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

September, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Steven Levin, VA, United States
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 3545
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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

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
45   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
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

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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