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Dive Review of Sipadan Water Village in
Malaysia/Mabul

Sipadan Water Village: "Excellent trip to Sipadan Water Village", Jan, 2016,

by Steven Evers, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 8816.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I have had a fascination with diving in the Coral Triangle area for a number of years and had not done Borneo. This last August I booked a trip there through Uncommon Adventures, who I have had very reliable service from for the last 20 years. Naturally, I was a bit concerned about safety after reading an article in the November 2015 issue about security in the area, but the trip was booked and I really wanted to go. To a large degree it sounds like we did a trip similar to what was described in your January 2013 issue - Jungle and rainforest stuff to see land animals, and then a week at SWV. I suspect that the recent security concerns contributed to a big issue with booking cancellations at SWV. When I booked the trip in August I was told the resort was pretty much completely booked except for a deluxe room (S122). When we arrived on January 10 there were only about 12 Chinese guests. We did our checkout dive the afternoon of our arrival. The next day we did three dives around Sipadan. Unfortunately my wife was quite tired so she decided not to go. There were only three divers on the boat: 2 newly certified Chinese guys, myself, and the guide, Froi. The third dive of the day had to be one of the most amazing dives I have ever done. It was about 11:30 in the morning and the tide was really low. The dive site was Barracuda Point. When we first got in the water there were about 30 good sized turtles - clearly this was cleaning station area. Then we went a little further (seeing large turtles pretty much all the time) when we got to an area where the visibility became quite poor - the water had turned a brown color. The brown was from poop coming from bumphead wrasse. There were about 150 of them (really!) gnawing on the coral. After that, more turtles and then a school of what had to be at least 1000 jacks. By the end of the dive I'm guessing we saw at least 50 turtles. And the kicker was I never went below 37 feet! After the dive I told the Chinese guys (they understood English but I couldn't understand them most of the time) that they shouldn't expect that kind of dive very often if ever. After that I did that dive 4 more times over the remaining week but it was never like the first time. A note on security: there is a Malaysian military outpost on Sipadan Island now. In between dives we would go onto the island where restrooms and two covered decks with picnic tables were located to have water/tea and snacks. On one side of us was the military camp area and on the other was a bunker with army guys in camouflage and automatic weapons. Also, at the resort, there was a group of Malaysian police officers, also with automatic weapons, which we saw every night. After that first day of diving my wife and I had the dive operation to ourselves for the remainder of our stay so every afternoon after our last dive we were asked where we wanted to go and, other than one day around Mabul, we always went to Sipadan. During our week there my wife and I were the only non-Chinese at the resort, and after the first day there were never more than 3 or 4 Chinese couples (all non-divers). A couple of notes about the resort itself are in order. My wife and I like to read at night in bed. The lights by the bed were very weak and heavily shaded so they were pretty useless for reading. On our second day a technician came to the room needing to repair the air conditioner (I didn't know is wasn't working properly) and I politely mentioned that I would like a better light for my wife so she could read at night. By the look on the guys face I couldn't tell if he understood a word I said. The next day two young guys show up at our door saying they were there to install a reading light! I was not expecting that! They drilled some holes in the wall and mounted an excellent reading light. After that I went to the front desk to tell them how much I appreciated that! Food was pretty much Asian but it was very good (but I'll wait a couple of weeks before I start eating rice and noodles again!). Also, on our last night the resort director was there and he gave us a complimentary bottle of French sparkling wine (it wasn't cold, but heck it was free!). So all in all it was a good trip and we never felt that our security was at risk.
Websites Sipadan Water Village   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Fiji, PNG, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Caribbean stuff, Costa Rica
Closest Airport Tawau Getting There SFO to Dubai to Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-80 Ft/ 18-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dives were kept to 45 minutes, but a couple of times I said I wanted to stay down for an hour and the guides didn't have any issue with that - rarely did I surface with less than 1000 psi.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 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]
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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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