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“Stunning location, shame about the lodge.”

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Mari Mari Mantanani Backpacker Lodge
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
43 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Stunning location, shame about the lodge.”
Reviewed November 7, 2012

Firstly, it's an hour by boat and the 'kid' driving it drove with it only on full throttle. Whilst I would normally enjoy something like this, my spine didn't as the hundred or so jolts that occurred when the boat hit the waves was unbelievably painful....and I'm in good health and mountain bike all over regular. My girlfriends back was sore for the next few days but the driver of the boat was only bothered about having fun....despite repeated requests from a colleague to slow down, which he ignored. Obviously he was standing up so his legs were taking the impact whereas all the passengers were sitting down so their spine was taking the impact. I wouldn't be surprised if he tips the thing soon. The beach and sea is stunning, you can't fault it. The food at the place though is pretty poor. A lot of things on the menu they never had, including bread for 3 days and when I ordered a BBQ chicken this had came out of the freezer, deep fried and squirted with some BBQ sauce. The chicken wasn't cooked though so they never charged me. Not really the point but be careful with the food. Even the local dishes were very bland and lacked flavour and nothing for you to add flavour....no salt, pepper, soy sauce etc on the table. I know it's an hour away by boat from the mainland but the boat is picking up travellers daily....and I was eating better food at 4500 metres high in the Himalayas so don't really see any excuse and I'm not a fussy traveller or eater.
Had to make a quick phone call when there so asked if I could use their phone and they charged me MR3 per minute (exorbitant by Borneo standards) and this was not long after paying over MR1000. Workmen were there building a new beach hut and they started hammering at 7.30am and finished at 5.30pm. Nice for relaxation! In a nutshell, this place could be amazing but was very disappointed....and it wasn't cheap. Just for the record, the return journey was much better, the driver was a lot more careful and his colleague let me use his phone for free on arrival at the jetty at Kota Belud and couldn't be more helpful - completely the opposite to the crazy kid driving going out there. And if anyone is after a Dragons Den pitch....open up a chiropractor business on Mantanani.....you'll make a fortune!!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank graham07930
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Copenhagen, Denmark
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed September 23, 2012

The island is beautiful and it's ok to visit - although unfortunately with plastic waste around the beaches. However, we were not that pleased with Mari Mari Backpacker Lodge. Transportation there was good and organised, and we got the hut as promised, which was actually ok - but very basic. We had shared toilets/baths and they were really poor and often disgusting. The food there was really bad, and after 3 days of eating there we had enough of that. The worst part was where one of us got a bad attack of bed-bugs! The place is really not that cheap, so that's not even the excuse. And any activity you do there (i.e. snorkling) was pretty expensive. We would not recommend it.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank FrederikHelene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Pulau Mantanani Besar hotels

Perth, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2012

Mari mari backpackers is in a really beautiful location, but the location is marred by the terrible rubbish that is constantly in the water and washed up on the beach. The backpackers itself is fine, clean basic and lovely views. The food is pretty basic and not very well done. I would suggested taking fruit to the island, or else you are just stuck to a limited oily menu. We really enjoyed our stay here, it was very relaxing and once we got over the shock of how damaged the coral reefs were we enjoyed the snorkeling.

Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
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4 Thank Soihok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighton
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2012

I choose Mari Mari Backpackers after reading a recommendation in the lonely planet. Yes, Mari Mari is on Mantanani Island which is beautiful and the water is pretty much crystal clear for snorkelling but.......this is not a backpacker resort, everybody here has booked through a travel agent (Traverse Tours/Riverbug) normally for a 2D1N or 3D2N package and the resort caters for Asian/European couples and families so independent travels be aware you are unlikely to meet any fellow backpackers here and will need some good books to keep you entertained! I stayed in the dorm room, 60RM per night which was basic but comfortable. The food was average and limited choice available, you could easily work your way through the menu in a couple of days. There was wifi internet available (chargable) and snorkelling/diving activities if you felt more energetic! The was quite a bit of rubbish washed up on the beach each morning which was a shame, the staff did their best to sweep it into a pile however it was not collected so was visually quite unappealing. Overall I would recommend this place for couples and families mainly looking for a short relaxing stay involving sunbathing and maybe some activities. Also worth noting there is a gap year organisation called 'camp mantanani' next door, expect some music until 10/11pm ish and their generator noise (which is on all day).

