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“Heaven on Earth” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sipadan Mabul Resort

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Sipadan Mabul Resort
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Pulau Mabul
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Heaven on Earth”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2012

I read review after review for this trip and am SO happy that we finally chose to stay at Sipadan Mabul Resort. Everything was fantastic. We were in one of the stand alone chalets which I would definitely recommend. It had everything you need - VERY comfy beds, toiletries, warm shower and good aircon. The food was also good. Dont expect 5 star western cuisine - but I was never left hungry that is for sure! The resort is also very clean and tehre is a pool and jacuzzi. The highlights were the amazing people - all of staff were so warm and welcoming -Jacki, Jen and Neneng were especially great - and of course SIPADAN! WOW just breathtaking. We saw loads of turtles, schools of barracuda, bumphead parrotfish and white tip reef sharks. So many fish and beautiful corals. It really is a piece of paradise and I feel so priveledged to have been there.

Absolutely no complaints - would go back there in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank DebbieKusel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2012

We had two very nice bungalows with AC and fridge. The whole area is cleaned and raked constantly. All the staff is smiling and friendly. You can go snorkeling at the water bungalows (or have a drink there).
The diving is very well organized for the divers as well as for the snorkelers which is not always the case in diving places. We could all go to sipadan on the same day which was great.
There was always snacks and drinks available. Buffet was in good quantity and you could find something for everyone. The dive master (King) was excellent and showed us so many things.
There was an atmosphere of trust (not with price list of everything which is in the room like you find now) which is also not so common nowadays.
There are nasty stingrays near the beach so you cannot swim there, I think that is the only drawback.
I would love to go back.

Room Tip: The deluxe bungalows are really bigger and woth it.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ChineseTea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
32 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 7, 2012

Jewel of the island. Great dive spot. Staff are friendly and service are good. Will come back again...

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sharlinhms
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Zealand
Level Contributor
27 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 5, 2012

We had a family holiday at this resort the end of August 2011. We were so looking forward to diving at Sipidan but could only do so by paying extra as we were only there a few nights. We had a week to see Sabah so couldn't spend 5 days on the island. 2 of us had poisoning which didn't help either. Diving at Sipidan was amazing and we still talk about it for 2 reasons. One - the diving was just fantastic and Two -my daughter's camera was stoen out of her bag on the dive boat when everyone was in the water except boat staff. The management of the SMART Resort didn't want to know and after several conversations, which got us nowhere, we had to leave. Rude management at a resort is not the best advertisment for visitors. Have never heard from them since either. When at Mt Kinabalu later on our trip we met 2 divers who were at Sipidan the same day as us and someone else had had their camera stolen the same day. So fellow divers,when you go out to Sipidan diving, check your bags when you come out of the water after each dive. Our dive master was fantastic and very helpful but it spoils a holiday when your camera is stolen.

Room Tip: The chalets were lovely and the airconditioning was great.
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
16 Thank Kiwi1951
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Malaysia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 29, 2011

It is an isolated island in the middle of no where (Mabul Island). As if you are mainly into diving only, you may consider to go for their Standard room which i found it is too basic for ME (since i am not diver but leisure). For those honeymooners or leisure traveller, you may consider to top up for more to stay in Stand-Alone chalet or move to their next door MABUL WATER BUNGALOW (it is realy fantastic) which is the same management.
The meals serve are basic and the activities provided is limited apart from snorkeling and diving. The beach for Mabul SMART site are okei and the water at Mabul WATER BUNGALOW site are fabulous!
The cons are the resort does not have any TV in room and the island attached to a village, hence you will expect to see the locals walking around in the resort BUT they are friendly!

Room Tip: Standard room has basic ammenities which i think is more suitable for those interested only into the...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank kwok4303
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
belgium
Level Contributor
143 reviews
71 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2011

Not cheap, but certainly worth it. Beautiful 'Robinsonlike' beach.
Excellent snorkeling and scuba diving!
We have seen a lot of species (sharks, rays,turtles,...)
Very friendly staff.
At night we played soccer and volleyball with them on the beach.
Very tasty Meals! Super!

