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“A definite place to come back to” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Scuba Jeff Guest House

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Scuba Jeff Guest House
Ranked #2 of 3 Pulau Mabul B&B and Inns
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
93 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“A definite place to come back to”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 July 2010

i came from Kuala Lumpur and had never been INTO the open seas what more diving despite being an excellent swimmer. one day, a friend invited me and some friends to hang at scuba jeff to take up the PADI license and we all just agreed considering the fact that we had some days of annual leave yet to be utilized. at first, many of us were unsure what to expect because the trip to get to scuba jeff was a long haul one.

the trip from KL to Tawau takes up to 2.5 hours and from Tawau to the jetty in Semporna will consume another 1-1.5 hours or so. then its another hour from the jetty to scuba jeff. when we got there however, we were really really caught off guard with what i would call 'an experience on another level'.

below is the summary.

place: the place is B&B therefore no frills. you get a long-house like layout with about 10 twin sharing rooms. the whole place is big enough to fit a large group of people and there're benches and tables both in and outside the shack for people to sit and relax and also eat. a hammock is placed at the edge of the shack where you can rest and look at the beautiful sunset or sleep under a sea of stars. the exterior part of the shack is used primarily for hanging out and also for the guests to sleep with the sky naked to the eyes and the sea breeze to soothe the hot air. mind you, i saw shooting stars and dead stars many a time, more than what i see in the city i live in for the past 25 years. in short, life here is simple and very much unlike the luxury living in the city and do not expect the pizzaz you would find in 5 stars and resorts.

activities: there's nothing much to do in mabul unless you really plan for it and for us we planned to take up the PADI license and did some free snorkelling along with free dives. if you dont plan well, you might get bored. also, be warned that this place is always fully booked despite its reputation as a no frills B&B so booking at least 3-6 months earlier is recommended. the owner, jeff can recommend what to do and what to see but sufficient to say, its the sea activities you should be looking forward to.the diving is conducted by trained instructors and dive masters from Blue Sea Divers based in Semporna and these guys are highly trained and seasoned divers whom are friendly, knowledgeable and very very helpful in training rookies to be professional divers. therefore, taking up PADI here is HIGHLY recommended.

rooms: the rooms are tidy and simple. you get 2 malaysian standard sockets (equivalent to singapore and united kingdom's electrical sockets) and a table fan to keep the bugs and heat away (although the fans might need some fixing as they are quite err..weak). you get 2 prince sized bed with above average bed sheets. you also get a big window to enjoy the sunset and the sea breeze and also the view of the sea huts.

staff: the staff, save for jeff, spoke basic english and good malay so communication is not that hard but stick to basic english. they are very friendly and helpful but do not mind them when they do not break a smile or greet you as that is not part of their culture. one of jeff's staff, jimsen is really good at everything. just tip him with a good dollar and he'll run errands for you at no time no questionas asked. both jimsen and also another staff, maisarah will entertain the guests at night with both local songs or english songs and also some songs in tagalog (which i personally thought was excellent).

food: the food is nothing short of great because they mostly contain a lot of seafood and nothing else save for some veggies and fruits. some local delights might appear tempting to the local guests, but foreigners might want to stay away from nastily hot and spicy food (but since im a local, i lick them off my plate). do not expect gourmet food or buffet kind of international cuisine cuz again its a no frills B&B. im a bodybuilder and i find the high protein, medium carb and fat diet there is sufficient for muscle conditioning (although there aint no gym in mabul) but its okay since i went there during my off week.

services: again, its a no frills B&B, so do not expect free complimentary wall street journal, financial times or local newspaper because PEOPLE DO NOT READ THE NEWSPAPER on such islands an i personally think its a waste of time and money to have those things. i however would advise anyone planning to stay in mabul or any other island for that matter to prepare extra stuff like spectacles or other things that might break cuz the journey to the closest town (Semporna) to and fro might take you about 2 hours. there're 2 functioning toilets which were more than enough.

other than that, scuba jeff is a great place to be. learn the sipadan song so that you'll understand why even the seasoned and experienced foreign divers chose mabul over the great barrier reef or maldives or mexico.

check this place out for a good time. seriously.
the place is safe, the sea rocks and the time you spend there will be a memorable one.
but always be prepared for surprises and get all the information you need from jeff.

sincerely, Muzzil of Kuala Lumpur

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Muzzil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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141 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (25)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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English first
Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
35 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 June 2010

My second trip to Mabul and first time staying at Jeff's own guesthouse.

I was at Jeff's with my wife and 4 year old daughter. We were met at Semporna around noon and Jeff sent us to Mabul in a fast boat with a few other couples. He wasn't due back to Mabul until much later in the day, so he told the boatman to take us snorkeling after we've checked in.

On arrival at his new guesthouse, we were met by his friendly staff. they don't speak much english, but then i'm a local so language was not a problem. Soon after settling in and a simple yet delicious lunch, we went snorkeling.

