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Dive Review of Seaventures Dive Rig in
Malaysia/Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai

December, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Jennifer Widom, CA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5323
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
Water Temp
80   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
On group dives: time limit, safety stop
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 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):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
(Same review submitted to tripadvisor)

Our family of four divers stayed on the Seaventures Dive Rig for six nights
in late December, 2009. We were happy with every aspect of our stay.

Because our stay was at the start of the rainy season, the rig wasn't
nearly full -- there were no more than about 15 divers each day. On the
good side, because the rig can obtain Sipadan permits for at most 11 divers
each day, and some of the other guests were doing courses or reserved much
later than we did, we were able to go to Sipadan every day of our stay
except one. (We requested one day of Mabul & Kapalai diving; we might
even have gotten Sipadan that day had we wanted.)

On the down side, the visibility was considerably lower than what one can
expect in the peak season. Nevertheless, over our stay we saw everything we
could have hoped for: prevalent sharks and turtles, schools of barracudas,
jacks, and bumphead parrotfish, frogfish, leaffish, mandarin fish, pygmy
seahorses, the list goes on and on. Sipadan deserves its reputation for
superb sealife, while the "muck diving" at Mabul, Kapalai, and
under the rig is a lot of fun, especially for photographers.

With the tradeoff between visibility and Sipadan availability, it's hard to
say whether we would have preferred a high-season visit.

The dive operation is a fairly well-oiled machine (no pun intended). We had
the head divemaster, Mando, for our orientation dive under the rig and for
most of our boat dives. His sense of humor was excellent, adding a dose of
fun to every briefing, boat ride, and dive. He was relatively loose:
briefings were brief; he showed the way and pointed out lots of interesting
stuff, but he didn't keep close track of divers -- buddies were free to
separate from the group if they wished. That all worked well for us, but
divers wanting closer supervision might be slightly disconcerted.

Each day included either three dives at Sipadan starting at 6:00am and
returning to the rig before noon (it's about a 20-minute boat ride; boats
are very comfortable), or an 8:00am start with two morning and one
early-afternoon dive at nearby Kapalai & Mabul. Independent diving
under the rig was permitted until 8:00pm, and it was possible to buy
additional Mabul or Kapalai boat dives for a very reasonable $25 per diver.
(For example, we bought an extra boat dive to Mabul one day at 5:30pm when
the mandarin fish come out.) The divemasters are also willing to join for
under-the-rig dives if asked, for example we twice had a divemaster come
along to show us some extra-special creatures.

While we did not do any courses on the rig, there were several people doing
them, and reports are that the instruction is excellent.

One small warning: the crew weren't always super-careful about tank swaps.
A few times we discovered non-refilled tanks before a dive, and one time a
BC was loose enough that a tank came out.

In terms of accommodations, don't expect the rig to be five-star, by a long
shot. They do a pretty good job with upkeep, and the rooms are clean, but
it really is a renovated old oil rig, and it's tough to keep things in good
shape on the water. The huge area with the dive deck, eating, and
socializing zones is very nicely set up (the many "gardens" of
potted plants are an especially clever touch), and a it's a wonderful place
to simply hang around. There are various other public rooms but we never
used them. The basic double guest rooms are just that: small and basic.
However, for only about $20/day extra we booked one of the two "family
suites" (a misnomer since they also sleep two). It was amazing: about
eight times the size of the basic rooms, with carpeting, a king-size bed,
leather couches and glass coffee table, etc. We highly recommend going for

The food was plentiful, mostly Malay style, lots of fresh seafood, and very
good. The staff on the rig were friendly and competent. The elevator that
brings you down to the water to board a boat or dive under the rig is truly
unique. Overall, we very much enjoyed the atmosphere and functioning of the

We can't compare the rig to the more expensive options on Mabul or Kapalai,
or the cheaper option of staying in Semporna (a bit of a dumpy town) and
enduring the longer boat rides each day. But if we went back, we would most
certainly stay on the rig again. One suggestion (based on our positive
experience and hearsay): Book as early as possible, and make sure to
express well in advance your desire for Sipadan permits.
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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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