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Dive Review of Seaventures in
Malaysia/Borneo, Mabul and Sipadan Isl.

Seaventures, Oct, 2012,

by Benjamin Mandell, PA, US ( 1 report). Report 7319.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I think staying on the rig is a pretty wonderful and unique experience for the right person. Overall, the rig is massive so it isn't really comparable to a liveaboard boat. For couples and for people with lots of equipment, the rig is much nicer as you have all the space you want and it is a bit like a floating hotel (even though it doesnít move at all) in terms of accommodations. With that said, the rig isnít new (more wear and tear than I expected) and the accommodations are targeted at the budget oriented diver compared to some of the resorts on nearby Mabul Island (200m away).

The food was good and they had a dessert cooler, deluxe drink station and snacks during the day between meals. The food was served buffet style and overall the quality and variety was higher than I have had on any of my budget oriented liveaboard trips.

Overall, I think the staff did a great job. They greeted you with a drink on arrival and worked hard to take care of all your needs. I found the divemasters to be truly excellent. They kept positive attitudes and didn't try to overly control divers as so many less experienced divemasters do. They were happy to point out tons the small macro life around Mabul but if you weren't interested, they let you be.

The only negative experience I had with a staff member was someone in the gear rental shop. After arriving, I went to get a regulator and I was a bit shocked how old and worn the reg appeared. I normally rent gear when I dive and I have rented gear in many different countries and this may have been the worst condition regulator I have ever rented. I asked to change to a different reg which the staff did quickly but there was no obvious difference. When I wasn't thrilled with my replacement reg, the staff person said, "If you don't like the gear, bring your own." This obviously isnít a nice thing to say and it upset me a bit. However, besides the occasional funny diaphragm sound (above water only), I didn't have any problems with my reg but my low pressure inflator hose gave off a steady stream of bubbles the entire 4 days of my diving. Besides this one experience with the gear rental staff, I think the staff did an excellent job of being polite, super prompt, anticipating my needs, and trying to show me a really great experience. I should also mention that I was a single traveler and they put me in my own room without any additional cost and they only charged me a half-day gear rental fee for the first and last day, which for me was beyond what I expected.

In terms of the diving, this was the best diving I have done so far in my life. As background, I've been diving 8 years and have logged 160 dives so far. For me, a few things made this trip the best yet. First, I have never dove with such a massive school of jacks. The jacks were always there and they would let you swim through them without any bother. The first few experiences with the cloud of jacks was mesmerizing and I suspect I will forever remember this experience. Second, we got close to a big school of barracuda, which was wonderful (although I did not see the barracuda tornado which Sipadan is famous for). Of course, the turtles were plentiful including a Hawksbill and the sharks were even more amazing. I can't be sure how many sharks we saw because I don't know if they swam away and came back or we just saw new ones (maybe 10-20 sharks on one dive). But the sharks (white tip and gray reef mainly) were .5-2m in length and would let you get pretty close (< 3m when they seemed to be sleeping). Personally, this was the first time diving with such a strong concentration of large predators so I was in heaven.

For Mabul Island and other nearby sites, I feel like it was a feast of macro things. We could see tons of different nudibranchs, flatworms, pipefish, leaf scorpions, dragnets, pygmy seahorses, shrimps, crabs, and more. The divemasters were super experienced and had no trouble finding tons of macro life. There were also some wonderful blue-spotted rays and giant morays to enjoy.

Interestingly, the government strictly controls the number of divers that are given permits for Sipadan each day. And yet the staff worked hard to maximize opportunities and bend corners whenever possible for us to dive Sipadan as much as possible. For me and most of the people in my group, we were able to dive Sipadan 2 of the 4 days we were there. For comparison, Seaventures only guarantees 1 permit/day with a 4 day visit. So, if you are planning a visit to Sipadan, I would suggest you do some research ahead of time so you know what to expect.

The last thing I will say is that the diving under the rig (house reef, available anytime you want with a buddy) was surprisingly descent. There isn't much coral around the rig or the nearby Mabul Island so folks have placed all sorts of artificial structures to help attract marine life. Yet, there were often schools of fish and lots to look at only an elevator ride away. And how many times in your life will you be able to swim on to an elevator platform waiting below the water line wearing all your scuba gear, and wait as it lifts you directly out of the water. Simply awesome!
Websites Seaventures   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Jordan, St. Lucia, United States
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 83-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 15-25 M / 49-82 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Most divers in our group were more advanced and the divemasters treated each diver as knowledgeable and I didn't notice any specific limits.
Liveaboard? yes 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 5 stars Large Fish 4 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 Sipadan is rather famous so there are a lot of underwater cameras around. There is plenty of space to spread out your gear on tables and they have a dedicated camera/computer rinse tank on the rig. Also, they have lots of outlets at the bar so you can plug-in batteries between dives and keep your recharging gear close by.
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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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