I came to Mabul Island knowing well that a 5 star PADI resort isn't 5 stars in the traditional sense. And this resort isn't. But for divers it's top notch.
The dive crew are awesome--a large team of dive masters, boatmen and support staff. They're excellent at finding things on the bottom and great to deal with. Aside from nearby Sipadan, the local diving around Mabul and Kapalai is also very good--including the house reefs. But Sipadan is in a league of its own--stunning coral, tons of sharks, turtles, and all sorts of fish. Interestingly we saw more cephalapods around Mabul itself!
The rooms are rather nice. We were in the second most expensive category so we had a large overwater bungalow--EVERYTHING here is over the water, none of the resort is on land--with a large private deck and bathroom with tub and shower (most only have showers; the super deluxe rooms have hot tubs but no a/c). We had a/c, but needed the ceiling fan as well. Rooms serviced daily, beds comfortable, small fridge in the room too.
The weak bit? The food, though it did improve over time. Lots of empty carbs, a mix of Chinese, Western and Malay. Staff tried to be responsive but for an 8 day stay it was at times tedious. The biggest issue was breakfast: staff sometimes rocked in at 630 (for a 6am start); sometimes there were eggs and sometimes not. Ditto dry cereal. When you need to be on a boat for 615 or 7 this just doesn't work. Wherever you stay on Mabul be aware: your accommodation is almost certainly you only choice for food. Wifi in the lobby isn't great at peak times: grab a MyMaxi or Celucom SIM for your phone or tablet--there's coverage in the lobby of the resort.
Would I come back? If it was easier to get to (flight to Kota Kinabalu, then another flight to Tawau, then an hour minibus, and 45 minute speedboat journey) perhaps. Diving is totally worth it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sipadan Water Village is a resort built entirely over the water on stilts. In its design, Sipadan Water Village has achieved near utopia in its layout, splendid water cottage accommodations with flowered sidewalks, wonderfully prepared Asian and Continental cuisine, and impeccable and personable service! The dive program is comparable to none as everyone at Sipadan Water Village has an attitude and passion for what the sea has to offer. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Sipadan Water Village Hotel Pulau Sipadan
- Sipadan Water Village Pulau