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“Stunning location, food and diving not so great” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Bubbles Dive Centre and Resort

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Bubbles Dive Centre and Resort
Tanjung Tukas, Pulau Perhentian Besar 22300, Malaysia   |  
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Brighton, England
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Stunning location, food and diving not so great”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2011

The thing about Bubbles is the location. It is absolutely stunning, a really wonderful white sand beach, located on the furthest populated point on Perhentian Besar. The rooms do not have a sea view, but are right next to the beach. There is a lovely coldwater creek running into the sea, and steep hillsides covered in dense jungle which surround the cove. It is literally like a scene from a Bounty Bar ad, and in my opinion the best beach on the Perhentians. There are hammocks beach front where you can just relax and let your troubles drift away.

The rooms are a nice size, and have good air conditioning, the beds are absolutely huge, and the hotel owner said that she had to have the bed sheets made up especially in order to accommodate the bests. There's king-sized beds, but these are Emperor-sized!

Bubbles is the most remote accommodation on the island. It is very laid back, so please don't go there if you want any nightlife! The water taxi's to Bubbles from any of the main 'strips' on the island such as Coral View or Abduls costs 25 Ringits, which is around £5 per person, but doubles after 7pm. And this is where the problem begins........

The food at Bubbles really isn't great. The breakfast is actually fantastic, and the best breakfast I had whilst in Malaysia. Sadly, lunch and dinner were way off the mark. We ate from the A La Carte menu, but the food was around a 3rd more expensive than the rest of the island, (captive audience), and not great quaility. One day I had a beef stir-fry that was completely inedible as the meat was so tough and gristly; a lot of the sauces were very sweet and not very nice. We went to Abdul's for a BBQ one night, got the night taxi back, and ended up paying £20 (100 RM) just to get back to Bubbles, so eating elsewhere was not an option after 7pm.

Then there was the diving. We only took 1 dive with Bubbles, and maybe we caught them on a bad day. I think that Bubbles may be a victim of it's own success; there is only 1 Diving Instructor on the Perhentians that speaks Mandarin, and he is based in Bubbles. This means that the resort is extremely popular with Chinese divers, who come to the resort in large groups. On our first dive there were 14 people diving including 2 Dive Masters. The group was supposed to be split into 2, but it was really just a melee, and there were too many divers for everyone to be kept an eye on properly. We saw 1 diver catch a clown fish in his hand, snatch it away from the anemone, and grasp it whilst is wriggled for it's life in it's hands. I'm sure that if the Dive Master had seen this he would have interveined, but there was so many divers it was impossible to control the group. Also, as soon as I had descended, some of my regulator mouthpiece broke off in my mouth where the previous diver had bitten through it, so the equiptment was not checked as well as it could have been. I was forced to make the whole dive on my alternate air supply octopus. Finally, the boat actually left without my partner and I, because the group was so large, they hadn't done a head count in, and we were left waving for the boat to come back, stuck on the beach. We did not have anyone go through our dive afterwards and debrief us, we could not fill our logbooks in and had to ask several times for help getting them done for the 1 dive we took, at the end of our stay. I have dived with many establishments before and I was not comfortable with the set up.

The following day we were told by a couple who had been out that day diving with Bubbles that their Dive Master had suffered some kind of panic attack under water, and the couple had to help him to the surface as he had gone rigid.

We made the decision to pay for water taxis and dive with Watercolours next to Coral View. They only take groups of 4 maximum, and had wonderful 20 minute debriefings going through all the aquatic life we had encountered, over french toast and a cup of tea. They were a fantastic dive outfit, highly recommended.

So, to summarise, Bubbles is an absolute paradise, and a great place to stay for a couple of nights away, (just take a load of biscuits!) However, I would recommend that if you like to dive in small groups, use Bubbles as your base but dive with Watercolours.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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161 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
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English first
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2011

Bubbles Dive Centre and Resort is a fantastic place to go if you are a lover of diving, either as a beginner,( I actually did a discover scuba dive there and went back a couple of months later to qualify), or as a seasoned diver.. Great snorkeling too! We have been 7 or 8 times since April 2009 and have two more trips planned for this year. The staff are great and always happy to oblige, both in the resort and dive centre. It is easy to get there for KL, 40 minute flight, with transport waiting for you at the airport, 40 minute bus ride and about 35 minutes by boat.
The rooms are basic but clean, and with air con which you really need.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2010

