PAN BORNEO HIGHWAY > SABAH > TAWAU DIVISION > Semporna Town
Pejabat Daerah Semporna
...gateway to island dreams in Sabah...
Places of Interest in
Semporna is a well known gateway to beautiful islands such as Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai, Mataking, and Pom Pom.
Semporna town was founded soon after the establishment of Sandakan town by British North Borneo Company, which the name means place of rest or place to settle.
The town is mainly populated by Bajau ethnic community, also known as the Sea Gypsies. Most of them live in sprawling stilt villages over the sea water on the outskirt of the town, or live inside their traditional Lepa boats.
Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition
The Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition concluded on 18 December 2010. The preliminary results indicate that Semporna may have the world’s highest marine biodiversity. Eighteen scientists from Malaysia, the Netherlands and the USA spent three weeks examining the reefs of Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia. The biodiversity team documented the species richness for mushroom corals, reef fish, shrimps, gall crabs, ovulid snails, and algae. The reef status team documented the health of the coral reefs.
Semporna Expedition Yields Rich Biodiversity
New Public Jetty
Majlis Daerah Semporna
Semporna District Council
Tel: 089 785350 Fax: 089 785484
KOLEJ KOMUNITI CAWANGAN SEMPORNA
The original Semporna District Office built in the 1930s is now restored as a heritage building by Jabatan Warisan Negara.
Polis Diraja Malaysia
DEWAN MASYARAKAT SEMPORNA
Semporna community hall
TOKONG SAM SHEN
Simple and friendly young people
The local population is made up of a great mix of local Bajau, Chinese, Philippino, Indonesian and few other mixes speaking a variety of dialects and languages. These are some of the friendliest people as they don’t often get to meet to many foreigners.
Semporna population is around 133,000 in 2006. Majority is Bajau live in sprawling stilt villages over the sea water on the outskirts of town.
Marine products are still the mainstay of the local economy. Pearl culturing is a major component of this industry.
Entertainment in Semporna
In such a small town DO NOT expect plenty of nightlife and restaurants or such city life like night clubs and disco or Karaoke.
While the town of Semporna does not have much nightlife, the Seafest Inn serves cold beer and good food, and there are a variety of sea food, Chinese, Indian, and local restaurants to choose from.
This very small town does not have enough street lights. Most new visitor do not feel safe walking around at night.
Buses and taxi’s are abundant. Taxi do not have meters, it is best to negotiate the price.
The communication system is provided by TELKOM Malaysia and although it is efficient their public phones usually don’t work especially in remote areas.
Internet cafes are cheap but a little hard to find.
The hotel you stay normally has free internet access.
Just 25 km from Semporna is an 18 hole golf course set in a palm oil plantation, owned and operated by the plantation. There is a beautiful clubhouse set in the local style with a jungle walk and waterfall behind. There are cabins for overnight stays, but I heard they are closed at present for renovation. There is a local pro to help with any problems, and best of all there is never any congestion. I have played there and we were the only people on the course except for the ground staff. The price for a round of golf was reasonable as well. Setarawarni Tourism will put together a package for a day’s golf with lunch, caddie, transfers for RM 85.00.
An aerial view of Semporna taken in 1952.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This is how it looked like about half a century ago, almost nothing to show off, yet I am still proud to have been born a bumi here, eventhough Semporna is just small town situated in the east coast of Sabah, but she has established milestone of our history perhaps people of Semporna have the gut to be proud.
Read full blog of:
CAGEUR-BAGEUR (mattanjo`s blog)
Transportation in Semporna
Photo above : Long distance bus terminal at Jalan KD Sri Semporna Pangkalan (TLDM)
MANIS EXPRESS SDN. BHD. 089-784900
Time table for long distance bus
to and from Semporna
|Morning Bus||Evening Bus|
|Kota Kinabalu to Semporna||8:00 AM||7:30 PM|
|Kota Kinabalu to Kunak||8:00 AM||7:30 PM|
|Semporna to Kota Kinabalu||8:00 AM||7:30 PM|
|Kunak to Kota Kinabalu||8:45 AM||8:15 PM|
|Lahad Datu to Kota Kinabalu||8:30 AM||9:00 PM|
Semporna Tourism Centre
A RM200 million world-class Semporna Tourism Centre with a 17-storey hotel.
The project will have an effect of changing the skyline of Semporna. Construction works will start this December 2017 . It is estimated to cost RM200 million.
