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Dive Review of Sipadan-Mabul Resort in

Sipadan-Mabul Resort: "Disappointing diving in Sipadan", Sep, 2015,

by Carolyn Tyler, Bali, ID ( 1 report with 2 Helpful votes). Report 8381 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 1 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We are experienced and well-traveled divers with many excellent experiences under our (weight) belts. I was looking forward to diving the legendary islands off the northeast coast of Malaysian Borneo-- a birthday present from my partner.
Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai are tiny little specs of land with reefs touted as "a macro diver's paradise". Sipadan, which is strictly controlled with limited diving permits issued each day, is supposed to have pristine reefs (having been "protected" since 2002) and huge schools of pelagics. Not much macro, but I was told there was plenty to photograph at Mabul and Kapalai.
Dive time was limited to 45 minutes even if we had 150 bar left. We are used to 60 minute dives . We were sorely disappointed to find stretches of bombed-out reefs and few colorful corals in the shallows of Sipadan. It was a rare treat to find even a red or orange gorgonian on the wall. There were lots of yellow tunicates, though. We even heard two bombs, sounding like very loud underwater shotgun blasts, while during our second dive. Our dive guides said it was a common occurrence around the islands, but it was "far away".
Of the three sites Barracuda Point, Coral Gardens, and Drop Off we dove, Barracuda Point was the most rewarding, with a school of giant bump head parrotfish in the shallows, unbothered by us as we entered the water. The visibility was terrible in the depths (and this was the case on every dive out of 23 total), but we managed to make out the shapes of groups of sharks and got in the middle of a swirling ball of jacks (not barracuda like all the published photos advertising this site show). It was exhilarating.
I'm not sure how Coral Gardens got its name, but Drop Off is indeed a wall that apparently goes 600m down, although we could only see 7m of it.
The next day we were put on the schedule to go to Sipadan a second time, but were disappointed to discover that we would do a repeat of Barracuda Point. We frolicked with the bump heads again, but there were no schooling fish, including Barracuda. We saw lots of sharks up close and personal at White Tip Avenue, and Mid Reef had lots of turtles lolling about. In fact, turtles were the common denominator on most of our dives, so if you are a turtle fan, perhaps the trip is worth your while.
We stayed at Sipadan-Mabul SMART Resort, which I don't recommend for the following reasons: The menu was repetitive, the food was unhealthy and not tasty, the rooms need repair, and we were robbed of $900 from a locked safe on our last night (three other couples leaving with us also lost money from their safes the same night). The manager couldn't have been more unsympathetic and bullied us when we asked to make a police report. VERY bad experience. All but two of the dive masters were excellent, and the house reef at the Mabul Water Bungalows is fabulous for schools of fish and macro night dives..
Websites Sipadan-Mabul Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All over Indonesia (Komodo, Raja Ampat, East of Flores, Forgotten Islands, Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii,
Closest Airport Tawau Getting There from Kota Kinabalu which connects to major Asian cities

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas no currents
Water Temp 26-27°C / 79-81°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 5-7 M / 16-23 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Not below 30m, 45 minutes and no more, even if you have 100 bar+.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Go to Indonesia instead
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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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