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

Seaventures Dive Rig, Dec, 2009,

by Jennifer Widom, CA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 5323.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving worldwide
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 80 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 25 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions On group dives: time limit, safety stop
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments (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 it.

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 rig.

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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