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“Great diving experience; in need of a refresh”

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Sipadan Water Village
Ranked #5 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 5 Contributor
42 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Great diving experience; in need of a refresh”
Reviewed June 24, 2014

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.

Room Tip: Book a Sipadan room rather than a Mabul room. Mabul rooms overlook the poor village and are in the n...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JawnBC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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191 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (36)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Thai first
  • Vietnamese first
  • Any
English first
Penang Island, Malaysia
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 10, 2014

Relax, warm, snorkeling, eat & sleep, that's heavenly!!! You can dive or snorkeling anytime from 7am to 5pm at resort vicinity. Meal provided was buffet style, I think weekend's meal would be more variety. The instructors in resort are friendly and encouraging. A great place to just blank yourself and have a good re-charge time as well as temporary escape from work.

The resort is actually kinda old, lack of maintenance, low water pressure for bath. But still, I just love that place so much. The crystal clear water is already worth the visit!!! We also get chance to visit Pulau Sipadan for snorkeling. 3 giant sea turtles swim close enough for me to touch them!!! That's was not an ordinary stuff!!!

As a conclusion, this is a place that you must visit once in a lifetime.

Room Tip: Stay away from the dive center.
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank KazuyaCheang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed May 30, 2014

Great buffet meal with variety of choice - B/L/D, sometimes with a night performance.
Nice snorkeling trip with friendly guidance, overall is very clean.
However, room is without aircond, only ceiling fan, very hot at night.

Room Tip: room far away from restaurant...more privacy & quiet.
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank susangmg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed February 18, 2014

have been to SWV 3 times now. it's a sanctuary i return to almost every year but the last time i visited, i noticed that the place is getting older. some maintenance would probably do them some good. water pressure was getting lower and there was some funky smell in the bathroom. of course the view and the ambiance is still something i look forward to every year.

diving was good. we spend 6 days 5 nights there and we got 2 days diving in Sipadan. i personally love diving Mabul and the house reef in front of SWV never fails to impress me. diving crew were very fun yet professional. they made the diving experience more memorable.

oh and the after diving chill out at the bar area is just priceless! :) when you are there, you truly eat, dive, drink, sleep. :)

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank lisC_al
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Penang Island, Malaysia
Level 4 Contributor
19 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed February 13, 2014

Allister from Aquatastic handled all my inquiries professionally and assured my dive holiday at Sipadan Water Village to be seamless. Transfers from the airport to the resort was smooth. Room looks a little tired and needs a face lift. Meals was not great but good enough to fill my growling stomach after many hours in the water. Staffs were friendly and accommodating and always have the dining table reserved for my group every meal. Views from every corner were breathtaking. Wifi was slow but good enough to upload a pic or two to make my friends envy.

The Dive Center is a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort. It caters to divers of all levels and experience and offers various PADI certifications and training. Staffs, boat crews, dive masters and instructors are all professional and courteous. Andyryan who guided us for most of our dives was fun, laid back and knowledgeable in the marine ecology of that area. Unlimited house dives (Paradise 1 and Paradise 2) are located just right by the Dive Center. Dive equipment are well maintained and everything is pretty much organized. Lockers, showers, toilets and rest area with complimentary snacks, hot coffee and tea are provided. The dive sites at Sipadan has been renowned throughout the world and doesn't need to be mentioned here again.

Room Tip: Get a junior/standard semi-d chalet if you want to be near the dive center.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank KenixSokYee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kelowna, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed December 31, 2013

We booked two water village rooms- one ocean view the other mainland. The ocean view well worth it! Paid extra for air conditioning- so we were further from dive shop. The dive staff was very attentive and equipment rental well run. The last day of diving we got our permit for Sipadan-it was Amazing!! We also did a night dive with Ramil, i would highly recommend it. Christmas Eve dinner and staff dancing made the day extra special. The turkey, roast beef and seafood Christmas dinner was a Feast. Other meals you can ask the chef to cook you catch of the day.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tlfraser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 5 Contributor
81 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2013 via mobile

This is my second visit to swv after 4 years. The transport arrangements were efficient. In fact too efficient, that my request to detour to a local supermarket to get some essentials for my group of 6 in the van could not be entertained. The excuse given was there was no time (maybe the couple in the other van did not but we did and we arrived at the airport really early)

Overall, I felt that the standards had dropped a fair bit since my last visit in 2009. We were welcomed by the staff who were at the jetty but that was the end of the welcome. Admin and check in procedures were a mess and instead of gathering the few groups who were there for an update, it started off with a rude bout of attendance taking by name without even first introducing herself and explaining what was happening.

Before the admin procedures were complete, Felix the dive master introduced himself, all eager to conduct our check out dive for us as check our dives was scheduled to be at 11 am. But our rooms were not even ready and we were herded to the dive centre to prepare for dive admin without the proper assurance of where we could leave the rest of our luggage safely.

Food was a horror. The staff were very friendly and always obliged our requests. Other than that, there was always almost no food left when we walked into the restaurant after our dives, usually half an hour or an hour after meal times start. The food also tasted horrible. This is a stark difference from my experience 4 years ago. Minimally, I think restaurant should put in some effort to ensure that the buffet spread is well stocked sufficiently for the number of people staying there to prevent people from "rushing to get food" and poor guests like us who only got to pick from leftovers. It was definitely a bad experience that repeated every meal time in my 4 days stay.

Rooms were ok, I took the non air con room and appreciate that there was an additional fan. Beds were also clean. It was within my expectations except that I wished that for the type of resort swv is, daily mineral water should be provided free of charge instead.

The dive masters at the dive centre did a good job tho. Special thanks to Felix, Andyrian, Valentine and Allister, our friendly videographer.

Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank dinnosaur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sipadan Water Village

Property: Sipadan Water Village
Address: Tawau, Pulau Sipadan 91031, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Sipadan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 276
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

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