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Dive Review of Sipadan-Mabul Resort/SMART Water Bungalows in
Malaysia/Mabul-Sipadan

Sipadan-Mabul Resort/SMART Water Bungalows, Sep, 2007,

by Steven Levin, VA, United States (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 3545.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Throughout Asia-Pacific, Australia, Galapagos, Carribean, Indian Ocean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 45 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions In general diving is done as a group but there is some flexibility Dives at Sipadan limited to 50 to 60 minutes. More time allowed at Mabul and Kapalai.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

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 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments On the boats there is a small bucket in which people put their masks and small cameras. Other than that boats at best have a mat on which cameras can be placed. At the overwater bungalows there are no camera facilities other than a rinse area. Charging and other camera activities are carried out in your bungalow.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This is my sixth visit to the Water Bungalows over the last three years. The quality of the bungalows, food, and operation of the resort remains very high.

The resort. SMART has two operations on the island of Mabul. On the main island there are chalets, a restaurant, and dive center. Separate from the main island resort are the Water Bungalows. These are located at the end of a long jetty with a beautiful setting. Each bungalow is independent with a large deck, A/C, mini-fridge, desk, sofa, bed(s), and satellite television.

There is a separate restaurant for the Water Bungalows that serves very good food. All meals are buffets. In the morning there are eggs cooked to ordered and freshly squeezed orange juice. Throughout the day there is fruit and cookies. Lunch and dinner features a range of dishes with three or four dishes such as lamb, beef, fish, prawns as well as salads, soup, and deserts.

The usual diving program is two dives a day at Sipadan and a third dive at Mabul or Kapalai. Due to the restrictions at Sipadan on the number of divers dive boats leave for Sipadan at 5:30 AM, 9 AM, and 12:30 PM for their two dives. There is gear storage and pickup/dropoff for the divers at the Water Bungalows.

Diving at Sipadan offers dramatic walls with large numbers of turtles - Green and Hawksbill. Sharks, mostly White Tips) are seen frequently as well as resident schools of Jacks and Bumphead Parrotfish. There are some sightings of Zebra and Hammerhead Sharks but these are usually deeper. The interval between dives at Sipadan is spent on the beach where sandwiches, hot drinks, and fruit are provided. The trip to Sipadan from Mabul takes about 25 minutes when the sea is flat but can be up to an hour if there are big swells.

Diving at Mabul and Kapalai is about little creatures. There are mini-walls such as Lobster Wall and slopes at places such as Ray Point and the Eel Garden. Small creatures can include Frogfish, nudibranchs, flatworms, pipefish, oranguatan crabs, etc.

The SMART House Reef is located at the end of the jetty at the Water Bungalows. Tanks are available and you can enter the water from steps down to the water. The House Reef is an extensive area with many large man-made structures. There is a resident school of Jacks, some large groupers, and other small creatures. When I was there three Frogfish were in residence.

Getting to the resort involves flying to Tawau which can be done via Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur. After flying to Tawau there is a 1+ hour drive to Semporna (port) and a 40 minute boat ride to the resort.

Summary. An excellent operation with diversified diving.


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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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