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“Review from picky DM and OW”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Big John Scuba

Big John Scuba
Ranked #3 of 15 things to do in Semporna
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: A small company with a BIG heart.. and passion for customer safety and satisfaction.
Gothenburg, Sweden
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Review from picky DM and OW”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 12, 2014 via mobile


Mail conversation was quick, patient and helpful. Mark is a very experienced instructor who goes a very long way to keep his guests happy despite other dive centers mistakes. Dive crew has very sharp eyes and showed us new things each dive. Very happy!
Girlfriend took OW and is very pleased with the clarity and pedagogical way the course was carried out. Simply a great experience!

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Viktor S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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225 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia
Level Contributor
34 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Awesome diving experiences!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 10, 2014

It has it's reason to be ranked #1. We traveled there and stay for 4days 3 nights, we went for Discovery Scuba Dive and snorkeling, our instructor, Mark is very experiences, professional and is a good instructor, he brief us through the signal gesture and all possible outcome. We rented a camera from Big John Scuba to take the photo underwater, Jazz was the one that took the picture, he and Mark are very professional when we are underwater, it was fun, and the cost for the camera and DSD is totally worthy! The snorkeling was worthy also. If you are looking cheap and worthy accommodation, Big John Scuba is it! The room is basic but have everything you need. For sure that we will be back for Open Water Course. Advice that as a traveler, we should not be littering there especially smoker, help whatever we can on the cleanliness of the area around Mabul Island.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank sching91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Big John Scuba is fantastic. We were SO well looked after!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 9, 2014

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

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Finn R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tbilisi
Level Contributor
53 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Great diving experience!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 28, 2014

If you are looking for professional and fun diving instructor, cheap acommodation, delicious food and smiley welcoming faces, big john scuba is THE choice. Main reason for my visit to Mabul was diving at Sipadan, which I did the first day and I had 2 more days and three nights. So after I arrived at Big john's and talked to Mark, I decided to do my Advanced Open Water course. It was totally worth it and mark made this experience very special. He is professional, fun, attentive and tries to make sure that all your needs are met, while there. I exchanged coupe emails before arriving in Semporna and I got very helpful advice from Mark and good tips, so I felt welcome from the very first interaction.

The accommodation is very basic, but for the price you pay, it is ok and very convenient, as your diving, meals, bed are all in the same place. Food is delicious! And abundant, with great choice, I was actually pleasantly surprised, as I did not expect such great quality given the price.

Equipment ia in good condition, and dive sites are many and beautiful.

Big John himself is very nice, attentive and welcoming.

Overall I had a very memorable and wonderful experience.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank T M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington, New Zealand
Level Contributor
29 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“a memorable experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 18, 2014 via mobile

We arrived in Semporna and decided to try to learn to dive, so we trawled around for prices to do the PADI open water. The accommodation and course package at Big John's was by far the best value for money, especially for those on a budget. Our instructor Dendy was fantastic - especially as I was a really bad learner, but his patience, mixed with the occasional stern words, got me through the course. The accommodation isn't luxury (don't expect room service or mints on the pillow!), but the rooms have all the basics - four walls, a roof and a bed. We affectionately referred to it as the shack! The people are fatastic and look after you really well, though there isn't a set diving schedule so you are never sure when you are going to be jumping on the boat. After the diving we had some fun times with the guys, singing along to their guitar playing. We enjoyed the place so much we stayed an extra 3 days. The only negative I'd say (and thus is not tied to Big Johns) is in relation to the litter on land and in the sea around Mabul. It is absolutely horrendous. The first thing I saw when I put my head under water was a used nappy! Litter is a serious and unnecessary problem throughout the region and is particularly bad at Mabul. Something needs to be done to reduce litter and clean up the place as it really dimishes the beauty of the island and the experience of being there.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Steven L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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