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“Top Resort and good Dives at Sipadan.”

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Sipadan Mabul Resort
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Pulau Mabul
Reviewed June 28, 2013

First of all I like to say that my Family had a great vacation at Mabul Resort. Its a great Resort which fulfil all your needs and is even Family friendly. From the booking to the Airport pickup, transfer via Speedboat to the Resort, check in and the diving everything was well organized and there are no hidden surprises. The rooms are clean whit good aircon (stand alone chalet), full range of sat TV hot shower and comfortable beds. All people are friendly and make you welcome even it is a big operation with lots of guest. The food was okay as expected I would just be more happy that if you have guest from Asia (China) it is not recommended only to offer Seafood and Duck especially when we wrote that we dont like seafood and have allergies in our booking form. We complained and the next day was fine. Thanks a lot for immediate consideration which is not usual. Because it was our sons 2nd Birthday we ask if they could bake a cake for him a few days ahead. I was shocked when during our Dinner suddenly the whole staff brought the cake and played guitar and sing happy birthday for him. You couldnt have done it better! Diving: As mentioned by other Divers most interesting is Sipadan and thanks to the Management that they were able to give us 4 days Sipadan during our 7 days stay. The rest around Mabul and Kapalei not really impressive with tons of garbage on the surface and underwater (you should talk to the other Resorts and clean that up weakly and not once year). Diving in Sipadan is awesome. You see all you need and dont want to see. Thats why I gave only the 4 Point in the rating even the rest was 5. SMART as one of the leading Dive Operators should take more positive attitude in saving the corals and environment and not animating divers and guests to hold on to corals because of strong current. I even saw Reef Hooks and Tank Banger hammering into the Corals which shows already advanced damages. I was shocked that nobody care about that. Not the Guest, not the DM or Instructor. I talked to the DMs about this but not much understanding for my concern. Because of this I couldnt enjoy some of my dives seeing people breaking corals which takes ages to grow. I was very happy that my wife and me were also allocated into Advanced Dive Groups as we both have plenty of dives. Special thanks to Ronny who shows us the Turtle Tomb! Was one of our best dives beside South Point and Barracuda Point. All in all great experience but please guys become environmental friendly and respect the nature and the habitat. Its your income. Special thanks to Jenny who was lovely taking care of our son, E-one for a great movie, Jasny, Rommy, (Macro) King, THE Manager for the plenty of Sipadan permits (you safe our vacation!), Sun and all others who let us have a nice vacation.

Room Tip: Take the Stand alone Chalet.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank ExplorerFEA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 21, 2013

Having dived at numerous resorts around the pacific I am a little hard to please. Sipadan was recommended by my divemaster and the internet spin is that the pinnacle of diving is Sipadan. Well it is good but no better than other spots (Solomons, Palau, PNG, Fiji, Great Barrier Reef, Vanuatu). I am talking here of Sipadan Island, not Mabul or Kapali which are the default dive locations if you don't go or get a permit for Sipadan. I stayed in June which seemed to be a low period and was able to dive Sipadan on 2 days and offered 3 days. Diving on other days around Mabul and Kapali was disappointing. No reefs to speak of, just artificial reef structures that may be impressive one day. Maybe the glut of permits/lack of divers was due to the security situation but in my view diving in this area is only worthwhile if you can get to Sipadan. One thing I found with diving at Sipadan was the schooling of fish. Schools of barracuda, Jacks, pump head parrot fish. Lots of juvenile white tip sharks, turtles. Unless you can get to Sipadan, don't bother.

Having said that about diving, the resort was probably the best one we have been to. The bungalows, grounds, facilities, and particularly the dive setup was top class. Whilst the daily dive planning/allocation was a little rigid/inflexible, it was organised the night before on a whiteboard and the daily operation was A1. The gear storage facilities were superb, Your gear was in the boat and on your tank when you arrived at the boat next morning. All you had to do was check the attachments, sit down and wait to leave.

The resort meals were OK and as expected, Asian oriented. But we were in Asia so we expected food catering for both cultures. Meals were bistro style and whilst not top class restaurant standard were appropriate and more that adequate in our opinion. The staff were very courteous, helpful and provided excellent service when requested. A great resort operation and facility.

Room Tip: Ask for front row ocean view bungalows
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Francis J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2013

I cant say enough about the diving, it was out of this world. The dive staff was tops and the resort staff was always able to answer any questions I had for them. My equipment was taken to and from the dive boat so every morning it was ready to go for the day's dive.