I was a little apprehensive when we booked to go to Bubbles for a week of diving, because of the reviews which said just how secluded it was. However, arriving up to the beach on the boat, my boyfriend and I immediately started smiling. It was totally deserted, totally sheltered from everything else by the cliffs and the trees, and totally the type of place we were looking for. We hopped off the boat, took off our flip flops and didn't wear shoes again for a week!
The service was very 'relaxed', for example, we weren't shown to our rooms for about four hours after we arrived. But because we could just go down to the beach and relax, it didn't make anyy difference. By the middle of the week, we had got used to the laid back service, and it just added to our our sense of relaxation. (Although there is one staff member working behind the bar who simply does NOT smile. Every small request felt like a big favour.)
The dive centre was amazing, and the diving in the area is fantastic. The house reef is good, and every evening we took to sitting on the beach, having a beer, and watching shoals of fish jumping out of the water, and listening to all the noises of the jungle behind us.
Our room was big, clean, and free from the sort of unwanted 'visitors' that you often get when you're so near the jungle.
My major disappointment was the food. We had opted for the package, which was three meals a day, and a snack in the afternoon. Breakfast every morning was horrible sausages, scrambled eggs and beans. That would have been ok a couple of days, but there really should have been some attempt at variety.
Lunch was generally wedges/spagetting bolonese/fried rice/some sort of salad. Very carb heavy, and very average, but generally edible.
It was dinner that was the big problem. The chef seemed to take the tactic of using whatever he had in the kitchen and putting it all together. One evening we were given fish that had been deep fried in batter, and then mixed into a thick lemon sauce. It was horrible. Vegetarian option tended to be deep fried tofu, or more scrambled eggs.
Both myself and my partner lost weight, because we simply had no interest in eating the food there.
Now, there is a a la carte menu, and on the 5th night, in complete desperation, we ordered off that, and found the food to be actually quite good. But to have pursued this option for the whole week would have made the trip very expensive .
Having said all of that, it is perhaps an indication of how relaxing and beautiful the location is that I never wanted to leave. Normally, if food is not good in a place I go, I cannot enjoy myself. But despite the food here, I had one of the most romantic, relaxing, easy, chilled out weeks of my life. No tv, no internet, very bad phone coverage, no bars, no restaurants, no shops. Nothing but a stack of books, a beech all to yourself, and a sea full of some of the best diving I've ever done. If you really want to get away from everything, this is your place. Just bring some snacks.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wiltshire UK
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
105 helpful votes 105 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2010

This was the highlight of our trip for our kids - they absolutely loved this place. The accommodation has recently been rebuilt and they now have some interconnecting units which is perfect for families. The rooms were clean, spacious and had air conditioning. Several families were staying when we were there. Great to be able to snorkel straight from the beach - and dive too if you want to (but absolutely no pressure to try a dive if you're not interested). We saw a turtle laying eggs one night and hatchlings being released another. This is an 'eco' resort with a marine biologist on hand to show these sights and take you on a trek into the neighbouring rainforest. For food, we didn't do a 'package' but had 'a la carte' food which (of course) meant we could have whatever we wanted whenever. Choice of food was fine (both Malaysian and western), service only slightly slow, no big problem. Overall, it was quite expensive (2 rooms plus food) but we thought it was worth it for the superb location and great laid-back atmosphere. Don't come here for nightlife - many of the people staying were backpackers from 'the old days' wanting a similar atmosphere but with a bit more luxury (and the kids in tow!). The new Ozzie manageress does a good job keeping everything ship-shape and strking a good balance between catering to tourists and conservation volunteers. I haven't really got a bad thing to say about the place!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2010

Excellent place to learn diving due to clean and calm water.
My wife and two kids learnt diving at Bubbles.
It was fun.The diving instructor, Ronnie is very knowledgable and patient towards teaching children.
We saw turtles coming ashore to lay eggs in the night.
Recommend for families or couples who enjoy peace and nature !

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2010

There are certain things about this place that are very good, and certain things that aren't.

The location is secluded. It's the only resort on the beach/bay. So it's quiet and peaceful. Water is turqoise clear and very beautiful. Beach is not the amazing white fine sanded beach we all dream of, but it's good.