The project will be developed by two government-owned companies Warisan Harta Sabah Sdn Bhd (WHSSB) and Sabah Fish Marketing (SAFMA)
Chairman of WHSSB is Datuk Ramlee Marahaban.
Semporna Tourism Centre will be built on 5.5 acres of land owned by SAFMA. The site is strategically located along Jalan Kastam, fronting seaside of Sulu Sea with beautiful ocean view.
Other than the hotel, the centre will have :
1- a marina,
2- a seafood hub,
4- office space to house government and tourism-related agencies.
Semporna is being known as the venue of the annual Lepa-Lepa Festival which showcases crafted and decorated Sea Bajau boats, Semporna is also the staging post for the world-renowned dive sites in Sipadan and Mabul.
The number of tourist arrivals in Semporna has increased tremendously:
a) 112,857 tourists in 2015
b) 222,739 tourists in 2016,
Semporna is a district blessed with plenty of world-class dive sites, making her a tourist hotspot. Kapalai, Sipadan, and Mabul are famous for its diving and snorkelling, the current facilities in Semporna are insufficient to cater to their needs.
Seaweed Splash 2018
Organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry Sabah (MAFI), aims to promote the seaweed industry in Sabah.
TAPAK WARISAN ARKEOLOGI BUKIT TENGKORAK, SEMPORNA, SABAH
(Bukit Tengkorak (Skull Hill))
As stateless persons with no Malaysian Identity documents, they’re not legally allowed to build on land….so, they’ve constructed entire towns on stilts.
Tuesday, 27-Jan-2009 13:11
Life at Kampung Bangau-Bangau, Semporna
"We urge the public to assist police in hunting the three suspects by providing information on their whereabouts,"
Sabah Police Commissioner
Datuk Jalaludin Abdul Rahman
Badong is connected with a KFR group in Pondohon and reported to have 30 to 40 followers and four boats of 40 and 70 horsepower.
Badong is suspected involved in four kidnapping in Semporna and Lahad Datu, :
1- Pom-Pom Resort November 15, 2013
2- Singamata Resort April 2, 2014
3- Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd in Lahad Datu
4- Mabul Water Bungalow Resort in Mabul on July 12, 2014.
SEMPORNA, June 16, 2014
Chan Sai Chiun, 32 and Mazlan, 20s were abducted from a fish farm by two armed men in Kampung Sapang, west of Pulau Timbun Mata here early 16 June 2014 at 12:40AM.
Chan Sai Chiun is the caretaker and Mazlan, a Suluk worker of the fish cage farm owned by Davel Bay.
It is the third abduction case in the east coast of Sabah in 2014.
The world’s first integrated Lobster Aquaculture Park (iLAP) park in Semporna, Sabah started commercial production in 2014 following the completion of its design and planning stage.
The lobster hatchery is expected to produce up to 40 million pounds of tropical Sabah native spiny lobsters when it reaches maximum capacity in 2029, creating more than 14,000 high income jobs by 2022.
RM2 billion worth of investment created this world's first fully integrated commercial lobster hatchery.
The project is a joint venture of the Malaysian government, Darden Restaurants and Ever Nexus.
Semporna is among the top producers
of high quality seaweed
Rumpai Laut - Seaweed
(Eucheuma - Kappaphycus alvarezii)
Seaweed culture in Semporna started in the late 1970s. A priority of the Department of Fisheries Sabah as a supplementary income-generating activity among the fishing communities in Semporna.
In 1980 a demonstration farm was set up on Sebangkat reef top.
Today many fishermen have involved in seaweed farming of Euchema cottonii because it provides a higher income to fishing. Culture plots are found mostly on the extensive ‘reef top platform’ to the north of Sebangkat and Selakan.
In SIDP, Seaweed Farming is an alternative livelihood for the fisherman in Semporna. Fishing communities now can earn extra income by growing seaweed for sale to processing plants in Sabah.
Carrageenan extracted from the seaweed is used as a stabilizer in food and cosmetics.
Department of Fisheries provided manual on seaweed farming. This manual, in Bahasa Malaysia and Bajau, made easy the farming method by illustration in cartoon drawings and step by step instructions.
Under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP), Sabah is to produce 250,000 metric
tones of seaweed by the year 2010.