Room Tip: I was a solo traveler so I had a share room which was great for me. My room was cleaned every day...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank CaliforniaDiverdan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2013

Really great place for diving at Sipadan, while Mabul and Kapalai – diving is below average, “housereef” near the oil rig – is place for greens to die (see photos attached). Be aware of the new invention by the SMART management – they sell you a “guarantee” to dive at Sipadan for the price USD 180 (on top of USD12 permit charge by the state). If you do not buy – you do not dive at Sipadan, and Mabul, Kapalai and sea rig is your place then. All is very expensive there, whereas the resort is obsolete, food is average (bbq is good, anyway), fruits are limited, no fresh juices, drinks are terribly expensive… What else to enjoy your stay with SMART? Rude and arrogant management. All they can do – blame your agent you bought the rip from. Important note - this is the place only for divers. Little sandy beach exist, but very shallow see - swimming is impossible. Nothing else to do there.
General impression – vacation is ruined. I will never come back to this place again.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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7  Thank Igor I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2013

We got lucky and got to head to Sipadan island 3 times over 7 days. Normally they only guarantee one pass every 7 days. All the big stuff is over here, schools of Jack, Barracuda, parrot fish. The amount of turtles we saw was unbelievable. Sipadan is a protected island so during peak times you may not be guaranteed a dive there. Each resort receives an allocation of passes per day. If you miss out you can always dive in Mabul or Kapalai, these two spots are better known for their Muck diving, plenty of Nudibranches and Seahorses. The instructors on Mabul were great, got my open water and advanced open water here. A little on the expensive side. The night dives in the house reef were also great!!! I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Charles C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2013

We've spent 4 nights 5 days at the resort, enjoying and diving. The service was great, dive instructors are all professional and helpful, in general all staff is very friendly. Though we didn't even apply for the Sipadan diving permit, the resort got the quotas for us and we had the most fabulous time of our life there. Food is quite good, though I would advice for more variety and more package-included beverages. 9.9999 of 10. Greatly recommended!!!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank annaryabova11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2013

A real tropical paradise, covering about one third of Mabul Island. The large island contains numerous other dive/backpacker joints and a few other resorts, and a large village of locals, so dont expect to be on an isolated island paradise.

The resort is spotlessly clean, and you can stay at either stay at the Water Bungalows (on stilts, and a little more up market), or at the Island resort (where we stayed). After a good look at both sections I really was very happy with the island section, as there is a pool, beach and great sunsets every night, and you can always walk over to the Water Bungalows for a drink and snorkel anytime. The food is buffet style with 6 hot selections (a mix of seafood and non seafood), and cold salads, and often a bbq special for the evening (whole roast lamb on NYE!). The food was good, apart form breakfast which tended to be greasy noodles and weird seafood deep fried dumplings. There was afternoon tea and snacks were always available.

The rooms were fantastic, and we had a standalone chalet, with ocean and beach views, a massive king bed, room safe, outdoor shower (mosquito proof), fridge, and deck. I would strongly suggest bringing your own alcohol supply, esp if you drink spirits as the prices are excessive (20 MR per 15ml shot, plus 8 MR for a can of mixer) and shots are 15ml single, which makes for $17 USD gin and tonics - OUTRAGEOUS! The beers are 24.5 RM for a 640ml + 6% tax.

The diving part was quite professional, with stringent checks on quals but not many sites you need to go much below 20 - 24m so open water is fine. I was swapped around Divemasters a few times, which was good and bad, as each have there own style, but I also tended to go to the same sites repetitively, but if you ask your divemaster they will often change locations. You have to pay extra for everything, apart from weights and tanks (my first dive resort experience, but different to packages on the Great Barrier Reef where a package includes all gear). If you havent dived for 6 months they may also request a refresher dive (costs extra - a bit rude) but if you stand your ground they will waive this requirement. The orientation can be a little confusing so keep asking questions.

The diving itself was great, although some rubbish is around the mabul sites. We rarely went to Kapalai to dive despite the board saying we had one dive there every day. Lots of Moray eels, heaps of turtles, heaps of nudibranchs, leaf fish, stone fish and lion fish around Mabul. The diving at Sipidan was good, but can be a little hit and miss depending on the day, so dont write it off after a single experience. My first day was a little disappointing compared to the hype, but still good. I was lucky enough to get another day and it was truly amazing (ask to go to 'The Drop off' site as it was awe inspiring). Some really strong currents at times. So many turtles and sharks, and huge schools of Jack fish and Barracuda. Make sure you book a Sipidan package otherwise you need to pay 550 RM for 3 dives at Sipidan (Ripoff!).

You can do extra night dives for 50RM per group (excellent value) plus 40 RM for torch rental (per person), and I would highly recommend it as we saw great stuff just at the house reef.

Overall a very relaxing place and good diving, a little expensive, esp the drinks but great accommodation and plenty of food.

Room Tip: Stand alone chalet 132 on the end was perfect, with a view to Sipidan and the beach.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank TimMPerth
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

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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