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“Poorly run, over priced dive center puts the beautiful reefs to shame.”

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Nabucco Island Resort
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
55 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Poorly run, over priced dive center puts the beautiful reefs to shame.”
Reviewed 3 August 2014 via mobile

I really wanted to give this place a great review because the underwater marine life is stunning and the divemasters try really hard. But sadly, this is a soulless, over priced, poorly run and under staffed excuse of a dive center.

- First the pricing - it's insanely high, and they charge you for EVERYTHING. Whoever heard of water, snacks and lunch not being included in a days diving? These guys will charge you for every kilo of weight on your belt soon. It works out at €54 a dive on a 2 dive day, but it's extra for food, water and the boat journey if you go far out!

- Under staffed - 8 divers to a guide? At €54 a dive? Are you joking? Having to queue up behind 4 other divers each time I want to take a picture of something? And knowing full well that being at the back means the guide hasn't got a clue what I'm up to or if I'm safe? It's appalling. There should be a 4 divers per guide limit somewhere that charges this much.

- Soulless - I don't think I got asked once how my dive was, if i'd had a good day, what I'd seen etc etc. The only chatter came from some of the other divers. Everyone that works there is quiet, surly, and constantly walks around looking like they've just been shouted at. Which they probably have. Alfonso, one of the divemasters was the only one who seemed to know the meaning of a smile. This attitude makes you feel like a nuisance! I felt bad asking for a coke because of the filthy look I got from the waiters! And then I got charged $2.50 for it!

- Poorly run - the kits a shambles, all ends up in the wrong place and gets mixed up, I had no idea where any of my stuff was half the time. Dive briefings are inadequate, I never once got buddied up with anyone so I just dived solo and stayed with the group, I often wasn't clear who was in what group until we got in the water and separated. They tried to bill me for costs that weren't me, just generally rubbish.

One extra point - this place is German run and so a lot of Germans stay here, I know it's not fair to stereotype but they really were a sullen bunch when I was there, not a smile from any of them - no fun at all it was like being at school and having to be quiet in class.


I have to say, all in all, don't dive here - get yourself to Bunaken or Raja Ampat instead.

Stayed July 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Sarah M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Jakarta, Indonesia
Level Contributor
92 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 May 2014

This remote paradise is located off the coast of East Borneo. It is just a small island but it is surrounded by beautiful, clear water and exotic, unspoiled islands nearby. This resort is really beautiful and well maintained, the staff are professional and friendly and the diving equipment is really good, much better than what I have found in Derawan. This resort takes a while to get to, though. Just like Derawan Island, you fly from Balikpapan to Berau (45mins flight), then take a rude to Tanjung Batu pier (2.5hr ride) and then instead of stopping at Derawan, which only takes 45mins by speedboat, you need around 2.5-3hrs by speedboat to reach this paradise.

The highlight of my stay here, other than the unspoiled beauty surrounding this tiny Island paradise, is the exciting dive point: Big Fish Country. It is not for the faint of heart as you will be diving against really strong current (the weakest current is still 3 knots I heard). The rewards for your bravery is an experience of a lifetime: sharks and hundreds of barracuda blocking out the sub above you and if you're lucky, the massive school of barracuda will from that infamous whirlwind. Such an unforgettable sight. If you are inexperienced or nervous, the professional dive masters will try to make you feel more comfortable about attempting to dive the Big Fish Country.

I also loved visiting the nearby fishing villages which relatively remain unspoiled even compared to Derawan. They are charming, the locals are friendly and seem to love seeing visitors as they rarely see them. For a small remote village, this one particular fishing village on a nearby Island is really clean and green, perhaps the cleanest village I have seen in Southeast Asia so far, certainly Indonesia. Worth visiting as a side trip.

Two things to note for local (Indonesian) visitors planning to stay here, they charge in Euros (they convert 1 Euro = 16000) and because it is so remote if you need cellular connection please use Telkomsel and even then you only get relatively unstable 2G data connection too.

Overall, highly recommended (if you can afford). Wish we could have stayed one more night.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank HenryOnly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jakarta, Indonesia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 November 2013

I have been visiting this dive center with my friends, in order to discover the dive and snorkeling spots around Maratua.
Indeed, the place is beautiful, and looks like paradize: crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, very nice reefs, amazing flora and fauna. For this, you will not be disappointed.

However, I have been very disappointed regarding the costs.
As a lot of places in Indonesia, this resort surfes on the wave of the inflation of the Indonesian Rupiah, and displays all prices in Euros (instead of Rupiahs) and applies an outrageaous conversion rate (15500 IDR for 1 EUR) for all food and services.
That way, a discovery dive (no certification needed) is invoiced 1 200 000 Rp in Nabucco, when it costs 650 000 Rp in a resort in Nusa Lembongan.
For the food, a nasi goreng is invoiced 124 000 Rp when it usually costs 10 000 Rp in any warung in Indonesia.

