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Dive Review of Mataking Reef Resort in
Malaysia/Mataking/Sipadan

Mataking Reef Resort, Sep, 2006,

by J Sloane, DC, USA . Report 3030.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, NA/CA Pacific, Asia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas surge
Water Temp 0 to 0 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits and time limits (50 minutes) stated at beginning of dive but were negotiable.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 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 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments I stayed at Mataking for 7 days and six nights. I paid for 2 long boat trips (3 hours round trip) to Sipadan (six dives total) and then dove at Mataking the remaining days.

Sipadan was as advertised: a very pretty wall with big fish everywhere, including bumphead parrotfish, giant trevelly, sharks (whitetips with some greys thrown in) and schooling jacks and barracuda. Sipadan is also blessed with an abundance of turtles and I saw at least a few different individuals on each dive. Very little current except for at Barracuda Point where the current was strong each time.

Except for also having a large local turtle population, the diving at Mataking and surrounding islands is completely different from Sipadan. The reefs are generally coral outcroppings situated on a sloping sand bottom. The coral is either in excellent shape, completely destroyed or somewhere in between depending on the site. Mataking specializes in the small critters and the diving was quite good for that and I was fortunate enough to see a blue ring octopus, a sea moth, mandarin fish, mantis shrimp, lots of anemone creatures, orangutan crab, scorpion fish, stone fish, lots of frog fish, crocodile fish, etc., etc.

The diving was done as a group drift dive. The current could often be very strong and the resort may not be ideally suited for beginner divers for that reason. The resort imposed certain depth floors for each dive and generally limited dives to 50 minutes. I often came up with plenty of air in my tank but I never found the limits overly restrictive and I always felt that the limits were negotiable depending on what was happening in the dive. The resort offers three boat dives a day (8.30 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM) as well as offering unlimited shore diving on the house reef, although I wasnt fully able to take advantage of this offer because I often could not find a buddy for the later dives. The dive staff was friendly and helpful. Their English ranged from good to sufficient. I felt that the dive staff made an effort to keep the dive groups small and every time my dive group got to be more than 5 or so, the dive shop sent out another boat, although the resort was not at all crowded with divers the week I was there. There were actually a lot of people staying at the resort that did not dive. However, other than eating, sleeping, and doing a bit of snorkeling theres not a lot to do on the island.

The Reef Resort is a very nice resort. It sits on a very small island that it shares with a small police station (the police/army presence in both the neighborhoods of Sipadan and Mataking was very noticeable). The rooms are air conditioned, large and very comfortable. The whole of the resort runs along the beach so everyones room is less than a minute walk from the water. The dive shop is mainly an open air affair with plenty of room. It is adjacent to the restaurant which has three open sides. The food could use some improvement but was more than sufficient in both quality and quantity and the bar was fully stocked. The service of the staff was excellent.

In hindsight, although I was very satisfied with the diving at Mataking, I think overall Bunaken/Lembeh Straits in Sulawesi is probably better for the small stuff, although Sulawesi does not have the big stuff close to it like Mataking does. I think if I ever went back and there are a lot of reasons to go back I would dive Sipadan out of a Mabul resort for 4 days and then do 4 days at Mataking to get the full flavor of both the big and the small and leave the long (and expensive) boat trips for someone else.
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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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