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“Only the accomodation is good”

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Billabong Scuba Homestay
Gili Air
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Only the accomodation is good”
Reviewed April 10, 2013

The place is really nice. We really enjoyed the place. Of course, you don't expect a 5 stars resort but it was clean and fresh water.. The food was amazingly good and there was a lot!! No complaint about the accomodation.
About diving that's a different story. I had my own equipment so I cannot say about their gears. But the diving staff is unprofessional. No Briefing, no checks,... They seem unaware about the idea of safety. And the worst thing for me, was that they don't care!!! I came to Mabul because that's the best place in the world for muck diving. But never, they will try to show you something... Only the obvious thing ( frogfish, nudibranchs,...) and really you can find them alone. I wanted to see the small creatures but the guides go too fast....
Anyway, If you don't have too much money and you re quite a good diver, you can go with them. But if you re a beginner, it can be dangerous...
Fortunately, the dives are really amazing and you have a good experience but only because of the marine life.
PS: try to buy a fish book and interact with your divers about the crazy marine life you have there

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank NanarGili
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (29)
Date | Rating
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed March 21, 2013

Stayed with BIllabong while at Mabul Island diving. My friend was doing his cert and I was fun diving. My friend's instructor didn't seem very thorough and when I went fun diving with a newly certified student it showed. I think a lot of vacation destination dive shops are under pressure to allow dumb students to pass since everyone is obviously here to dive Sipadan which no school would waste permits on a class. Anyway, the guy that was certified barely seemed to know how to swim, he actually looked like he was drowning with a regulator in his mouth, that's how bad he was.

Once you get past the usual bad divers that you encounter everywhere, Billabong was a good value. My dive master was cool, a local with longer hair tied back. He pointed out lots of stuff and allowed time to take photographs. I would dive with him again. I had different guides when I went diving in Sipadan and they were great as well.

If you want to add an extra fun dive I think it was 90 ringgit. I think they try and say 100 first but the owner told me 90 in the office back in Semporna and when I mentioned that the staff had no problem agreeing to the price. You can pay by credit card when you get back to Semporna if you're running low on cash but they do add a surcharge, 3% I think.

Food was served buffet style. There was plenty and I enjoyed eating it and it seemed everyone else did too. Endless coffee and tea which is great since you'll probably spend a good amount just chillin out in the common area reading or chatting with other guests.

I stayed in the most basic room, a couple of twin beds and a fan. There was a rat that snuck in through a hole it had gnawed in the wall at night. The first 2 nights it didn't bother me so much. He was scurrying around on the floor trying to steal my oreos off the little desk in there. He actually somehow did keep getting on the desk and knocking stuff off. Yes it sounds annoying and it was. Finally I told Vanessa because I figured my last night should be more peaceful. The employees were quick to try and remedy the issue. They brought in a piece of wood to block the hole and everything seemed like it would be fine except that night the rat clocked in quite a few hours trying to make a new hole. [--]. It was a loud night and I didn't sleep that much but I had just did 3 dives at Sipadan that day so I didn't care that much.

If you think my life got better check out my next night's stay at the Sipadan Inn.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank m c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 11, 2013

Me and my girlfriend stayed 4 days and 3 nights at Billabong scuba diving centre Mabul. The basic room that comes in the (diving) package is very basic. We did not expect something different on forehand, so this was okay, only a cockroach in the room is never a friendly visitor. They do have better rooms though, but these where expensive and did not suit our backpackers budget. The food (breakfast/lunch/diner) was unexpectedly good, compliments to the kitchen. The coffee and thee where free, so was the wifi. But what made our stay very disappointing was our dive master Tony, a local cranky guy who is not suited for the job. He isn't interesting in what you do or where your from he is there merely to make money and play darts with is buddies. He wont fill in your logbook, only after multiple requests he is willing to put his signature. His attitude made our stay a lot less nice, a pity because with so many beautiful dive spots around its hard to imagine some one to be so cranky all the time. Our advise go to another dive school, we heard some good stories about Scuba Junkie, their accommodation looked nice, but we haven't dived with them. A dive at Billabong takes 45 min, it does not make a difference if nobody is low on air, I went one time up with 110 left in the tank after a shallow dive. They do this because they need to schedule the lunch in between. We heard that Scuba Junky dives last 60+min. We did not visit other dive centres at Mabul, so we cant compare. But we will not visit Billabong again.