This means Sabah must quickly muster the capacity to increase production since its current output only about 50,000 metric tones per year
Financial support to augment production is not likely to be an issue since
the Federal Government has "identified" seaweed farming as a 'high impact
project', where it is going to get high priority treatment and emphasis
Sabah has only two seaweed processing mills for 'semi refined caragenaan' (SRC):
1) Semporna seaweed processing mill
2) Lahad Datu-based seaweed processing mill
Both mill process 'semi refined caragenaan' (SRC) for export to Japan, UK, USA, China and Korea
Sabah is looking for application of "fine technology" for the production of high-quality seaweed seedlings which feature high gel strength, faster growth rate and resistant to disease. This is the key strategy is to improve farm technology.
For seaweed production Sabah can be found in following areas:
1) West coast of Kota Kinabalu and Labuan Island;
2) Kota Kinabalu northward South China Sea islands;
3) Balabac Straits;
4) Murudu Peninsula including Darvel Bay;
5) Semporna Peninsula;
6) Reefs and islands in the Semporna area.
BORNEO’S MARINE PARADISE :
1) SEMPORNA RESORT BY SUDC
2) SIPADAN MANGROVE RESORT (SMR)
3) MT. CONER TOURISM HUB, SEMPORNA
4) ALORIE LEPA LEPA RESORT
A RM155.5millions project
2013 to 2016
THE Semporna waterfront of Sabah’s east coast is set to get multi-million holiday resort boost with plans to develop water chalets, hotels and commercial properties.
Sabah Economic Development Corporation (Sedco) had proposed to build aRM155.5 million holiday resort in 2013 as part of its 10 major projects to accelerate economic development with focus on providing industrial infrastructure and creating new growth centers within Sabah.
The Semporna Resort is to be undertaken by SEDCO subsidiary Sabah Urban Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (SUDC) and construction is expected to start in 2013. The Resort is expected to generate RM53.2 million in gross national income and create 488 jobs by 2020.
“We expect to start works soon after obtaining the facilitation funds from the state government and hope to complete the project in three years,”
SUDC managing director Pengiran Saifuddin Pg Tahir. 2013
Semporna Town comes to life each April during the unique boat festival REGATTA LEPA when the Sea Bajau dress up their Lepa-Lepa traditional sailboats for competition.
More about REGATTA LEPA.
In 2000 the dive resorts on Pulau Sipadan were ordered to ship out in a controversial move to conserve the island's fragile ecosystem. As a result dive centers, budget motels and hotels have sprouted along the waterfront of Semporna to cater for the increasing number of tourists. The waterfront section of Semporna has been transformed with new shop houses that host a few budget hotels. Water taxis busy plying the shore. More about the Waterfront of Semporna.
The local Bajau Laut (sea gypsy) display their exotic lepa sailing boat design. They associate themselves with the bountiful ocean surrounding them. A stroll to the nearby fishing harbor as well as the wet market is spectacle. More about The Fishing Harbour of Semporna.
Just right before sunset, witness the dozens of lepa single mask boats parading themselves home, bringing back daily catch.
Most Visitors know Semporna as a gateway to Sipadan - an island voted the world's Top 5 Dive Destinations. But Semporna is more then that. This little town is also gateway to an ancient seafaring community on islands to be explored and discovered. There many inhabited islands in the Sulu Sea off Semporna. A place where people still live as they have done for centuries, with some modernization. The old ways are dying out but visitors can still see very traditional weddings and local dancing, performed not by paid performers but by the village people.
There are 49 islands scattered off the coast of Semporna, with some of the best coral and beaches one can find in Malaysia. Many of the islands are uninhabited with only the local sea Bajau visiting on fishing trips or to camp overnight.In Semporna you can stop at various points along the sea side to watch the every day Sea Bajau's life such as floating villages, seaweed farming and fishing and how the locals going about their everyday chores. You'll see many different types of boats that the sea gypsy depend on for transportation.
Semporna is also the place where Sabah pearls are cultured.
Ocean Treasure Live Seafood Restaurant (海中宝): Latest addition to the eating scene in Semporna, this restaurant offers a wide varieties of live seafood and other chinese cuisine at a fairly reasonable price.
Being one of the only live seafood restaurant to offer a superb seaview just right outside its premise, this restaurant promises an unforgetable al fresco dining experience for everyone.
