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Scuba Junkie Mabul Beach Resort
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Reviewed March 25, 2013 via mobile

My sister and I have just returned from a fantastic week on Mabul Island with Scuba Junkie having completed both our Open Water PADI and Advanced Open Water courses. From the beginning of email correspondence some months ago to our actual time spent on Mabul, Scuba Junkie staff could not have been more helpful. Both office and resort staff were great and our dive instructor Mario was excellent-we had a great time, learnt loads and always felt 100% safe whilst diving. Excellent value for money, lovely accommodation, food and entertainment. Plus all their work on reef conservation and helping the local people benefit from tourism. Can't recommend Scuba Junkie highly enough!

  • Stayed: March 2013
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Thank Sarahaitch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

We recently stayed at the Scuba Junkie resort on Mabul. We booked our stay online and they (Mike in particular) were nothing but helpful in advising us in advance on the various transfers we would need to be able to get from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau, Semporna and then to the island - in fact, he had a whole file when we got there full of our email exchange but always took the time to respond promptly answering all our questions. One thing i would watch out for however is the transfer time when leaving the island and aiming for a flight out of Tawau as we literally got to the airport with less than 45 minutes before take off so I would suggest either taking an earlier boat out the previous day for an afternoon flight the next day or that Scuba Junkie might want to organise the boat transfer out slightly earlier on in the morning for a same day flight.

Once on the island, the resort was fantastic. We had a great room with aircon and our own private balcony within easy reach of both the resort, the beach and the jetty. The staff there are all incredibly friendly and helpful, both in the bar, the eating area, the dive equipment
area, etc. The divemasters were fantastic - really lovely enthusiastic people who could not do enough for you to make the diving a truly memorable experience. Cat, Dave and Khai in particular stood out. They all know their stuff really well and are expert in hunting down the smallest of sea creatures in the murkiest of conditions and knowing what conditions are the best for certain dive sites on Sipadan. You also have an earlier start for Sipadan than other resorts and get 4 dives on Sipadan as opposed to the 3 that other dive shops do so i would definitely recommend Scuba Junkie for this. The resort is also v eco friendly which is good to see, with lots of stuff around recycling, not cooking fish due to non sustainable fishing practices, etc. something which perhaps some of the nearby resorts could also do with following.

The only criticisms i have are firstly of the management. Although the other staff were all lovely, the managers/senior people could perhaps do with putting a smile on their faces from time to time and remembering that they have paying guests rather than the rather patronising and brusque way with which we were dealt both on check in and departure.

Also, if you are a non diver travelling with divers, you may find yourself at a loose end for substantial periods of the day, unless you are happy with a book on the beach or sitting in the bar as there isnt much to do and the resort is pretty much empty during the day whilst the divers are out - not a problem for me as a keen diver who was out diving for 4 out of the 5 days we were there, but i heard from other non divers that they would have liked to have been able to do more.

The only other aspect is something which is not directly attributable to Scuba Junkie and is something which they are working tirelessly at trying to resolve - which is the never ending battle of trying to keep the surrounding beach areas clean. They organise regular clean ups and are constantly trying to educate the local Mabul people about not littering the beaches. The locals do not seem to understand this unfortunately and so we occasionally found broken glass and litter both on the beach and in the sea - which isnt very pleasant in such otherwise beautiful surroundings. Key message here tis hat they need help to keep the environment safe and clean for both the guests and the sea life so that we can carry on experiencing this wonderful resort and its facilities for years to come.

Room Tip: Definitely choose a room with air con - it is worth the extra money.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Beetroothead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

My husband and I stayed here three nights whilst diving with Scuba Junkie (I've posted a separate review about the diving, which was excellent). This is the most expensive accommodation we've had during our two months in Malaysia and New Zealand and, to be frank, it was nothing special.

