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Dive Review of Sipadan-Mabul Resort in
Malaysia/Sipadan, Mabul

Sipadan-Mabul Resort, Sep, 2011,

by Mike Cavanaugh, TX, US (Contributor Contributor 12 reports). Report 6234.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Costa Rica (Pacific)
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 25 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limitations were not enforced but dive time was.
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 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The boats were small (could carry 12 divers). No rinse tank or bucket on boat. Photo equipment (camera and video) was handled correctly by boat crew but was laid on a seat cushion or a life vest at rear of boat in open sun and underfoot. Camera was laid lens side up with flip down macro lens which melted camera shutter inside housing. Should use wet towel to cover camera gear. Dock had nice sized rinse tank for cameras only. Rooms had multiple plugs (outlets) for charging batteries, strobes, etc. Plugs were 220 V but a variety (US, Singapore & European).

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 N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Mabul Water Bungalow was a very well organized and managed resort. Eva the manager was always on patrol to insure the customers were happy and that the dive operation was running smoothly. The rooms were nicely furnished and clean. A/C worked great and mosquitoes weren't too bad. The food was always good and there was always enough to eat. The resort tried to offer more than one variety of food to accommodate the fussy eater. The bar was never busy, we were the only customers. The bar ran out of 2 types of rums the first 2 days and we were left with drinking an "off' brand" rum. Definitely room for improvement on stocking the bar.

We stayed at the resort during a slack period so there we got to dive Sipadan 3 days. The other days we were diving the house reefs at Mabul and Kapalai. Lots of macro things to see at the house reefs but not much natural coral. We saw the largest green turtles and moral eel ever at these two islands. Overall the dive leaders (not sure of their credentials) were all complaining of being overworked and their lack of enthusiasm was apparent. While they were friendly and courteous they only wanted to get in quickly and then get out just as quickly. They rarely interacted with the guests and mostly slept during the surface intervals.

Nitrox was available but comparatively was expensive @ $10 USD/tank. The resort has an analyzer for Nitrox but no pressure gauge to check the tank. One of the tanks during the 2nd or 3rd day was 1500 psi and the dive leader dove with the short fill. While checking subsequent tanks with personal regulator a miflex HP hose broke at the gauge console. This happened at right after dinner. Eva the manager arranged a golf cart to carry us to the land based operation and the dive shop promptly changed the hose out. This is impressive service and we were quite pleased as we did not bring spare HP hoses. As a side bar note I had my HP miflex hose also bust at the console the following day on the boat. The boats all carry an extra regulator so I was able to continue diving. My LP inflator hose is a spare air so i was using the oral inflator to adjust buoyancy. These miflex hoses are only 2 years old and we are quite anal about taking care of our gear so the hoses were not abused. I have quit using miflex for the HP hose.

We were expecting world class diving at Sipadan island but we did not experience that. The visibility was not very good and the currents could be quite swift (a fast drift dive). We did see tons of sharks (white tips, black tips and grey reef sharks). We also saw so many turtles that I quit shooting video of turtles. The schooling barracuda and bumpheads were impressive but hard to capture on video or camera due to the visibility. We have heard many opinions on the best time to dive Sipadan but I'm not sure who to believe because they are all contradictory. I would dive Sipadan again only after I have dove other bucket list dive spots of the world. I would highly recommend Mabul Water Bungalow (bring your own rum).

One last note - the resort offers a terrible exchange rate (2 MYR to 1 USD when rate is actually 3 to 1)so bring enough Malaysian Ringgets or use your credit card for the incidental charges at the resort (we had a $1000 bill checking out).
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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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