  • Stayed March 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank polakje
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berlin, Germany
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2013

This is an excellent, well organized dive base! Don't be shocked from the shady office in Semporna it gets a lot better on Mabul island! The dive base is very well run by Vanessa who takes very good care of the guests. They work with a mixed bunch of divemasters. Local crew which are great because they know the divesites better than anyone else and western divemasters and instructors who teach also a little bit more of the fun of diving.

Rooms:
- We had a basic room, which was basic but clean and with comfy beds. If you wanna pay more you can have rooms with private bath, aircon or even an lovely bungalow wit your own porch.
Food:
The food is lovely. They just brought in a new Chef from KL who taught the locals some delicious new meals, so there is a lot of variety on the daily menue.
Diving:
The equipment is pretty new and in good condition as well as the boats with big 250ps engines which make a lot of fun while boating out to the divesites.
Location:
Personally I think this is the best budget choice on Mabul because it offers a lot of common outdoor space as well as the sunset bridge with great views on Mabul. The others budget places seem to be much more cramped together with less personal space.

So go here if you want to dive and save some money on accomendation because you rather spend it underwater. If you add some great fun with the local crew and the foreign divers then this is your place.
Don't go here if you expect a fancy, honeymoon getaway. If you want that you can checkin at the dive resorts on Mabul which cost at least double the money.
We spend 5 nights here an had a great time.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Mister_Zed_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kenya
Level 6 Contributor
285 reviews
73 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 175 helpful votes
Reviewed February 23, 2013

I've just spent four nights at Billabong and have so much to say about it - first, the staff at both the Semporna office and the Mabul homestay are warm, professional, and easy to talk to. My trip to Billabong got off on a rocky start; I was instructed to go to the office at 7:30; I got there a little early and waited outside the locked office until 7:40. We didn't actually leave the office until 8:00, and then didn't leave Semporna until 8:15! This all made me a little nervous about what the homestay was going to be like; luckily, once I got to Mabul, things got a lot better. The rooms are basic, but comfortable and clean. If you're a tall person, you may have a hard time fitting on the small beds! Billabong has hot water, but there's only one working shower for at least a dozen people (if you're staying in a 'basic' room); this was problematic at times. I thought the food was good - it's basically the same thing every day, but still tasty - and there's free coffee, tea, and drinking water all day. The best part about my stay at Billabong was interacting with the diving staff. I did my open water certification here, and my instructor was incredible. She (Luzia) taught in two different languages, neither of which was her first language! She was remarkably patient and explained things very clearly; she was safety-conscious at all times and just fun to be with. In fact, I'd say the same of the other dive leaders I got the chance to interact with. The value at Billabong, at least for diving packages, can't be beat!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Shannon S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gent, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed February 5, 2013

We did a package deal for 6 dive's.
The dive's where great and lots of fun.
The acomodation is basic but good enough. Food ok but could be better of more different kinds.
The divemaster or instructures where to me associal and that was not so nice but at the end that didn't spoiled my trip.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Maarten W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mackay
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2013 via mobile

I stayed here for 4 nights and did 10 dives with them in total. I completed my Padis open water diving course with them and my instructor was very professional. He was a great teacher and helped answer all my questions and help settle my nerves. Billabong is only small so it wasn't overly busy and was nice and quiet and peaceful. All the staff were helpful and professional and made me feel at home.
The equipment was good- the wetsuits may need to be upgraded soon but other than that no complaints. Dive groups were only small which made it more enjoyable and there was only 2 of us completing our course with our instructor and a special instructor for othe guests.
Accommodation was ok... My room needed some repairs and it didn't really phase the staff but you get what you pay for. The prices were good!
The owner organised everything for me and it was easy to do with great communication and the location on the island is perfect!

Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
Helpful?
2 Thank cassiec117
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Billabong Scuba Homestay

Property: Billabong Scuba Homestay
Address: Lot 28, 1st floor, block E, Seafront, Pulau Mabul, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Mabul
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 10 Specialty Lodging in Pulau Mabul
Number of rooms: 20
Also Known As:
Billabong Scuba Hotel Pulau Mabul

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