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“Great place to chills & relax” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Monkey Dives Lodge, Borneo

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Monkey Dives Lodge, Borneo
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Bum Bum Island, Semporna 91300, Malaysia   |  
Hotel amenities
1 review
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Great place to chills & relax”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

This was my second to stay at this place, the first time was nov 2012. I would not recommend this place if you are looking for a place that offer 5 star services and facilities. The lodge was small with limited rooms, i love this since less people, less crowd and headache. Everbody know each other that stay there, we become like small family.
They provide 24/7 electricty & fresh water from the mainland, why I say this because like other places, the electricity is only from 7pm until 8am next morning which is troublesome when your toys like ipad, laptop or hp need to charged, and wifi also 24/7 available.
The way the lodge is design make it very unique with their new sundeck that you can relax in the hammocks and lazy chairs, did I mentioned that it's always wind to cool the place even in the noon. The lodge pool and aquarium also very interesting with so many variety of fishes and others like sea horses, crabs, horse shoes crabs that you can see and explore when you do night dive.
If you are divers, they provide services to dive at very amazing dive sites at Sipadan, Mantabuan, Mabul, Kapalai, Bohey Dulang, Sibuan, Timba2 just to mention some of the places that I have dive.
Would i come again? Definately....

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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44 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

We, a family of 2 adults and two boys, 11 & 15, pre-booked a 3 days/4 nights stay at Monkey Dives a couple of days before departing to Sabah. The reason why we did this were the few but all excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. There is a catch, as we found out the hard way…
Our experience at Monkeys was a mixed bag: some of which very good, some of which surprisingly worrying and sad for a tourism operator.
The good: we received good and timely pre-departure info from Fi, one of the owners. Our boat transfer upon arrival was very well taken care of ( 15’ from the jetty in semporna to the lovelymonkey place on stilts). The place itself is very nicely located and built. The “swimming pool” (an area of the sea that is netted off) is amazing and our boys were in it snorkeling within 2 minutes after arrival. The two guys running the place ( Fi and the other co-owner were absent at the beginning of our stay ) are great:Tony the divemaster and Harris the “ organizer” ( and interpreter for the other staff that did not speak English). The dive trips were absolutely amazing. Although two of the four of us were quite inexperienced divers, he made us feel at ease, did some skill training and took us then on 8 marvelous, low depth (max. 12 meters) dives , spread over three days, during which we saw the most gorgeous sea creatures and had a lot of fun doing so.
The rooms are basic but OK ( bring your own sheets or cotton sleepbag). The 3 shared bathrooms are basic but OK (bring your own soap/shampoo) . The deck with its beachchairs and the dining table is extraordinary! At 5PM, upon return from the diving, we got some nice fish or banana fritters every day.

The bad: apart from the fritters, during the 4nights/3 days that we stayed here, we were very dissatisfied by the food. Though we were used and very much like the “Sabah cuisine” in the 14 days before arriving here, we had the impression that the food purchase was done on a 3 RM/per person/per day budget. Examples: 1) The first and third breakfast consisted of one (1!) cold pancake per person with some honey and chocolate dressing on it. Our request for more pancakes or something else to start the day was discounted with the words: sorry this is all you get 2) The lunck pack we got during the dive outings was too basic: some dry, white or yellow rice and a small fishhead with hardly any meat on it. Oh yeah: there was one (1!) onion ring with it the first day. No fruit,no vegetables, no sauce. The first diner: again dry white rice with a fish head. Full stop. After complaining the first evening, we got three additional, raw cucumber slices in the lunch boxes the next days and the dinners on day two and three were OK, but could not come close to the great food our hostfamily cooked us earlier on the Kinabatangan river. The most worrying of our experience was the attitude of the owners. From day one they were only interested in getting our money and as much of it as possible. They not asked us one single time, during the last two days that they had arrived, how we were getting on.This came to a very negative climax upon checkout when they took us “hostage” for 90 minutes by not having our transfer boat ready at the requested hour and by first claiming several hundreds of RM extra for unannounced surcharges for the dives ( basically: I prebooked 1 snorkelling package and 3 dive packages and “upgraded “during the first day from snorkeling to diving). Instead of charging me the surplus for the extra diving package ie 500 RM, the owners claimed surcharges of 200RM per dive x 8 dives) . After some very strong discussions, we reached a deal with the owners on the supplement to be paid, only after she made us sign a written declaration stating that we were not allowed to write anything bad about Monkey Dives on Tripadvisor. With this review I formally and strongly protest against such blackmail practice. ( You will surely read how dishonest we are in the owners reply to my review ). Now I understand why Monkey Divers only has rave reviews. For me this is a great place, but during our stay it was run by accountants not tourism industry professionals. Ask for transparency on your bill and enough decent food (bring your own snacks, drinks & beers from Semporna, they only sell bottled water and Coke) from the start and you’ll have a great time.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Subang Jaya, Malaysia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2013