Located just beside Sipadan Inn II. (Tel: +6 016 323 9009  Facebook: Ocean Treasure Live Seafood Restaurant (海中宝) or Semporna Live Seafood)
Mabul Café & Seafood Restaurant
Lot 39 & 40, Block G, 1st Floor,
Semporna Seafront New Township,
Tel: +6 089781785
Accommodation in and around Semporna Town
There are many places to stay now in Semporna.
The newest hotel opened in April 2012 is the Han Palace which has 144 rooms for less then Rm100.
For the budget traveler there are the backpacker lodges between Rm20 – Rm50. For the more affluent travelers there are more good deals at Hotels and island resorts!
Accommodations in Semporna has increased the last few years. Several budget hotels, offering dorms and rooms at reasonable rates.
The Seafest Inn (not to confuse with Seafest Hotel) has nice dorms for RM 20.00 PP (US$5.50 approx) even their top room is only RM68.00 (US$18.00).
The other hotels in town are Dragon Inn which is built on stilts over the water, they also offer a dorm, basic for RM 20.00 not air-con, and their rooms are RM 82.00 net, but ask for a discount and they are usually willing to make a deal of up to 30%. The Seafest Inn and the Dragon Inn are the only two hotels down on the water front.
Back in town you have the Old Semporna Hotel, now the Sin Hun Fah, and they will do real deals. for RM20.00 but very basic and in the middle of the town.
Across the street is the Darmai Lodge. Again they do an aircon dorm basic for RM 20.00 and their rooms are RM 58.00 – 68.00. This lodge is right above the old market and the entrance is a bit hard to find, you have to go through the alley off the main street to the back.
Diving in Semporna
This is a list of Dive Centers in Semporna providing Diving Courses and Diving Trips to islands off Semporna Town:
Sipadan Scuba (Sipadan Permits)
Blue Sea Divers (No Sipadan Permits)
Borneo Global Sipadan Backpackers Lodge (Sipadan Permits)
Scuba Junkie (Sipadan Permits)
Perfect Diver, Semporna (No Sipadan Permits) +6089 780577
More about diving in Semporna....
Diving package available from Island Resorts
Mabul Island is close to Sipadan Island. All island resorts offer budget diving. Popular package is 3 Day/2 Night pick up from Semporna, includes accommodation, 3 dives a day, equipment and transfers RM 700 to 100.00 (some meals not included). Available also organized snorkeling camping trips to the other reefs and islands.
Sipadan, of course, is the most famous Island rated as one of the world’s top 10 dive destinations. But visit to Sipidan is only possible if you are booked with one of the resorts.
This was the case a few years ago but there are operators now running from Semporna and sometimes you can pick up a deal with one of the resorts by walking in. The walk-in trade has suffered because of the new restrictions on Sipadan and the companies are not giving such good deals but sometimes you can still get lucky.
Semporna is the 'jump-off' point for Sipadan Island the diving paradise and other islands.
Every one come to the town of Semporna for the world-famous diving spots in Pulau Sipadan, and Pulau Mabul and Kapalai Reef. Daily dive trips can be arranged from Semporna to Pulau Sipadan and the boat journey takes about 1.5 hours. More about The Island of Sabah
SIPADAN MANGROVE RESORT
Semporna Shark Sanctuary
The proposed Semporna Shark Sanctuary (SSS) would specifically protect sharks, mantas, mobulas, turtles and humphead wrasses and address other environmental protection issues (ecosystem approach). It also includes a plan to address alternative livelihoods for fishermen, a comprehensive framework for management and enforcement of the sanctuary and the funding mechanism to finance these operations.
SEMPORNA PROBOSCIS RIVER CRUISE
Take the Semporna Proboscis River Cruise to enjoy a relaxing, eye-opening tour through the mangroves down Buaya River to catch glimpses of proboscis monkeys and other wildlife such as fruit bats, hornbill birds, and the crocodiles from which the river got its name.
The mangrove swamps of East Coast Sabah are home to the proboscis monkey, a protected species endemic to the island of Borneo. It is notable for its large nose, especially among the males.
Its local name, monyet Belanda or 'Dutch monkey', came from the Indonesians who observed that like their Dutch colonisers, these creatures have large noses and bellies.
The proboscis monkey is both arboreal and amphibious, being good tree-climbers and swimmers, known to even swim from island to island.
Semporna Tourism Action Council
MABUL MARINE WEEK
Mabul Marine Week (MMW) is a highly anticipated programme where divers and snorkelers from all over the world come to Mabul Island, Sabah in mid-July every year to assist Mother Nature in rehabilitating damaged and degraded reefs.
