The resort is located on Jalan Kastam in the town of Semporna. There are daily flights from KL to Tawau by either AirAsia or MAS. Then from Tawau airport, take a cab directly to the town of Semporna, some 100 km away, for RM80 per car. For more adventurous, take the public bus to Tawau town, then get one of those "minibus" to Semporna which will only set you back RM5. Expect the "minibus" to leave only when the capacity is full.
Dragon Inn is not an island resort by itself. Opened in 1985, it is a popular pit stop for travelers heading to the world famous Sipadan and Mabul. It offers a very distinguished resort experience not many places in Malaysia can offer. The rooms are built on stilts and they have an amazing view of the ocean, Bajau Laut's lepa boats and sunsets.
In total, there are about 70 rooms scattered throughout the floating resort. There are 6 VIP rooms, 7 family suites, 33 singles, 16 doubles, 3 longhouse units (each can fit in 18 pax), and 3 dormitory-style units (can fit in 4 pax per unit).
The longhouse and dormitory units are only equipped with fans, but the latter only have shared bathrooms. The single and double rooms are air-conditioned and come with hot shower (though the water pressure was rather abysmal during my visit). The family and VIP suites are definitely larger and located on their own floating chalets. When I stayed at a family room, I also noticed the unit had some sort of a living room with wooden sofa and adequate windows that you can open to enjoy the immaculate sea breeze.
The resort also has a conference hall, a multi-purpose hall, a fabulous seafood restaurant called Restoren Bandar Mutiara and a number of natural aquariums where various types of ocean fish are reared for visitor showcase.
Actually, there is almost no reason for anyone to come here except for the world-famous diving spots in Sipadan, and to some extent, Mabul and Kapalai. Daily dive trips can be arranged from Semporna to Sipadan and the boat journey takes about 1 1/2 hours. Considering one usually pays through the nose to stay at Mabul or Kapalai, staying in mainland Semporna isn't exactly a bad idea, especially for yours truly.
Other than that, the daily lifestyle of the local Bajau Laut tribe (or sea gypsy) is worth mentioning. I am always smitten by their exotic lepa boat design and how they associate themselves with the bountiful ocean surrounding them. A quick stroll to the nearby fishing harbour as well as the wet market is quite a spectacle, to say the least. Also, just right before sunset, you can witness the dozens of lepa boats parading themselves home, bringing back daily catch.
A short walk away out from the resort brings you to Semporna town with cheap bargains but the town itself is not entirely clean and organized. At night, you MUST try the floating seafood restaurant (Restoran Bandar Mutiara). Cheap lobster and coral grouper taken fresh from the water and specially cooked for you. Lobster goes for RM50-60 per kg, while grouper goes at about RM40-50 per kg. 4-5 people can enjoy 1-kg of grouper.
The VIP unit starts at RM135 per night, Family (RM88), Single/Double (RM66), Longhouse (RM15 per person) and Dormitory (RM20 per person).