Monkey Dives wonderfully sums up the term of 'being at sea'. Located right smack in the middle of the ocean, the quaint lodge floats strategically around some of the most gorgeous marine life found here in Malaysia. The owner Fizlee, is as colorful a character as the sea creatures you will see underwater, she and her warmth staff certainly make your experience a Kodak moment!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013 via mobile

Basic place with great people to take care of you! Fizlee an Ben have been the best in taking care of us, above and under water!! Ben was soooo great doing the advanced with my friend, Fizlee organising all else.

No wax to get to the mainland for shopping though, so if you sometimes need something else then water, rice and fish you should bring your own! (Coke-beer-cookies-chips)

If you want some adventure!! Go!! If you need luxury....better stay home!!

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

2 friend and I stayed at Monkey Dives as a small luxury part of our 5 week backpacking tour of SouthEast Asia. We aren't scuba divers so we opted for the less-expensive 3D2N snorkeling package.

Overall, the stay was amazing. Fi and Benny were the two hosts - both were incredibly hospitable and charismatic. The diving spots were incredible and were about 1 hour from the lodge itself. However, maybe the best part is that Monkey Dives is relatively new (2 years old) and avoids the bad parts of an uber-popular company (high prices, lack of personality, etc.)

While most everything was great, I recommend finding a taxi at a cheaper price than the one offered by Monkey Dives (usually around 100RM). We found a driver for 70RM who was professional and courteous moments after stepping out of the Tawau airport.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

How do you start to describe this place! I always say be honest so others can make up their own mind, so here we go.
Look at the pictures and read the reviews, then you have the whole picture.
This place is exactly what you see. A house on stilts! Its more what l would call a homestay.
The house holds 6 rooms from memory although fee is adding an extention. So you have your own private bedroom.
The rest of the house consists of 3 toilet/bathroom spaces out the back, along with the cooking area and the main deck out the front.
We arrived here by Airasia from KL to Tawau for around $60 each. Fee organised for someone to pickus up from the airport for 100ringetts. The drive was approx an hour to get to Semporna town. The town is very small, dont expect to run into other tourists!!
We then took a boat trip, about 10-15mins to the lodge.
It was certainly different from what us aussies are used to. However you dont come here is you're not looking for an experience.
The fact that you can just jump into the water and see nemos right there is amazing!!
Their own little pool area is great. I saw a lion fish, clown fish, stringray, squid, peacock shrimp, all in the space of around 15m by 15m, simply amazing.
We spent a day snorkeling at Mabul island. What an experience. The boat pulls up about 50m off shore and you just jump in. It didnt take long to find a turtle, that was really exciting for me as lve always wanted to swim with turtles. However the rubbish is terrible! It floats everywhere in the water and its very disappointing to see such a beatuiful place spoilt by so much rubbish.
The next day we did our dive. My partner did an intro dive in the pool then we went to an island for the dive. My oh my how clear the water was, and warm. We dived in a t-shirt, too hot for a wetsuit! There were so many tropical fish, l have no idea what most of them were.
As far as the dive experience goes, we are probably sorry now that we didnt do more! Thanks Beni, you did a good job :-)
Fee is terrific! She took photos on my camera which was great as otherwise we wouldnt have had them. She did her best to accommodate our needs.
If you are looking to come here for diving, l would recommend staying with Fee, but this place is only for diving. Sight seeing is done either at Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu.
Few tips........ when you go snorkeling or diving to the islands take some money as you can go and buy drinks or food. We didnt know this so was a bit disapointed.
Also if you want beer or snacks while you are at the lodge, take it with you.
There is no 7Eleven across the road!!!
Also watch the kids in town. They are very rude in asking for money, l didnt like to say no however they were extremely rude!
Other than that.............. enjoy your stay!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
1 review
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

