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Dive Review of Reef Resort in
Malaysia/Mataking Island

December, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Sharon Hurst, OK, USA
Report Number 2012
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bali, Indonesia; Bay Islands, Honduras; Grand Bahama Island; Cozumel,
Mexico; Guadaloupe, Caribbean; Key Largo, Florida; Gulf of Mexico, offshore
Texas; Bonaire
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, dry  
calm, choppy, currents  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Sign out and in on board; advised to limit dive to 1 hour; advised to stay
above 130 feet; otherwise, none.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
My husband and I went to Mataking Island in December 2004, at the start of
the monsoon season. Not the best time to go, but we were in Malaysia on
business and decided to take the opportunity to do some diving. Mataking
Island is a beautiful tropical island located 45 minutes by fast boat off
the eastern coast of Borneo, Malaysia. We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kota
Kinabalu (on Borneo), then to Tawau on the east side, where we were met by
Reef Resort staff and ferried to the dock for the boat ride to Mataking.
The only inhabitants on the island are the guests and staff of Reef Resort,
plus the numerous coconut crabs. We stayed a total of 8 days, while other
guests came & went frequently. However, only 2 days seemed crowded when
large groups of Chinese tours came in for a brief overnight. Otherwise we
felt like we had the place to ourselves. The staff is wonderfully welcoming
and helpful. As they waved us off on our last day, we truly felt like we'd
made friends. And the accomodations are so gorgeous, built in typical
Malaysian style. We were upgraded to a deluxe bungalow on the beach, which
had a beautiful deck overlooking the water and lots of space inside. Meals
were served buffet-style in the open-air dining/bar area over the water.
Most of the food was Asian (Chinese and Malaysian/Indonesian), which was
delicious. There were some western foods, but not many. Topside activities
are limited - volleyball, kayaking, snorkeling. We spent our surface
intervals walking around the island (that took an hour), crossing over to
the smaller adjacent islet at low tide, lolling on the deck, and getting
massages. We love shore diving, and so this place was perfect for us.
There's nice coral all along the shoreline in front of the resort, starting
at 15 feet and quickly sloping down to 60 feet and deeper. Mostly coral
heads, and it gets sparse below 60 feet, so we confined our diving to the
shallower depths. Small tropicals and macro creatures were abundant on
these shore dives - morays, octopus, crocodile fish, unicorn fish, leaf
fish, plus all the other typical Pacific types. You had to take the boat to
see turtles and rays, at least while we were there. We never saw any sharks
on these dives, but we understand they are seen often. Mataking Island is
right across the channel from Sipadan, so it has many of the same types of
sea life. Currents could get very strong and might change midway through
the dive, making it impossible to return to the entry point. On our shore
dives, the resort always posted a boat to keep watch for us in case we
needed to get picked up. There were 3 boat dives a day - 8:30, 10:30, and
2pm - which left promptly and took divers' requests into account. In
addition to the diving around Mataking Island, Reef Resort will take divers
on a 3-dive day trip to Sipadan. We never bothered to do this, as much
because of the rough waters (it was the start of monsoon season) as because
we were satisfied with the diving around Mataking Island. I wouldn't
classify the diving as superb, although maybe that was due to the time of
year. But even if it's like this year-round, the diving was certainly
acceptable for us. I've been diving for over 15 years and have 200+ dives,
while my husband was only certified a week before we went to Malaysia. We
wanted something comfortable for him but with enough variety for me, and we
felt like we got that at Mataking Island. The dive shop was terrific, with
plenty of space to leave our gear overnight and between dives, plenty of
filled tanks all day and night, plenty of showers and snacks, a full line
of rental gear. The only bad comment is that, when we were there, the rinse
tanks were limited and rarely cleaned. However, they were in the process of
installing several more tanks, and when we complained about the dirty
water, they quickly cleaned the tanks and refilled them. And that really
was our only complaint. All in all, we both loved this place. It's a
wonderful spot for people who want to get away from it all, especially
couples looking for a romantic hideaway. And I think the diving is good
enough for experienced divers to be satisfied, especially given the nice
shore diving which allows for plenty of bottom time even when the boats
aren't going out. A nice add-on for those who have time: stay in a jungle
camp on the Kinabatangan River and search out pygmy elephants, river
crocodiles, and orangutans, then climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu. But
that's another story! (Website:
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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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