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“Thanks all for making my time spend at SMART very nice !!”

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Smart Divers Resort
Leiderdorp, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Thanks all for making my time spend at SMART very nice !!”
Reviewed March 21, 2013

I was traveling on my own the SMART people made me feel very welcome. Thanks!
The resort organises diving and snorkling, which was done well organised. The divemasters are well known to the unique underwater marinelife.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Appie1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Stone, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed February 17, 2013

Mabul island is on the east coast of Borneo. It takes about 1.5 hours to walk around and has 2000 inhabitants, mostly fishermen and their families. Smart divers isn't the only dive outfit, there are at least three others.

Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur is 11 hours and then KL to Tawau another 2 hours 45.
From Tawau to port of Sempora is 1.5 hours by minibus and then 45 mins by speedboat to Mabul. All in all it will take the best part of 24 hours to get there.

Don't be put off by the weather forecast from the UK. It was appalling for us in early Feb 2013 and we wondered what we had done. It turned out to be sunshine all but for one day out of twelve.

The island is idyllic and if you can see past the less than perfect bathrooms of the chalets it's a fabulous setting. The water bungalows are a far higher standard but if you are here for the diving the chalets are fine. No tea and coffee making facilities in the room but we asked for a kettle and then got tea, coffee and milk from the restaurant. There is a fridge and TV in the room the BBC World on channel 512. No hair drier though. The sockets are UK three pin square.
You won't need any cash except for tips at the end of your stay. Tee shirts and shorts is all you will wear daytime and evening.
The dive centre is very well organised and the hardest thing you will do all week is pull your wet suit on, everything else is done for you. After one dive we knew how everything worked.
Dives around Mabul and Kapalai are two in the morning and one in the afternoon. You will return to the island after each dive, an hours break between the morning dives and 2.5 hours for lunch.
Diving Sipadan Island ( 15 minutes by speedboat) is awesome. The breaks between dives are similar but you spend them on Sipadan Island where the guys will prepare drinks and lunch for you. There are toilets, shade and showers on the island ( no toilet paper though ).
The visibility is less than we are used to in the Red Sea but the amount and variety of things to see means it's not an issue.
We were told that we could expect one trip to Sipadan and anything more would be a bonus. In the event, because the resort was relatively quiet, we dived Sipadan every other day ( 6 times in total). We may have been very fortunate that we were here during Chinese New Year ( 90% of the visitors are Chinese) so there were few divers. It's also a less popular time of year because of the weather. This might explain why we had more Sipadan dives than we expected.
In summary this has been the best diving so far with something new on virtually every dive. Suitable for experienced and novice divers alike. The accommodation and food is good although the Water Bungalows are better. Staff are friendly and helpful. Overall we were very impressed and would recommend it.

Room Tip: Detached chalets are best. Try to get one facing the sea and not on the second row back.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Paul S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taipei, Taiwan
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed January 23, 2013

This is the best diving point en earth. I think that no place can beat here. Smart is a relaxed resort with good service, although their accommodation is not so qualified. The bungalow is kind of old, so maybe you'll get up with some mosquitos in the morning.

We met their boss in the restaurant, and he was very kind to talk to us about his career here. He is very humer~ I decided to come back here again every year.

Room Tip: The bungalow upon the sea is the best
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank lindalove70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hong kong
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed December 2, 2012

Great diving, but this “resort” is taking advantage of the endless flow of tourists. The value for money concept is nil here – 5 Star prices with 2 Star rooms! Old, dirtly, dilapidated bathrooms…more like a summer camp than a resort. The staff are friendly, but not if you have any problems – we had some intransigent arguments with staff about a number of issues. The grounds are nice but overcrowded and there are refugee camps on the island making a “luxury” holiday leaving a sour taste…Stay on Kapilai rather than Mabul. If you choose Mabul, stay at one of the backpacker dives (true dives…), and save a ton of money. Great diving nevertheless, but at a cost.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank nicnicHongKong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Appin, New South Wales, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 21, 2012

This was my first trip to an island and it was absolutely perfect. It was better then seen on the documentaries and television shows. The resort wasn't exactly 5 star as we stayed on the land section but it was comfortable. No TV or internet but it isn't needed when relaxing. The beach was just outside with a pool available and free usage of the kayaks. The staff were beyond friendly and helpful.
There was a buffet everyday for each meal of the day and the food quality was exceptional. I will definitely return here on my next trip.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Caroline Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richardson, Texas
Level 6 Contributor
251 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2012

I just returned from my first trip to Mabul island and stayed at the Sipadan Mabul Resort or SMART for short. (all the dive boats are called SMART) This is a very nice resort with two distinct sections, the Water Bungalows (see pic) which are beautiful and expensive or the Chalets which are nice and reasonable. You are free to roam on both areas for diving and to enjoy a beer. After a very confusing introduction by Jackie (greeter and dive instructor) we enjoyed our stay in the SMART Chalets. The Chalet was functional with A/C and a decent bathroom. The Chalet open air dining area was nice and the food was very good. Ben, the manager and Arena were very helpful and got us one of the 14 daily SMART permits to dive on Sipadan island. If you travel to Malaysia and dive, I would highly recommend the SMART resort!

Room Tip: The best dive resort on Mabul island for diving at Sipadan!
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ken R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miri
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2011

Me and my bf have visited to Mabul, Sipadan & Kapalai in the August and we stayed 5days 4 nights at SMART Mabul Divers Resort. We have choose to stay at the standard chalet. The room no doubt is very basic, no TV. But very spacious. 1 Thing i like most is it has a balcony that facing to the beach! There are 3 different types of accommodation available in SMART- Stand alone chalet, Standard Chalet or Water Bungalow. If you don't might to pay a little big higher, then you should go for Water Bungalow!

The food is ok. At least 1 BBQ dinner per week. Free flow of drinks. And we manage to get the permission to go to Sipadan Island on our 2Nd day but we have to pay an Extra RM70 per pax as the management claim that is the charges to buy the pass from another resort.

Besides than diving and snorkeling, the other activities are including kayaking, volleyball, cycling or visit the nearby village. There are 2 souvenir shops in the resort but suggested you to walk to the nearby village to search for the local handmade goods.

Last but not least, thanks to the management & staff for the special beach side dinner arrangement. Both of us like it very much! What to be sure, we will be back again!!


Tips to get for the Sipadan island entry permission: Avoid to go during peak season and school holiday.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Chewyinc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Smart Divers Resort

Property: Smart Divers Resort
Address: Mabul, Pulau Mabul, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Mabul
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 10 Specialty Lodging in Pulau Mabul
Number of rooms: 45
Also Known As:
Smart Divers Hotel Pulau Mabul

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