Room Tip: Ask for a beachfront room
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ramanando
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2011

We stayed at SMART at the beginning of October for 5 days/4 nights and stayed in a standalone chalet. We were able to dive Sipadan one of those days and the other around Mabul and Kapalai. The overall experience was average and the reason for this is that I think expectations should be managed about the property with regards to the accommodation and the dive centre. One should note that this a fairly large dive resort, at full capacity this means 80+ guests at least.

Accommodation: It was clean and should be considered as budget to mid-range. The standalone chalets are a fair -size. Do remember to bring your own amenities like soap/shampoo as what they provide is pretty basic. Bathroom was clean, and for the standalone chalets the shower is sectioned off (which I'm not sure is the case for other rooms), but one of the walls the tiles were all cracked and it ran the length of the room. I would definitely recommend if you have choice to book Mabul Water Bungalows instead if available. (Unfortunately for us was fully booked at the time we went.)

The chalets are in two rows, so would recommend if you're able to, is to ask for the ones in the front row as then the view is right onto the beach. (Otherwise in the second you would face directly onto the back of the room in front of you.)

Food: For the number of guests that the resorts accommodates, they did a very decent job. It was a fair selection and their bbq night was a very pleasant dinner.

Diving: While we very much enjoyed diving at Sipadan and also the muck-diving in the surrounding area, we were a bit disappointed with how the diving was managed. (In other reviews, we saw that other guests had very positive comments about their experience. Perhaps in our case we were a bit unlucky or with a full-house it became more difficult for the resort to manage.)

During our stay, we went diving with three different divemasters and found the quality varied among them. (Again, not sure if this is a reflection of the number of divers at SMART at the time.) This isn't to say they weren't experienced or qualified, they definitely knew their stuff - but there were problems in managing the divers and given what seemed to be a wide-span of different dive experiences among the dive group, the dive briefings should have been better managed. For example, while diving in Sipadan some of the group grabbed the coral and actually used it as a means to move about and manage their buoyancy, one diver dropped below 30m and no one could get her attention while she continually descended - one of her friends grabbed her as the DM tried to continually to get her attention with no response, (apparently didn't know that her meter gauge could tell her depth which we overheard her say to a friend following the dive), and there was continual noise as there was always someone tapping their tank during the dives. In addition, during one dive alone, 4 tanks were not properly set and slipped out of the BCDs during the dive.

Given these varying experiences, I think it would have been useful for the divemasters to have provided a more full fulsome briefing of what the dive would be like, beyond just stating the max depth and bottom time, and ensured that everyone did a proper buddy check rather then rushing everyone to jump in.

As others have noted, the permit allocation process is quite opaque. SMART does not guarantee that you get to go unless you stay for a minimum of one week. (In the future if we do go to Mabul/Sipadan again, would prefer to stay somewhere you know you are guaranteed to go at least once - otherwise you feel you're a bit at the mercy of the resort. Though SMART was clear when booking that they are unable to guarantee, so that we knew.)

The diving around Mabul and Kapalai was pleasant and you see quite a bit of macro life and also turtles. To note there was a bit of garbage around some of the sites - in particular the site just under Seaventures, there were plastic bags, bottles and coffee tins.

Overall, we were very happy to be able to dive Sipadan and very much enjoyed that experience. Though we would not stay at SMART again.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank song1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sipadan Mabul Resort

Property: Sipadan Mabul Resort
Address: P O Box 15571 Kota Kinabalu, Pulau Mabul 88865, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Mabul
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Pulau Mabul
Number of rooms: 42
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
SIPADAN-MABUL RESORT (SMART) is situated at Mabul Island overlooking the well-known Sipadan Island. It is a dive destination resort that began its modest operations back in 1993 and has since grown into a well-established and reputable resort as it is today. SMART has 42 land-based chalets (22 unit stand-alone detached chalets, 18 unit standard semi-detached chalets and 2 unit suite chalets) which can accommodate up to 84 guests at any one time. All chalets are built from native materials of Borneo, mostly twin-bedded, equipped with mosquito screens, air-conditioning and come with attached bathrooms with hot shower facilities as well as free Wi-Fi internet access in the room. Other facilities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi whirlpool spa, large dining hall and bars. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sipadan Mabul Hotel Pulau Mabul

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