My girlfriend and I spent a long time researching for our trip to Mabul and Sipadan. We wanted a cheap package that would allow us to have a few days on Mabul with dives, plus a day of diving at Sipadan Island along with generally being well looked after. Big John leapt out through the research with great reviews.
We were very fussy and needed a flexible package to meet our preferences, and found Mark at Big John to be incredibly helpful. With emails going back and forward over a period of weeks he was always accommodating and helped sort out exactly what we wanted.
On arrival to Semporna we bumped into Big John himself who offered us a pick-up the next morning to get us to the wharf. Not only did he pick us up, but he came to our hotel room to get us and carried our bags! When we reached Mabul he organised breakfast for us (which wasn't supposed to be included). Nothing was too much trouble, and he was incredibly kind and friendly throughout our stay.
The Mabul Island accommodation is very basic but if you're used to backpacking it's ok. It's not in the prettiest or cleanest part of the island, but it's easy to walk to one of the resorts with a clean beach if you wish. The food at Big John's is plentiful and delicious - it would be impossible to go hungry!
Importantly, the diving was also fantastic. The equipment was in excellent condition and everyone involved was professional. All our dives were with Radich who was an excellent dive master - spotting everything and taking it easy and slow. For the majority of our dives we were our own little group of two (plus Radich) which makes it so much more enjoyable. Big John don't take divers to Sipadan Island, but can arrange it with other companies. We went with Billabong, and the organisation between the two companies worked fine and we were well looked after by Billabong too.
Overall, we were in awe of what Big John has set up, and is running. Our stay was the highlight of an 8 month trip around SE Asia. Everyone involved is so welcoming, friendly, helpful and willing to do anything to make your stay even better. Highly recommended
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