The first snorkeling site was at this place called Lobster Wall. The water depth was about 5 feet and then it drops (the wall) to about 30 feet. A few of Jeff's guide accompanied us. One of them named Jimson, took care of our daughter - swimming and snorkeling - so my wife and I could enjoy the snorkeling together.

We were there for 4 days. I spent 2 days scuba diving organized by Jeff. Total of 6 dives and 2 of them were at exceptionally beautiful. When I was scuba diving, the guides took my wife and daughter snorkeling. We were taken care of 24 hours a day.

Jeff's conservation effort included collecting corals ran over by boats and putting them in a safe location in front of his water chalet. when i was there, there was a lion fish, anemones, stag coral, clown fish, etc. you can choose to snorkel there day or night and it was beautiful.

The food served at Jeff was simple, yet tasted very good as the ingredients were all fresh. It's the only guesthouse equipped with a prayer room for muslims. if you're looking for air-conditioning and luxury, you should be looking at other resorts and cough up the money. if you just want a place to stay with friendly company, jeff's guesthouse is the place.

Jeff pioneered weekly clean-up activities on Mabul where he pay the local sea gypsy children for trash that they collected. soon that activity were picked up by other resorts.

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank azghaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kuala lumpur
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 June 2010

i've been planned for this trip since last year with my 5 other ladies.we keep searchg an info to get the best deal & thoughtful experience when we r there.i've found this scuba jeff website n start dealing with them since march 2010.my first impresion is they r very helpful.jeff the owner of guest house always give me an informative tips on how to travel there.2 weeks before our departure to mabul, the staff started to contact us to confirm the booking.
during the day of arrival,we receive a welcome smile by jeff n his team at the guest house.he treat us totally like family.s what he promise to giv 24hours guide/guard to the visitors,that was what we experience during 3days staying at the guest house.not only jeff who are good to us,but as well as the staff.the food serve was delicious.no fast food..but its all fresh food from the sea.it was a budget guest house..but its comfort.worth paying with all those promises that he commit in his website.the clear crystal water just in front of the guest house make u feel calm.and his idea of offering discovery scuba diving to the guest was absolutely great!it makes my holiday was so perfect and we started to miss mabul & of course the friendliness of everyone there in Scuba Jeff Guest House.not to forget the time listening for their guitar play and Mai unique voices.
after all..what i can conclude..what Scuba jeff was offering is worth and u guys will miss to come back to mabul island and enjoy not only the sighseeing but also the gypsy culture.all the best to u Jeff & Scuba Jeff team.we will be there again soon.Keep up ur good effort to protect the coral at ur beautiful taman sesudu..and always keep ur smile to welcome more guest to ur house.we miss ur friendliness as we feel like apart of ur family.luv u guys!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank dilla_damia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wisconsin
Level Contributor
264 reviews
72 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 157 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 May 2010

I had booked Scuba Jeff's for three nights via email, and I received very short email responses from Jeff himself. I was told that once we arrived in Semporna, we were to give Jeff a call for a transfer to the island. I called the two numbers he had emailed me most recently but nobody answered. So I tried the number he had given me a few days earlier and finally got Jeff on the phone. He sent someone over to pick us up right away.

The boat trip went by quickly, and as we pulled up to the house the staff helped to carry in our bags. But that's all they did. We were sort of shown to a room, but we were never told where the bathrooms were, what time meals would be at, or how to get anywhere on the island. I'm not a very needy traveler, but a little introduction to the place is always appreciated. Instead the staff sat around and smoked at the table in the middle of the building. Most of them seemed to be 16 or younger. We asked where Jeff was and didn't get much of an answer as nobody there spoke English very well (we guessed).

My partner and I decided to set out to see the island, but first we had to make our way across a very rickety elevated wood plankwalk. Once on land, we were following two Scuba Jeff staff members who started passing paper ringgits out to kids like they were big hot shots. We veered off in another direction. After scoping out a few other places on the island, we decided that we didn't want to move to another place because we didn't really want to stay on the island at all.

Back at the house, we asked again where Jeff was and finally understood that Jeff was back in Semporna. At that point, I was slightly upset that he hadn't mentioned in his emails that he wouldn't be around. We arranged to leave the next day. When asked what time we wanted to go, we said 11am. We were told it was no problem.

That night we were served dinner. Nothing special but not bad. Because we felt totally unwelcome and in the way of the staff, we didn't feel comfortable hanging out in the common areas after dinner.

The rooms themselves are fine. Just wooden walls and a window that opens out to a view of the water village the house is in. The beds were thin mattresses but semi-comfortable. And there was a fan in the room that helped to keep the bugs away.

