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“Basic backpacker place”

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Scuba Junkie Hotel & Diving
Helsinki
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Basic backpacker place”
Reviewed April 10, 2014

I tried to book a stay at Scuba Junkies' Mabul resort, but as it was fully booked, had to settle for the Semporna hostel (eventually I did manage to get a bed from Mabul for one night, but more of that in a separate review).

First of all; the photos you see here are NOT from Semporna, they are from Mabul. Semporna is a local town and Scuba Junkies have their office and the hostel + restaurant together at the sea shore (although, the hostel is run by different people than the restaurant or the scuba operations).

The town itself is very unpleasant and very dirty, I don't think anybody would like to stay there for any other reason, but to get out to the sea. There's no beach or anything like that, so don't be tempted to try to substitute a holiday by the beach by staying in Semporna.

The hostel itself is okay, nothing fancy and frankly a bit run down. The staff seemed to have a bit of a confusion with my booking, although I don't now if that was their problem or had the Scuba Junkie people misplaced my booking (as all the bookings go through Scuba Junkies' offices). I had booked a stay for four nights, but they found a reservation only for one night. In the end I did manage to get a bed for the entire duration of my stay, but had the hostel been fully booked, I don't know what would I have done. The Wifi works only in the lobby, they charge a deposit for the towel and on Friday nights there's a band playing at the adjacent restaurant downstairs, so if you intend to go to bed early, make sure you have good earplugs.

Overall it's a decent stay if you don't expect too much, but if you have any chance, book a bed or a room from the Mabul Resort instead. On the upside, the food and drinks at the Semporna restaurant are very good and most of the staff hang out there in the evenings, so it's not all bad!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Losviages
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (20)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
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English first
Reading, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
417 reviews
96 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 204 helpful votes
Reviewed April 3, 2014

Ideal base for either diving/snorkelling or a one-nighter before/after Mabul. The WiFi could have been stronger but place was very clean, spacious, good showers and great restaurant. Found beer expensive but staff VERY helpful and approachable, especially with sorting onward travel.
I want to thank SJ for keeping the BACKPACKER ETHOS strong and offering very good value and clean accommodation of all types for all budgets despite pressures from guests who demand more luxury. Don't forget your roots!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank jgp1991
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bath, England, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2014 via mobile

We stayed here for 2 nights. Unfortunately we left it too late to go snorkelling around Sipidan, however we organised a trip to Sibuan through Scuba Junkie which was fantastic. We were taken to 3 different snorkelling spots and told the area to swim in to spot the turtles etc (saw a sting ray too)
Food was provided on the trip and was of a good standard. Good equipment and very friendly staff.
The staff in the SJ office were brilliant too.

The rooms are clean and comfortable (you get half price room rates if you dive/snorkel with them)
Bathrooms are down the corridor and were clean, although one didn't have a window and smelt of sewage.

When we arrived we were told our room wasn't ready (10am) and we're told to come back at 1.30pm. However my boyfriend was very ill and I asked if we could check in any earlier, and 40 mins later they had cleaned the room and we're checking us in. The staff at SJ are all really friendly and helpful!

Free wifi and book swap in the reception area.

Their restaurant also does fantastic western food!


Would stay here again.

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank Sus704
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madrid
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2013

I had to stay at Scuba Junkie's Semporna Hotel, as my plane arrived too late for a transfer same day to Mabul.
The good thing is that the hostel is just next to Scuba Junkie diving operator, so very convenient if you dive with them.
However, I found ridiculous to have to pay a deposit to get a towel ! Never seen that anywhere in the world (I was told : this is because it's a backpacker hostel ! but why do I pay a deposit for the towel, and not for the bed sheets, ... and what is the point for them, as it gives administrative work to collect and refund deposit).
Rooms are basic, the hostel overall is a bit noisy, but nothing tremendous. They have wifi and computers in the lobby.
Staying there allows you to have nice dinner in the nearby local restaurants, some of which are quite tasty.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank cyril_madrid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed October 30, 2013

My partner and I stayed with Scuba Junkies from the 13th-18th of October. The two of us have dived with many dive operators over the years, both resort and live aboard; throughout 14 countries. A lot of the trips we do, are documented and passed on to our Dive club members and friends, so you could say I had high expectations of this operation; given their close proximity to the sublime Sipadan. Our flight from KK to Tawau was delayed which did put our connecting boat ride from Semporna to Mabul in doubt. I'm happy to say the staff did hold the boat departure by 45 minutes, so we could make the 50 minute crossing that afternoon and not the following morning. On arrival we received our key (Room 24) and the bags were promptly delivered.