Nothing wrong with being secluded, as there's plenty to occupy your time during the day. Snorkelling. Diving. Swimming. Hanging out on the beach. Etc etc. We spent 5 days there and it had lots of fun during the day.

But after dinner time, expect NOTHING to be going on. We wished there were board games at least, to entertain ourselves with. But there were none. After dark, it got terribly boring.

We are on the package, with food included. Food is a buffet 3 meals a day. It's very average. Expect something like American-Chinese food. Why would they not cook the delicious food that Malaysia is famous for? I have no idea.

Our double room is spacious with an open air shower. It's good.

Note that no rooms have sea-view, in spite of what they might say in an email or otherwise.

The dive centre is excellent. Very friendly and good dive masters. Kat is the one to go with.

My biggest complaint would be about the service. It feels like you get service only when they feel like giving it. Our room is cleaned randomly. Sometimes it's cleaned. Sometimes it's not. No idea why.

Our package includes an afternoon snack everyday. One day, they forgot. The next day, we didn't get one. I asked why. They said it's because "one chef is sick and the other two are too tired." WTF?!

One of the staff is very moody. They are sometimes ill-organised with poor communciation between them.

The manager's son is wierd and moody. E.g. he told us that the sea is 15m deep where the floating platform is. It was actually just 8m or so. He then told us that water at the next island will cost RM100 a bottle, so don't go there. Really?!

He put up a big mood when we left our key in our room one evening and complaint throughout. The resort had a poor lock system. They are basic press-in locks, not requiring your key to lock your room - so it has happened to other guests. But fine, we are sorry, but we are still guests. We don't need to put up with your attempt at a moody guilt-trip.

On the other hand, the place runs a turtle conservation project as well, which I think is great. We get to watch turtles come up to nest and watch them go back to sea.

Come here for the turtles. Come for the dive centre. Come for the ocean and the beach. Expect wierd and odd service that can either be relaxing or disappointing. Expect nothing going on at night.

Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
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Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2010

Before placing a booking there, me and my friend did lots of research on this place, as it was highly recommended by some colleague, we were finally convinced to go to Bubbles after seeing an underwater album of their house reef from flickr. Thrilled and excited, and we finally arrived, we were really disappointed as the vibe was pretty awkward, as if we are not welcomed at all. Then one of the floor staff lead us to our room, though I was expecting to be checked-into the A frame chalets, but instead it was a brand new constructed room, very spacious, clean and has a open-air shower as well. Though it’s a better room but the person who arranged our booking should have told us earlier on (we did our booking 2 weeks before arrival). We did ala-carte, so ala-carte food here is really expensive, but understandable due to limited supplies on the private beach on an island. We only get to eat according to the restaurant/canteen time, once you miss it, then you’ll have to wait for the next meal. Ice-cream and sodas are available at all time during the day. I had my dives there, it was a weekday so me and my friend get exclusive private dives with 2 dive masters Kat and Cynthia, they are totally lovely. Just snorkel around their house reef (either to the right or left, both are good) the whole place is infested with anemone and clown fish. On the right bay, I saw this huge grouper, one bumphead parrot fish and a huge black tip reef shark. On the left bay, we saw a school of 9 bumphead parrotfish, and after that 2 turtles! The experience was totally unforgettable, I also paid RM60 for boat snorkel tour, fins are not allowed (WTF, really might as well not go), lotsa other resort’s snorkelers which really scares off all fishes. Don’t bother going, REALLY. The first night we arrived, there were 2 turtle hatchlings ready to be released into the sea, and on the last night of my 6 nights, there was 1 turtle who came up for recce. Nature lovers will surely love this experience

I love the people there, everynight we will camp at the canteen and chat with other divers, we also made friends with the dive instructor and the chef, Basically that is the only activity at night, if you’d like to drink a cuppa at bars, you will need to take a boat out to long beach, you can arrange with bubbles at RM25, returning you will have to scout for a boat taxi by yourself, after 7/9pm returning rate is around rm40 per pax.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Bubbles Dive Centre and Resort

Address: Tanjung Tukas, Pulau Perhentian Besar 22300, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Terengganu > Pulau Perhentian Besar
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 9 Specialty Lodging in Pulau Perhentian Besar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A eco-friendly, family friendly resort location on it's own beach. Running an Turtle and Reef conservation project on site to spread awareness about the sea turtles and their environment ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bubbles Dive Centre Hotel Pulau Perhentian Besar

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