This programme aims to create awareness among fishermen, local communities, divers and snorkelers on the importance of conserving the marine environment for the present and future generations.
TOUR OPERATORS IN SEMPORNA TOWN
Tun Sakaran Marine Park (Semporna Islands Park)
Semporna is the gateway to beautiful islands in Sabah's East Coast. Known as an illustrious scuba diving and snorkeling spot in Malaysia. Off the coast is this Tun Sakaran Marine Park (Semporna Islands Park) gazetted by Sabah Parks only in 2004.
Tun Sakaran Marine Park (Semporna Islands Park)
Off the coast of Semporna Town is a new marine park called Tun Sakaran Marine Park (Semporna Islands Park). Tun Sakaran Marine Park was gazette by Sabah Parks Authority in 2004.
Only a thirty-minute ride by boats is Tun Sakaran Marine Park rich in marine biodiversity at Darvel Bay. Here lays the remnants of an extinct volcano crater flooded with seawater to form a lagoon, an underwater paradise to be discovered.
SEMPORNA ISLANDS PARK ACTION PLAN 2001-2005 : http://www.mcsuk.org/semporna/actionplan/actionplan.htm
Pulau Gaia, off Semporna Town , is one of the most beautiful island lagoons in Sabah
The Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP) in Sabah, Malaysia
The Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP) is an initiative involving local communities in coral reef conservation in the 2004 gazette Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah, Malaysia.
The project is managed by the Marine Conservation Society in collaboration with Sabah Parks, and the aim is to protect the outstanding features and biodiversity of the site while promoting sustainable use of natural resources, economic development and traditional culture.
JETI PELANCONG DAN PUSAT
TOURIST JETTY & INFORMATION CENTRE
A RM2 million new project for tourism facilities in Semporna.
The Jetty is the entry to all tourism activity in Semporna when you arrive in town.
Information services ranging from tourism attractions to lodging and transportation are to be found here.
'Battleship Island' in Tun Sakaran Marine Park (Semporna Islands Park)
30 minutes by speed boat from Semporna Town
This most beautiful island in the Celebes Sea is only 20 minutes speed boat ride from Semporna Town (30 minutes for longboat).
This island has the most beautiful beaches among the islands of Semporna.
Semporna is well-known as the exit point for divers who head for Pulau Sipadan dive havens.
A majority of Semporna folk depend on fishing and collecting coconuts, while some work in the private and public sectors.
In the Bajau and Malay language, "semporna" literally means, "perfect". The town with its feet in the sea, Semporna and its many islands are like a dream come true... pure white sandy beaches, coconut palms and tranquil waters lapping over colorful reefs in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Sulawesi Sea. The richness of the sea, fishes of all kinds, sea cucumbers, shells, pearls and in recent years, seaweed farming - all these have attracted seafarers and fisher-folks to Semporna and its islands.
Kampung Tampi-Tampi Timbayan.
SK Kg Simunul
(Simunul Village Primary School)
A Modern Semporna - Wall painting at SK Kg Simunul, Semporna
SK. Kampung Simunul, Semporna is one of the 40 schools in the district of Semporna, Sabah. A Grade A school 2 kilometers from the town of Semporna.
SEMPORNA PUBLIC LIBRARY
The new Semporna Branch Library of Sabah Stat Library opened to public in 2009. The building is within walking distance from SK Pekan Semporna, a primary school originally built in 1939.
Tourism and Marine Industry Zone
‘Semporna was identified as a Tourism and Marine Industry Zone in the Sabah Development Corridor blueprint. Tourism is an important feature in Semporna and will continue to be a backbone for the area, with focus given to increase the attraction of this area among both local and international tourists’.
Encik Bianus Kontong
Assistant District Officer of Semporna
WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna Coral Reefs Project
15th February 2008 Dragon Inn, Semporna
WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna Coral Reefs Project
Semporna Coral Reefs Project is a project on managing coral reefs with fisheries and tourism. So that these coral reefs and marine ecosystems will remain healthy and managed to protect biodiversity.
This Semporna Coral Reefs Project Marine conservation project partnerships including :
1- Department of Fisheries
2- Sabah Parks
3- District Office of Semporna
4- Commercial and traditional fishers
5- Dive and resort operators for tourism
As most travelers start their journey to Sabah from Kuala Lumpur, you should check with your travel agent on how to get to Semporna.