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Dive Review of SMART/Mabul Water Bungalows in

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by John Sommerer, MD, United States
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 3483
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Micronesia, Polynesia, Indonesia, PNG, Galapagos, Costa Rica
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No deco. Dives limited to 45 minutes, including safety stop  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
If you want pictures of green turtles, or bumphead parrotfish, this is the
place. Good coral also. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
Mabul Water Bungalows an up-scale partner of Sipadan-Mabul Resort (SMART).
Great accomodations, good restaurant,  great service, nice spa. 

Dive operation same as SMART. Did not group divers according to experience
-- we had several dives with recent certifications, which is not good for
either the muck (Mabul) nor the blue diving (Sipadan). Boat crews very
good, helpful, and careful with your gear. One divemaster was great
(Deniah): enthusiastic, talented, and flexible. Unfortunately, we spent
most of our time with another (Eddy), who was none of these. Most
irritating was his impatience to get the dive over with; he'd start
signaling "safety stop" at 39 minutes. After he'd made a major
screw-up (and there were several, including taking a group out into the
blue and then losing his direction - we were out there for 35 minutes,
until I went to the surface and took a compass bearing) you might get a 50
minute dive by way of apology. Despite listings on dive board, frequently
changed dive sites to places closer to the resort. Only did Kapalai once.
Some major issues with Sipadan permits. One couple who stayed 12 days only
got to Sipadan 5 times. We went over twice to be turned back. Second time,
all divers pushed back really hard, and we ended up doing both dives there
on the side of the island away from the Malaysian military post, with our
surface interval on the boat. Would not recommend going here until this is
sorted out. Don't know if it's a problem in general, with SMART, or with
our particular dive master. Resort did not volunteer refunds of the Sipadan

The muck is not remotely comparable to Lembeh, so Mabul is not a
destination unto itself, in my opinion. Sipidan pretty much as advertised,
with lots of turtles, big school of bumphead parrotfish (usually only seen
on 6:00am dive at Barracuda Point), lots of whitetip sharks, fewer gray
reef sharks, and an occasional hammerhead or leopard shark (South Point
seemed best for the last three). Barracuda school there, but shy, and with
new divers in our group both times we found them, we didn't see them for

We did a long trip to see Borneo wildlife, which was great, and we had very
good luck in both the Kinabatangan River (3 days) area and Danum Valley (3
days). If I was just diving, I would not come here. Komodo/Manado,
Indonesia, and Palau represent better diving for comparable distance from
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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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