Room Tip: Try and get a room that don't back onto 'camp mantanani' next door for a more quiet and...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
6 Thank Brighton85Brighton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2012

this place is incredible, if you are looking for few days far from everything with absolutely breathtaking views, then stop looking and go to mantanani. The bungalows are basic but you wouldn't want it any other way as the day anybody starts building a 5* hotel, then the magic will be gone as soon as anybody inaugurate the newly built swimming pool. There are only 12 bungalows on the resort meaning there's only 30 lucky people that can stay there and that's what makes it pretty special. I've stayed there during 5 nights and enjoyed every moment of it. the sea view is breathtaking, the water is turquoise and there is definitely a relaxing feel about this place. I have done my open water PADI there and the DiveMaster (Daniel) was really great, very professional & very fun as well. I have really enjoyed doing my PADI there! The dive lodge, which is located on the other island, is also worth seeing as you have the best view ever :)
2 things from previous reviews - the only reason it only has 4 stars and not 5 is about the garbage. it's true that as soon as you leave mari mari backpackers to explore the island, there is rubbish everywhere but unfortunately, I'm not sure there is much they can do as I think it's coming from the sea. The mari mari beach is quite clean and I have seen few times the staff cleaning the beach.
The journey there by boat was really peaceful but I guess it's also linked to the fact we were lucky with the sea as there wasn't much wind/waves. They have a giant waterproof bag to put all the luggage & bags so in case the sea is a bit rougher, your stuff don't get wet.
Last thing - as mentioned many times, electricity only works at night - which is not a problem at all. There was that one night where the generator had some issues which resulted into not having any light before 2 hours after sunset. I don't think it happens often but if you're slightly worried in the dark, it may be worth bringing a torch lamp with you just in case.
If you are still unsure about the place, I can only tell you I had the best few days there, from the sea views to the diving, the relaxing on the beach, the staff and the weather, this place is truly a hidden gem and has a very very special feel about it. Part of what makes it so special is the feeling of not having crowds of tourists to 'share' this amazing place with you - which is truly hard to find! If I ever go back to Borneo, I would definitely look out for this place :)

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
28 Thank Doris D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Semporna, Malaysia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed April 20, 2012

When you feels wanna have some rest, escape from city environment, enjoy the diving, having nice sunset view, early morning see the Kinabalu peak, Mantanani Island is the place to visit!!

It takes, 1hours 30mins by bus from KK city to reach the jetty. It takes 45mins to reach the island. For those have a seasick, better have the pill before you jump to the boat because the sea condition is a bit rough kinda feels like riding a horse... yeepiiii!!

When arrived to the island, the water is crystal clear, nice beach eventhough many drifted wood.

For the diving activities, the dive sites not bad. But not many special stuff can be spotted. fuh... but have nice corals, coral fishes,

The staff was very friendly, for me I am a solo traveler so friendly staff make me comfortable and they were very helpful.

During night time, it's very silent and peaceful, very relaxing!

If I have the chance, I would like to come and visit Mantanani Island again soon!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
25 Thank MsMangalis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nottinghamshire, England
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed April 17, 2012

I can agree with the points about the greta location and the quirky but great accomodation. You can always tay in a 5 star hotel. Enjoy the views. Yes the beach could be cleaned up a bit more often ,but we found the staff (as apparently everywhere in Malaysia ) were most helpfuln and smiley.
Easter sunday night was a great laugh-an egg hunt was held with prizes for the numbered eggs ranging from fridge magnets to a diving session. This was followed by free beers !
Yes the breakfast can be variable but just ask what they have got and go with the flow.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
24 Thank kevthekamper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mari Mari Mantanani Backpacker Lodge

Property: Mari Mari Mantanani Backpacker Lodge
Address: Kampong Mantanani, Pulau Mantanani Besar, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kota Belud District > Pulau Mantanani Besar
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Pulau Mantanani Besar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Backpackers Lodge on Pulau Mantanani Besar Island in Sabah Borneo. We provide twin shared rooms with attached bathroom, twin shared rooms with common bathroom, and dormitory rooms. Hot water shower is available during island's regular electricity supply time (6.00pm to 6.00am).Our dive center - Mari Mari Dive Center is a PADI authorized dive resort. PADI scuba diving certifications are also available.Best for scuba diving, snorkeling or just lay back and relax the white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mari Mari Mantanani Backpacker Hotel Pulau Mantanani Besar
Mari Mari Mantanani Backpacker Lodge Pulau Mantanani Besar, Sabah

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