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Dive Review of Seaventures in
Malaysia/Sipadan

Seaventures: "Sipadan", Oct, 2015,

by Mike , MI, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 8541.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Palau Sipadan, Malaysia
Last week of Oct 15
Winter again in the US so it is time to spend the days off at SCUBA activities rather than back in Montana. Wanted to go somewhere different so we chose Sipadan a preserve in the province of Sabah, Malaysia. Probably one of the top 10 destinations for sea life in the world. You cannot live or stay on the island so we decided to stay on the Seaventure’s “Dive Rig”. It is as close as you can get physically and is an old (1983) small hydraulic jack up rig converted to support recreational diving. I did all the organization myself over the internet.

Flew from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur then on to Tawau. It was a relief to get out of the smoke and haze flowing in from Indonesia this time of year. Overnight in the Heritage hotel and then picked up in the morning for a two hr. drive to Sempora, the port all the local dive operators work out of. Hotel was nothing fancy but clean, cheap and very helpful, I had them arrange the taxi pick up at the airport. Dinner that night was chicken rice at a little place across the street from the hotel. Boat ride out to the rig was 35 40m minute by fast boat.

Had lunch, got unpacked and did a check out dive under the rig that afternoon and then one more dive over at the local island Mabul. Basically muck diving but some surprisingly large fish. You can do three to five boat dives here a day. Night diving around the rig with your buddy as you wish.

If you stay 4 days they guarantee a trip to Sipadan. The operator holds 11 day passes and they pay for them whether they use them or not so that they keep the slots. The Sipadan preserve only allows 120 divers (passes) a day so during busy times it gets crowded. We, however, lucked out (again). Very quiet when we were there so we got to go to Sipadan 5 days in a row. Just remember you pay for a park pass each day you go out.

Sipadan Island is about a 20 to 25 min boat ride from the dive rig. The only presence on the island is a heavily armed Malaysian police to deter the Philippian pirates. There are also armed police on the rig at night for the same reason. On deck early for a 6:00 AM departure so you can get in the water before the other operators groups. Seems to work well, we were coming up and having our breakfast on the island when the other local groups began arriving. Then off for the second dive and once up we start to see the boats arrive from town. One more dive and then back to the rig before lunch.

If you want you can do two local boat dives in the afternoon or simply dive the rig yourself with a buddy. We slept and sorted pics. Only bad thing about this area is everyone else interested wants to go there for the diving as well. We were told the best time for weather is February to June but it can be busy.

Dive gear loading unloading is handled by the crews with cleaning of wet suits etc. done by yourself. Fresh water is limited so we did our final cleaning back at the apartment in Singapore. Rental gear looks good and they were helpful when we had a computer problem in lending us a gauge panel. They do the full gambit of PADI courses with heavy emphasis on add on courses particularly Teck diving.

As I understand it the rig was one of the early resorts after the government kicked the resorts off of Sipadan, so it has a following with divers who come to this area. Resort is probably not a good description, it is old and the accommodations comes in dormitory style (4 people), double rooms or two large rooms. The accommodations could use some work but is adequate. The food is plentiful, buffet style and mainly Asian in taste. The bar is limited to beer and wine (Australian) but not expensive. If you want something else bring it but you will be charged a corkage fee.

There are now other resorts in the area notably on Mabul Island next door providing similar operations but not as good diving services or so we have been told. Guests in this area are now predominately Malaysian, second group is Chinese, with the third group being Japanese. We dove with a couple of Malaysian gals, a Canadian, and a New Yorker. Dive Master was excellent, the New Yorker was a new to diving and needed help, which was provided with more patience than I would have had. He left us alone to do our thing once he saw we were competent. The crew is local and very competent and attentive and it is more of a club atmosphere than at an upscale resort.

What we saw. Unbelievable herd of bump head parrot fish, too many sharks to mention, schools of jacks, all the small reef critters, large tuna, cod, squid, coral of all kinds etc. Has to be the healthiest reef I have ever seen, less evidence of humans than in parts of Raja Ampat.

The Sipadan island is actually a sea mount with 600 meter drop offs all around. Interestingly the island was declared a turtle sanctuary in 1817 by the British North Borneo Company and has been a sanctuary of one kind or another since then. You can’t go anywhere without seeing turtles and one of the gals we dove with said she helped with a project last year to tag over a 1000 of them.

In summary if you are just looking for fantastic diving this has been the best bang for the buck in all the trips the last two years. If you value it by the number of fish and the health of the reef it is by far the best value we have seen. If you are looking for a luxury dive resort this is not it but if you want to immerse yourself in SCUBA people from around the world and fantastic dives this is it. We plan to go back but not during the busy time. Sipadan after all is the draw and you want to spend as many dives there as you can.
Websites Seaventures   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Mexico, Rotan, Dominica, Belize, Truk, Solomon's, Palau, Raja Ampat, Manado, Lembeh Straights, Australia
Closest Airport Tawau Getting There Flights to Tawau from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, then a 2 hr. van drive and about a 35 min. boat ride.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-60 M / 66-197 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions plan for 30 m (90 ')unless trained to go deeper
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Bring a power cord for the room
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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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