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Dive Review of Borneo Divers in
Malaysia/Mabul, Sipadan

Borneo Divers, Sep, 2009,

by Eric Eckes, CA, United States (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 5205.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, La Paz, Fiji, Galapagos, Hawaii, Indonesia, Palau, Philippines, Yap
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth: each dive set separately. Max: 100
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Secure, large camera room. 220v. No compressed air.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Planes, Trains, and Automobiles would best describe the trek from California to Borneo Divers located on the island of Mabul in Malaysia as it took three flights, a bus ride, and finally a boat ride to reach the resort. Borneo Divers was one of the original dive resorts that vacated the island of Sipadan in 2004 by government order and they resettled on the island of Mabul.

The Borneo Divers resort was comfortable. There are two rooms to a bungalow with several bungalows arranged in two rows facing towards the ocean. The rooms themselves were adequate, nothing fancy. Several members of our 13-member group reported plumbing problems which were promptly resolved. Getting clean towels was often a problem as the housekeeping staff would take away the dirty towels without replacing them.

The restaurant served as the central meeting place. Free Wi-Fi was available in the restaurant and adjacent meeting room. The restaurant offered a variety of food at each meal which typically included beef, chicken and seafood dishes. Food was served buffet style. The food was adequate, although several members experienced bouts with intestinal flu.

The dive operation was an improvement over the accommodations. Borneo Divers maintains several dive boats and they worked just fine during our visit. Our boat captains, Sing and Rudi, were most helpful. Entry into the water was via backroll and they had ladders available to board the boats. They assisted those in need with retrieving their gear from the water. Dive gear is maintained in a large, secure facility on the dock. Each diver was provided a basket to maintain their gear and these baskets were routinely transported between storage and the boats by the crew. There were dedicated rinse tanks for camera gear, wetsuits, and regulators. There is a nice sized camera room with 220v power. Hairdryers, rather than compressed air, were available to dry camera gear. The one disappointment from the dive operation was their failure to deliver promised Nitrox. They do not have a membrane system so tanks are blended individually. At $15 per Nitrox fill it would seem that a membrane system would pay for itself in no time.

Diving Mabul is a tale of two dives: the beautiful reefs of Sipadan and the muck that surrounds Mabul. Sipadan allows only 120 visitors a day by permit and Borneo Divers has 14 of these precious permits allocated daily. As a result, we were most fortunate to dive Sipadan three of our six days of diving (twelve dives in all).

Diving Sipadan is an out of this world experience. There is an abundance of coral and we were treated to large schools of barracuda, jacks, and bumphead parrotfish. In fact, the size and mannerisms of the bumphead parrotfish reminded me of the old days of buffalo roaming the plains. Turtles, the largest I have ever seen, were found on virtually every dive. Our divemasters, Amanda and Christ, were excellent are finding a variety of sealife for us to photograph. Our persistent pestering paid off as we convinced a skilled divemaster, LJ, to take us into the Turtle Tomb. The Turtle Tomb is a cavern dive. Over the years a number of turtles, a porpoise, and a marlin, have found their way into the cavern only to lose sight of the entrance and die. Their bones can be found throughout the cavern.

The muck diving was equally rewarding. We dived a number of sites around Mabul including the famed Seaventure resort. Seaventure is an old oil rig that has been converted into a dive resort and sits just offshore from Borneo Divers. Borneo Divers sports a very healthy house reef. Here we saw turtles, blue spotted rays, mandarinfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and the most curious cuttlefish you will ever come across!

In six days I was able to get in twenty five dives. Each dive was special in its own right. I highly recommend that everyone dive Sipadan in their lifetime. The reefs are healthy, beautiful, and are teeming with sealife. The muck dives did not disappoint with natures oddities. I give top marks to the dive staff. With just a little more focus on the resort amenities this could be a first class destination.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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