My partner and I stayed with Scuba Junkies from the 13th-18th of October. The two of us have dived with many dive operators over the years, both resort and live aboard; throughout 14 countries. A lot of the trips we do, are documented and passed on to our Dive club members and friends, so you could say I had high expectations of this operation; given their close proximity to the sublime Sipadan. Our flight from KK to Tawau was delayed which did put our connecting boat ride from Semporna to Mabul in doubt. I'm happy to say the staff did hold the boat departure by 45 minutes, so we could make the 50 minute crossing that afternoon and not the following morning. On arrival we received our key (Room 24) and the bags were promptly delivered.
- Accommodation: Our room was clean, presentable and had both a fan and fully functioning fridge and air conditioner. The wrap around balcony with hammock was also an asset for drying wet dive gear. The bathroom was very clean and modern.
- The following day's diving is presented on a large white board in the eating area, detailing your dive masters, dive boat and departure time. The staff prefer you to review the board before asking questions, given the volume being pumped through; fair enough. For those bringing their own gear, you do need to discuss with the staff as the operation is focused on recreational divers with renting gear. Note: sidemount divers, there are no tanks setup for DIN connectors and they do not have the required allen key to alter the tank valves. Fortunately I did bring my own converters.
- Food: Buffet style, self serve. The quality was quite good but you do need to get in line as soon as it's served, as the fruit goes quickly and some of the guests can be very hungry.
- Dive Sites: The operation is setup for two days in Mabul, then a day on Sipadan. The quality of the house reefs are good and quite varied with plenty to see. Kapalai is excellent and Sea Adventures is world class. The viz ranged from 8m to 20m. The two days on Mabul's reefs (three dives per day) are worth it but the Sipadan day is exceptional. Tornados of barracuda, Jack fish and 100 Bump Head Parrot Fish...incredible.
Dive Operation: Well organized, all gear is loaded on the boats and a thorough dive briefing is provided. They do group divers of similar experience which was a relief. There's nothing worse than travelling from the other side of the world and ending your dive after 40 minutes due to poor buddy assignment. Our dives ranged from 50-70 minutes and everyone had similar SAC rates and temperament.
Quality of Dive Masters: We had three DM's and one Instructor on our boats over the six days. Cat, Scott, Dave and Rachel were excellent. They knew the dive sites well, enjoyed interacting with customers and were good spotters. Most importantly they didn't harass us with respect to air, depth and respected our level of experience as we did theirs.
Post Dive: There is a great bar above the dining area, beers are 5 ringet each and everyone is happy to mingle.
Staff: The local staff are very respectful and friendly. Note, you don't get if you don't ask.
Improvements: They have a strong Dive Master in training program so the DMT's do help out on the boats. Not too sure this is a great idea without the vetting. On my first dive I thought I'd test the waters on their customer service with the male DMT's on board . My first question was "I've misplaced my weights, can you lend a hand?" This was met by a strong glare and no response. I backed it up with "would you mind passing my tank down to me" (second chance). My tank was passed down to me but dropped from a foot and a half from the water with the additional glare. Alarm bells did go off at that stage but I'm glad to say the remainder of the days/dives were with all the DM's which were excellent as previously mentioned. They do need to train their DMT's on customer service as the customer sees no difference between the instructor and trainee both are just seen as representatives of Scuba Junkies. It would be nice to see the DMT's engaging with the customers post dive, this would assist with the learning experience.
In summary, I would recommend Scuba Junkies for those wanting to dive all day and experience Sipadan. Rating 3.75 out of 5. It's bang for your buck and all about the diving. The issue of 2 days diving for one day at Sipadan is common for all operators in the area as each is only given seven permits per day per resort. The local dives are good so no huge downside.
- Also Known As:
- Scuba Junkie Hotel And Diving
- Scuba Junkie Hotel Diving
- Scuba Junkie Semporna