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

September, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Mike Cavanaugh, TX, US
Contributor   (12 reports)
Report Number 6234
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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

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth limitations were not enforced but dive time was.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
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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