Kapalai? Just one word... Awesomeness!
Imagine basking in a perfect sunset, walking on stilts in the middle of the ocean crawling with life; lionfish, turtles, rays and many more swimming in crystal clear water, right under your feet and everywhere you look.
You will have a time of your life because I did! I stayed at Kapalai in April this year and yes, I have the time of my life! For the benefit of others as well, this is my review on Kapalai.
On arrival, we were greeted by a group of ever-so-friendly staff on the jetty. Don't worry about your luggage, they will sort that out for you while you are blown away, smitten by the picturesque breathtaking oceanic views of endless horizon. It's like living in your kitchen painting. You'll hate yourself if you don't have a camera handy. If you don't, go and get one!
The chalet are spacious, breezy and very clean. Nice comfy bed and best of all, no more cartoon printed bed-sheet! The chalets are built to be very private and there's a huge balcony over the water. You can consider dragging the spare bed in your room to the balcony and sleep under the glittering stars. They have bathrooms that look straight down to the ocean. After a day of diving, you can soak yourself in the bathtub with a cuppa while enjoying the view below. There is no air-conditioning and TV but you wont miss it anyway. Why do you need an air-conditioning and TV when your are living on top of a natural aquarium? Instead, immersed yourself with the sound of the ocean while you are soaked in the sea breeze of Borneo...
They served buffet for every meal and the spread has good variety of Malay, Chinese and Western cuisine. Here you can have fries to go with your Hong-steam grouper, if you are into that sort of thing. The have mini cupcake for tea breaks and even that is surprisingly good. Indeed, I can't remember having anything bad at all. They have BBQ on a Sat or Fri night, I cant remember exactly when and yes, the food is delicious, buffet and BBQ included. Its one of those you expect from a five star joint, so indulged yourself.
The staff are very attentive and the dive operation are world class. They will set up your gear and took care of it. All you need to do is turned up at the dive center and dive, no brainwork require. They will put on your fins, if they have to or if you are too spoilt. We have a cute Japanese guide, Michiyo, very knowledgeable and never fail to satisfy our underwater curiosity. She'll ask the group what we want to see before every dive and she'll find it for us. After 10 crocodile fishes, countless sharks, bunch of nudis, platoons of bumphead and endless stream of jacks and a tornado of barracudas, the group mutually agreed that observing her dive was a pleasure in itself. We ended having a mini-photo competition among ourselves, shooting her signature move underwater. I think she freaked out at some point.
There are no reason to be unhappy at Kapalai, with Sipadan just 30 minutes away and a house reef filled with abundance of life, what more can you ask? Our group has also agreed to rename Kapalai to simply The Happy Place, nuff said!
However, having said and sang all the praises, this is after all a dive resort. Divers will definitely appreciate it but if your wife is not a diver, there is not much else to do. There isn't any island to walk to, just a sandbank during low tide, full of stinging stonefish and stingrays. I'm not sure if it's worth all the hassle and money for a stay at Kapalai. On top of that, the prices are pretty steep. I don't know about the other resort nearby, Mabul and Seaventure because I haven't been there myself. I am sure they are pretty much as impressive. Perhaps others could share as well?