Semporna is a small town on the coast in southeast Sabah, in the Tawau division. The town itself is unspectacular, but is relevant for tourists as the gateway to the nearby islands in the south Celebes sea. These include among others Sibuan, Mabul and Sipadan, world-famous for its fine diving sites. Semporna has changed a lot since my last visit in the year 2000: nowadays there is a good tourist infrastructure in place, catering to both backpackers (several places where to stay for less than RM100/night) and to the higher-end traveller. Semporna has a number of dive operators (Scubajunkie, Sipadan Scuba, Uncle Chang and others) who organise dive daytrips to the nearby islands. Staying in Semporna and doing daytrips is an option for those who can't afford to stay on the resorts of the islands (although Uncle Chang offers accomodation on Mabul for less than RM100/night). Semporna was founded in the 19th century by the British and is nowadays populated mainly by Bajaus, people who originally came from the Philippines.
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