We had a double superior room, which was spacious, with a comfy bed and clean sheets. It was lovely to have a duvet rather than a sheet with a blanket (which we've had in so many other places). The bathroom was also spacious, but it was really smelly - like a bad drain or something. I noticed that there was a bolt both sides of the bathroom door - probably to keep the smell out if you're in the bedroom (we kept it bolted the entire time). The room was clean and it had aircon, and a relaxing hammock out on the balcony area. It was quite noisy at night as our room backed onto the locals' "village". They are karaoke lovers - this wears a bit thin after a while. There is no safety deposit box in the room which is a pain.

The resort food isn't anything to write home about. It was okay for the first day, but come the third day I'd had enough and couldn't wait to get back to the mainland. There is nothing but water and coffee/ tea at breakfast time - no juice, and neither was there cereal or milk. I don't have the stomach for cooked food at breakfast time. The only alternative was toast and there is one toaster for the entire resort........enough said. For the price you pay you would expect more.

The beach front at the resort is littered with debris thanks to the gypsy village located right next to the resort. There are nappies and other unmentionables floating in what would otherwise be beautiful waters. We were accosted more than once by children begging for money, and witnessed the locals using the beach as a toilet. Obviously this is not Scuba Junkie's fault and I know that they are involved in beach clean ups, and presumably trying to educate the locals about littering this paradise. It is not however the "paradise" that their website advertises. If you're not diving you wouldn't want to spend time here.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Swansea_Girl_1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2013

I have visited Siapdan and Mabul quite many times during the last decade or so. I have then stayed with the more posh resorts, which I must admit, over the years increased in price and decreased not so much maybe in service but more in how fun the guides seemed to find their job. With the permit system in place I spent a couple of visits really annoyed with the lack of predictability in when to go to Sipadan, and decided to simply bring my business somewhere else. However, being an underwater photographer, I wanted to reshoot some shots I didn´t really get on my previous b´visit, and decided to make a final visit. Googling around I found Scuba Junkies, which seemed to offer reasonable services in between the rock bottom places and the posh resorts. Furthermore, as I am a single traveller, in contrast to the last resort I visited, they were very reasonable with the single supplement, which is only there if you choose to have a bungalow. In dorms there is no such thing. And, finally, Sipadan days were not as many as I would have liked (I changed my mind about that later, but still) but it was clearly stated how many days I got at Sipadan and I could affect which days that should be, which was a big difference to the lottery system I earlier have had to accept.

How was it then. First of all, there were a couple of things such as a rinse tank aboard I would have liked, most of which is related to the big cameras I lugg around. I also prefer to dive with Nitrox, which was not available. However, the staff was used to handle cameras so it worked out well, and dives are seldom in the range where Nitrox really is needed. And I must say that apart for those minor camera related niggles, the stay was absolutely lovely. The staff was very friendly, and, which I enjoy a lot, loved diving. Several even dove on their off days, and even the owner and manager on several occasions joined the dives. There were constant discussions on what critters we actually saw during the day, and several of the guides I dove with were really excelllent spotters, besides being great people. The food was good, there was real bread most mornings, the bar very nice with reasonable prices, the bungalows were nice and clean. Being kind of on the old side of most of the guests around, it was great fun to meet a bunch of younger people travelling the world. The diving organisation worked amazingly well considering the amount of people involved in it. Tanks were well filled, boats worked, the jetty staff were quick to get stuff in and aout of boats, the transfer worked very well and the bill was clear and with no weirdo extras. In conclusion, this turned out not to be my last visit in the area. I am planning a visit already next year, but this time I will stay a little bit longer.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled solo
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Thank BentC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 3, 2013

We really enjoyed our stay on Mabul Island and our diving/snorkelling experiences with Scuba Junkie. The cabins are lovely and clean, and the resort is very picturesque. The food is great (I really like the policy of not serving fish until it's caught more sustainably!) and there's a nice bar upstairs for relaxing. It’s certainly a great place to chill. For an anxious beginner diver such as myself, I felt like I was in safe hands and for my more experienced partner, diving on Sipadan was certainly the highlight!

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