My boyfriend and I came here as our last leg of a 2 week trip around Malaysia, and it was definitely my favorite part of the whole thing. The main purpose was to dive Sipadan, and monkey dives was able to make that happen, but make sure you book a few months in advance to secure a permit. Fiz, a delightful girl who runs the lodge, was very informative about how to get to the lodge, arranging transport and all, and the status of our permit in the couple of months before we arrived, and always really prompt with her email responses.

The location is fantastic. The floating chalet provides an excellent environment. The ocean pools they've netted off make good snorkelling, with a variety of fish (and seahorses!). The room was a good size and clean. The food was excellent, with something different at every meal. The staff was very accommodating and we felt very relaxed.

The first day of diving was to a couple of islands in the area. There is an amazing number of things to see, and the resident dive master, Benny, is knowledgeable about the different species and just as excited about the creatures we saw as we were. The Sipadan dive we did the next day was run by Borneo Dives. Sipadan is all about the larger creatures of the ocean, sharks, turtles, huge schools of jack fish, etc, (not say that these are not spectacular, because they so are!), but it was nice to also dive with someone who can spot nudibranch and discuss the minutia of ocean life. Benny was also very accommodating to our diving level (we had not been diving in over a year ack!), and gave a good refresher so we could feel comfortable. All the diving gear was brand new and it excellent condition.

Would absolutely recommend staying here.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Monkey Dives Lodge, Borneo

Address: Bum Bum Island, Semporna 91300, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Semporna
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Semporna
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Leave the comfort of a Hotel and Resort behind! Welcome to Monkey Dives Lodge Borneo – A local experience like no other.Monkey Dives Lodge Borneo is a 7-room FLOATING wooden lodge about 20-minute boat ride from the little town of Semporna, Sabah. Ideally located in Borneo, we provide full board stay for adventurous (or not) and simple travelers, divers and snorkelers. All year round, we offer packages for all diving and snorkelling aficionados in several wonderful islands to choose from. Let your imagination and travel desire make the decision for you. In addition, we offer various PADI dive courses to accommodate different scuba diving levels. We make sure you get to experience some of the best diving in Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea and our macro heaven, Semporna Channel. Let Monkey Dives take you on a tour to experience Bajau Laut's (also known as the Sea Gypsy) unique country-style of living, that will totally leave a mark on your travel experiences. Visit the local fishing village or the seaweed farm and learn about ocean agriculture business. Add a little romance by enjoying the beautiful pink/orange sunrise and breathtaking sunset (remember to have your camera all the time) from the Monkey deck. And if you are lucky, you will get to see some turtles hanging loose and swimming in the channel.Here at Monkey Dives Lodge Borneo, we continuously demonstrates our commitment to the environment. We promote and teach eco-diving, run our lodge in an environmentally friendly and clean manner, as well as, collaborate with few NGO to assist in research on current environmental issues and marine life preservation. We would like to invite you to join Monkey Dives Lodge in Semporna and look forward to serving you in the near future! Cheers! ... more   less 

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