Sipadan Inn is located within the new precinct of Semporna waterfront. To be exact, the hotel sits at Block D of the shophouse rows just a few metres off the ocean front and just a walking distance away from the fish market of Semporna.
In general, Semporna is best accessed from the airport in Tawau (TWU) which is located some 100 kilometres away where daily flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Johor Bharu (JHB) are operated by both Malaysia Airlines (MH) and AirAsia (AK). The airport transfer takes about an hour and should cost anywhere between RM10 for local bemos and RM120 for private taxis. There are also options for pre-arranged airport pickups by the many dive outfits based in Semporna which you will need to check in advance on the timing and rates.
Opened in early 2007, Sipadan Inn is situated in a freshly painted shophouse block spanning across a few units. The hotel prides itself in offering clean and well-appointed rooms for those who seek a little more than backpacking-style lodging option in the town of Semporna. The hotel lobby on the ground floor sports a modern look with freshly painted wall, teak furniture, plastered ceiling and an internet station. A laptop computer is conveniently provided at the internet station for a quick online access. Behind the reception counter is the main staircase that leads to the rooms on the upper floor of the shophouse.
There are 32 rooms offered by Sipadan Inn spanning across the 2nd floor of the hotel building. The room categories offered by Sipadan Inn are Standard, Superior and Superior Seaview. In general, each room comes with individual air conditioning, flat screen colour TV with selected ASTRO channels, electronic hot shower, bottled drinking water, coffee and tea making facilities and wireless hotspot which signal is relatively good even from the upper floor. There are a few added extras for the spacious Superior and Superior Seaview rooms such as a mini fridge and a TV lounge.
Sipadan Inn does not offer many guest facilities per se, but for dive trips to the many islands off Semporna, the hotel is affiliated with Sipadan Scuba outfit operated by North Borneo Dive & Sea Sports which is located right next door. As for F&B outlet, there is none within the hotel building, but located within the shophouse row is Turtle Tomb Café, obviously named after a famous dive spot in Pulau Sipadan, which is more of a night spot serving local and western dishes along with alcoholic beverages.
Actually, there is almost no reason for anyone to come to the town of Semporna except for the world-famous diving spots in Pulau Sipadan, and to some extent, Pulau Mabul and Kapalai Reef. Daily dive trips can be arranged from Semporna to Pulau Sipadan and the boat journey takes about 1 1/2 hours. Considering one usually pays through the nose to stay at Pulau Mabul or Kapalai Dive Resort, 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 brings you to Semporna town filled with cheap bargains but the town itself is not entirely clean and organized. In the evening, the waterfront section of the town comes abuzz with affordable food stalls selling local delicacies that are sometimes unique and scrumptious.
Currently the hotel runs special internet room rates as follows: Standard Room RM78 per night, Standard Room with coffee and tea maker RM88 per night, Superior Room RM158 per night and Superior Seaview Room RM168 per night. Do ensure to double check with Sipadan Inn for the latest room rates.