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Dive Review of Mataking Reef Resort in
Malaysia/Mataking/Sipadan

September, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by J Sloane, DC, USA (1 report)
Report Number 3030

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Reporter
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, NA/CA Pacific, Asia

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
surge  
Water Temp
0   to 0    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
0   to 0    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
?  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth limits and time limits (50 minutes) stated at beginning of dive but
were negotiable.   
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
2 stars   
Advanced
1 stars    
Comments  
I stayed at Mataking for 7 days and six nights.  I paid for 2 long boat
trips (3 hours round trip) to Sipadan (six dives total) and then dove at
Mataking the remaining days.  

Sipadan was as advertised: a very pretty wall with big fish everywhere,
including bumphead parrotfish, giant trevelly, sharks (whitetips with some
greys thrown in) and schooling jacks and barracuda.  Sipadan is also
blessed with an abundance of turtles and I saw at least a few different
individuals on each dive.  Very little current except for at Barracuda
Point where the current was strong each time.  

Except for also having a large local turtle population, the diving at
Mataking and surrounding islands is completely different from Sipadan.  The
reefs are generally coral outcroppings situated  on a sloping sand bottom. 
The coral is either in excellent shape, completely destroyed or somewhere
in between depending on the site.  Mataking specializes in the small
critters and the diving was quite good for that and I was fortunate enough
to see a blue ring octopus, a sea moth, mandarin fish, mantis shrimp, lots
of anemone creatures, orangutan crab, scorpion fish, stone fish, lots of
frog fish, crocodile fish, etc., etc.  

The diving was done as a group drift dive.  The current could often be very
strong and the resort may not be ideally suited for beginner divers for
that reason.  The resort imposed certain depth floors for each dive and
generally limited dives to 50 minutes.  I often came up with plenty of air
in my tank but I never found the limits overly restrictive and I always
felt that the limits were negotiable depending on what was happening in the
dive.  The resort offers three boat dives a day (8.30 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM)
as well as offering unlimited shore diving on the house reef, although I
wasn’t fully able to take advantage of this offer because I often could not
find a buddy for the later dives.  The dive staff was friendly and helpful.
 Their English ranged from good to sufficient.  I felt that the dive staff
made an effort to keep the dive groups small and every time my dive group
got to be more than 5 or so, the dive shop sent out another boat, although
the resort was not at all crowded with divers the week I was there.  There
were actually a lot of people staying at the resort that did not dive. 
However, other than eating, sleeping, and doing a bit of snorkeling there’s
not a lot to do on the island.  

The Reef Resort is a very nice resort.  It sits on a very small island that
it shares with a small police station (the police/army presence in both the
neighborhoods of Sipadan and Mataking was very noticeable).  The rooms are
air conditioned, large and very comfortable.  The whole of the resort runs
along the beach so everyone’s room is less than a minute walk from the
water.  The dive shop is mainly an open air affair with plenty of room.  It
is adjacent to the restaurant which has three open sides.  The food could
use some improvement but was more than sufficient in both quality and
quantity and the bar was fully stocked.  The service of the staff was
excellent.

In hindsight, although I was very satisfied with the diving at Mataking, I
think overall Bunaken/Lembeh Straits in Sulawesi is probably better for the
small stuff, although Sulawesi does not have the big stuff close to it like
Mataking does.  I think if I ever went back – and there are a lot of
reasons to go back – I would dive Sipadan out of a Mabul resort for 4 days
and then do 4 days at Mataking to get the full flavor of both the big and
the small and leave the long (and expensive) boat trips for someone else.
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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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