If you're lucky, you'll be serenaded by the young girl with a beautiful voice. Although she mostly only practiced Miley Cyrus's song "The Climb", it was much better than listening to one of the guys screech out some local songs while playing guitar. It was almost unbearable at one point, and I can tune out a lot of noise.

The next morning we were served breakfast, and soon after a boat arrived with Scuba Jeff on board. He sort of introduced himself but seemed more interested in the single girl who was also staying at the place. I overheard him telling her they were going to have a big party that night. Good thing we decided to leave. We were not interested in that type of thing, but he never bothered to ask us if we'd mind.

Turns out 11am wasn't going to work out as a departure time, but Jeff offered to take us out on a snorkeling trip for free while we waited for the tide to come back in. I figured at this point that he knew we were upset so it was nice of him to offer a freebie. The first site we went to was just on the other side of the reef nearby the house, and it was beautiful. Two divers had come out on the boat from Semporna so we stayed in the water the whole time they were down. Afterwards, we were taken back to the house where we had lunch. Jeff told us that we wouldn't be leaving until 3pm or so and that we could do another snorkel at a "very beautiful site" if we wanted to go along with the divers. The boat dropped us off near one of the resorts just down the shore from Scuba Jeff's. Visibility was horrible and there was a lot of garbage floating in the water. We decided to get out almost right away.



We were finally able to head back to Semporna, and we were taking the fast boat. Unfortunately the driver loved to wave at his friends that would pass by on other boats and would jerk the steering wheel sending us straight at the other boats. It was nerve-racking to say the least.

Before we left Mabul, Jeff mentioned that he was fixing up the place and adding nicer rooms. He suggested we come back in a year or so. We didn't want to leave because the rooms were simple. It was the staffing we had issues with. If you want to work in the hospitality business, you might want to teach your staff to be hospitable. With a smile for good measure. I think Scuba Jeff's could be a really great place to hang out in the future once he gets a few things figured out.

This next issue is nothing that I would consider in an evaluation of Scuba Jeff's, but visitors should be warned. There is a lot of trash lying around the island and floating in the water. Once while snorkeling I said, "Is that a jellyfish? No, it's just a plastic bag." It would be really nice if more of an effort was made to keep the island and waters surrounding it clean. I know this is a change that needs to be made from the top down, but I just think it is worth putting out there as a suggestion.

I do have to say that the best part of this experience was the view from our room. We were able to watch the local folks fish and swim in the water. And the buildings of the water village were silhouetted by the setting sun later in the evening. It was an incredible view!

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank RunsAmok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Varies Often
Level Contributor
16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 May 2010

From the time of my arrival to my last night there Scuba Jeff and his staff made us feel like part of their family. From after-dinner (delicious BBQ tuna) guitar and singing to morning snorkeling right off the dock in "Jeff's Garden". The owner (Jeff) really takes pride in his place and as someone who actually lives there has put in a lot of little thoughtful modifications to keep the place cool and comfortable during the hot days that most other homestays just don't bother to do. If you need an alternative place to stay other that your dive shop (some looked quite shabby from the boat ride in) I would recommend Jeff's.
Enjoy!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank scratch_the_itch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
new york, ny
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 May 2010

We booked a night at Scuba Jeff's for a night at RM 70 per person including meals plus RM 150 to get there. First off, the staff couldn't be bothered to say hello or make eye contact from their card game. The staff of about 6 were all smoking cigarettes, sleeping, or playing cards the whole time.

Toilets: 1 of 2 had a seat, no toilet paper.
Showers: bucket
Beds: real basic no top sheet, mattress sheet was stained.
Food: Horrible!!!
Staff: no english, no maps, no tourist information available


The island itself was tiny and half of it was owned by high end resorts, the other half looked like a shanty town with the housing on stilts. Looked like no plumbing under the guesthouses or homes, so the wastewater just went into the ocean. The small area that was a "beach" was littered with trash and broken beer bottles.

We didnt even bother to stay the night. we left after a few hours.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled with friends
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank mjarina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Butterworth, Malaysia
Level Contributor
58 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 March 2010

this is a suitable place for traveler with kids, their crew is so helpful. u can see star fish in front the house. so many activity to do here. dinner n lunch is absolutely fresh. the owner is so great. he likes to play guitar and sing to you. the staff is incredible great. they even guide me and my son to snorkel

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank maneh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Scuba Jeff Guest House

Property: Scuba Jeff Guest House
Address: Mabul Island, Pulau Mabul 91308, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Mabul
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Pulau Mabul
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Simple, budget accommodation on Mabul island in stilted longhouse right over the sea. Look out of your room to the infinite sea views or across to the local fishing village bustling with local life. Room rate includes all meals, tea, coffee, water. Friendly staff will treat you like family and make you feel at home. Snorkel right off our jetty or join our dive trips to the famous sites of Mabul and Sipadan. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Scuba Jeff Guest House Hotel Pulau Mabul

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