Semporna Malaysia with relaxation in mind? We’ve got the perfect resort for you. Lato Lato Resort is the only resort that offers panoramic views of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. But that’s not all as the resort offers free meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside other amazing amenities. We’re talking about free snorkelling equipment, BBQ equipment and island exploration services.

Price: from $126 per night

Affordable Options

1. Green World Hotel

Source: Green World Hotel Facebook

Beach by day, city by night – this hotel is perfect for those who like a change of scenery when travelling to Semporna Malaysia. Green World Hotel is located at Jalan Bubul and offers you a localised experience. It’s not too far from the sea so if you prefer a view of the town then this option is definitely for you.

Price: from $57 per night

2. Seafest Hotel


Despite being a 4-star hotel, Seafest is one of the more affordable options on the island. It’s extremely strategic, as world-famous diving spots are only 2 minutes away. In addition, the hotel is right by the sea, allowing you to indulge in water activities throughout the day. After that, you can return to the hotel to savour some of the best local cuisines.

Price: from $64 per night

3. Cube Bed Station Hostel

Source: Cube Bed Station Hostel Facebook

Suspended on top of the sea, Cube Bed Station Hostel is the perfect hotel for anyone travelling to Semporna Malaysia. It’s incredibly affordable and is pretty spacious for the price you pay. You also get a beautiful view and cool breeze at night. 

Price: from $37 per night

What To Do At Semporna

1. Diving

Source: Unsplash / Sebastian Pena Lambarri

What’s travelling to Semporna Malaysia without diving? Typically, people travel to Semporna specifically for diving, as it’s one of the more popular destinations for diving. However, if you do not have a diving license then this activity may not be available for you. Nevertheless, you can opt to get your diving license through the various courses offered here. So if you’re a first time diver then this may be something you’d want to look into.

2. Snorkelling

Source: Unsplash / Hiroko Yoshii 

Should you decide not to take up a diving license, you can choose snorkelling instead. Snorkelling does not require you to have a license so anyone can do it! It’s also a must-try activity when travelling to Semporna Malaysia. This is because you don’t typically get to appreciate all the marine life on a daily basis. From beautiful coral reefs to colourful fishes and turtles, you’ll be able to witness them all.

3. Kayaking

Source: Unsplash / Brandon McDonald

When travelling to Semporna Malaysia, keep your eyes open for transparent kayak boats that you can rent. Not only do they make for beautiful pictures but you get to see what’s under you throughout your kayaking. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience as the water is so incredibly clear too. In addition to the amazing views, kayaking also allows you to exercise amidst all the snacking.

4. Chill by the beach

Source: Unsplash / Sean Oulashin 

You don’t have to jam pack your schedule when travelling to Semporna Malaysia. In fact, you can just relax and enjoy the beach, which is something we don’t usually get in Singapore. It’s a beautiful escape from the constant hustle and bustle of the city life. So get ready to relax on the beach with a good book. Alternatively, you can sun tan or take a little nap – something we rarely do on work days.

5. Indulge in local cuisine

Source: Unsplash / Advocator SY 

If there’s one thing us Singaporeans agree – is that Malaysian food is better. Therefore, when travelling to Semporna Malaysia, make sure to indulge in the local cuisine. You can find various dishes at Semporna that you may not find in Kuala Lumpur. Humble plates of rice, chicken and fish are filled with flavours beyond expectations.

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