Observations:

- Accommodation: Our room was clean, presentable and had both a fan and fully functioning fridge and air conditioner. The wrap around balcony with hammock was also an asset for drying wet dive gear. The bathroom was very clean and modern.

- The following day's diving is presented on a large white board in the eating area, detailing your dive masters, dive boat and departure time. The staff prefer you to review the board before asking questions, given the volume being pumped through; fair enough. For those bringing their own gear, you do need to discuss with the staff as the operation is focused on recreational divers with renting gear. Note: sidemount divers, there are no tanks setup for DIN connectors and they do not have the required allen key to alter the tank valves. Fortunately I did bring my own converters.

- Food: Buffet style, self serve. The quality was quite good but you do need to get in line as soon as it's served, as the fruit goes quickly and some of the guests can be very hungry.

- Dive Sites: The operation is setup for two days in Mabul, then a day on Sipadan. The quality of the house reefs are good and quite varied with plenty to see. Kapalai is excellent and Sea Adventures is world class. The viz ranged from 8m to 20m. The two days on Mabul's reefs (three dives per day) are worth it but the Sipadan day is exceptional. Tornados of barracuda, Jack fish and 100 Bump Head Parrot Fish...incredible.

Dive Operation: Well organized, all gear is loaded on the boats and a thorough dive briefing is provided. They do group divers of similar experience which was a relief. There's nothing worse than travelling from the other side of the world and ending your dive after 40 minutes due to poor buddy assignment. Our dives ranged from 50-70 minutes and everyone had similar SAC rates and temperament.

Quality of Dive Masters: We had three DM's and one Instructor on our boats over the six days. Cat, Scott, Dave and Rachel were excellent. They knew the dive sites well, enjoyed interacting with customers and were good spotters. Most importantly they didn't harass us with respect to air, depth and respected our level of experience as we did theirs.

Post Dive: There is a great bar above the dining area, beers are 5 ringet each and everyone is happy to mingle.

Staff: The local staff are very respectful and friendly. Note, you don't get if you don't ask.

Improvements: They have a strong Dive Master in training program so the DMT's do help out on the boats. Not too sure this is a great idea without the vetting. On my first dive I thought I'd test the waters on their customer service with the male DMT's on board . My first question was "I've misplaced my weights, can you lend a hand?" This was met by a strong glare and no response. I backed it up with "would you mind passing my tank down to me" (second chance). My tank was passed down to me but dropped from a foot and a half from the water with the additional glare. Alarm bells did go off at that stage but I'm glad to say the remainder of the days/dives were with all the DM's which were excellent as previously mentioned. They do need to train their DMT's on customer service as the customer sees no difference between the instructor and trainee both are just seen as representatives of Scuba Junkies. It would be nice to see the DMT's engaging with the customers post dive, this would assist with the learning experience.

In summary, I would recommend Scuba Junkies for those wanting to dive all day and experience Sipadan. Rating 3.75 out of 5. It's bang for your buck and all about the diving. The issue of 2 days diving for one day at Sipadan is common for all operators in the area as each is only given seven permits per day per resort. The local dives are good so no huge downside.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank Pete108
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2013

We had a really pleasant stay here. The service was above average and the dive shop were great. We didn't spend much time here as it was just stopover to get to Mabul, but can't complain. The attraction is definintely not the town though - you go there to dive.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank LaurenR86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2013 via mobile

What a terrible place! It Sure does not compare to THE good mabul beach resort at mabul island. Avoid THE complacent staff, Renting a shower towel and THE noice! If you have THE chance, go straight to mabul beach resort! Also owned by scuba junkie.

Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank MarkandCorine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Scuba Junkie Hotel & Diving

Property: Scuba Junkie Hotel & Diving
Address: Lot 36 PO Box 458, Block B | Semporna Seafront, Semporna 91308, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Semporna
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Semporna
Number of rooms: 24
Also Known As:
Scuba Junkie Hotel And Diving
Scuba Junkie Hotel Diving
Scuba Junkie Semporna

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