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Dive Review of Borneo Divers in
Malaysia/Mabul, Sipadan

September, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Eric Eckes, CA, United States
Contributor   (14 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5205
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, La Paz, Fiji, Galapagos, Hawaii, Indonesia, Palau, Philippines,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth: each dive set separately. Max: 100  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Secure, large camera room. 220v. No compressed air.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
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

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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