Finally, it's been quite disappointing regarding security for the divers. It didn't seem to be a big problem to have only one guide for 8 open water divers in a location with current....

So yes, the place is nice, but that's not only what you're expecting from a dive center, that's why I wouldn't recommend it so much.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank FrancoisXavierL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Romford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 October 2013

Have just got back from Nabucco Island we went for 20days, great resort the food was very good although I would have liked a little more Indonesian food, however the standard was very good indeed.

The staff were very friendly and helped to make you feel at home right away.

My wife had a couple of massages which was carried out by the multi tasking staff and both were in her words very good.

We both have over 600 dives and can say that "Big Fish Country" was one of the best dive sites we have been on, one big thrill with OMG current lots of Grey Reef, White & Black Tip sharks to see and photograph, then comes the added bonus the Barracuda both yellow fin and standard I thought there were in excess of 1000 of them hanging there waiting for there prey, some people were saying it was nearer 2000, you will have to count them for yourself.

We were fortunate to actually hang right between the school and have some great close up photos, the other two good sites were Manta Point were we got to see lots of Mantas, and barracuda point again where we got to see lots of Barracuda, we did go to the jelly fish lake and although I am glad we went it wouldn't be on my list of places to go back to. All in all the diving was very good with very helpful DM (Alfonso & Chris).

Although the island is very small there is enough to see and do if you dive, and if you don't you can always study the fruit bats which are in residents.

The accommodation was of a good Indonesian style and very well done, the cleaning staff were very good, they came in each day.

If you go to the bar after diving ask for (Pete's) Chilly nuts they are great, we asked the kitchen staff if they could do some chilly flavoured peanuts and they did, they exceled themselves and even gave us a demonstration of how they make them.

The management Doris & Martin were always available and ran a very well organised ship something you would expect from the Swiss.

All in all a great holiday and although we don't normally go back to places I must say we are drawn by "Big Fish Country"

Room Tip: If you want sunrise chose rooms 1 to 4 most of the remaining are sunset.
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Peter_S580427
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 September 2013

Pros: The island resort is located in an idyllic tropical setting with the turquoise waters of the Celebes Sea flowing in and out of the surrounding channels that sculpt the sandbars gleaming in the equatorial sun. Big Fish Country is in my top 5 of all time dives (I have about 160 under my belt and have been all over the world). The current is not for the faint-hearted but the schools of barracuda, trevally and tuna are amazing. The sharks that lurk in the distance in the beginning of the dive set the stage for the barracuda finale. My dive buddy and I were certainly wowed. This is the type of dive that makes the whole trip worth it - especially if you catch it on video!. The other dives, notably the Lighthouse reef and Gorgonzola, had some beautiful reefs and lots of turtles; but nothing beat Big Fish Country. We dove the site twice and on both occasions, our Indo dive master Alphonso had to assist less experiences divers who had run out of air with some buddy breathing. Alphonso pulled this off impeccably and was observant and helpful on most dives.

Cons: Resort overcharges and nickel dimes you for everything. On par with its Eurocentric mentality all prices are in euro. Water is 2 Euro a bottle. - a refill is 1.50 euro. Beer is 5 Euro. A rip off taxi from the airport to the speedboat is charged as 7 euro each way per person! It was a 15 minute ride - max! The resort probably paid the taxis 50,000 (5 bucks) rupiah max for each way. My buddy and I calculated that on the way to the airport from the pier when there was four of us in the taxi, the 15 minute ride was charged at 28 Euro! That's more expensive per kilometer than NYC! Be aware that the Wings flight to Berau from Balikpapan sticks you with only 15kg of luggage, a change from the Liion Air flight we took from Surabaya to Balikpapan which allowed for 20kg. This is not clear on the Nabucco website. When I asked Doris, one of the resort's German speaking managers about this misinformation, she explained that they cater to a mostly European dive clientele who book packages from Europe. So Americans and Aussies are [--] out of luck:) In addition, watch out for the overweight luggage scam at Surabaya airport. We had an extra zero tabbed onto our bill! Food at the resort is average at best. You'd think Indonesian seafood would be a highlight, but instead the resort muddles in mediocrity in attempting to recreate western style cuisine. No gado gado, nasi goreng, mer goreng, babi gulung. Lastly, the dive boats were not properly equipped, missing emergency oxygen and extra o-rings.

Would I recommend? Sure - for Big Fish Country. But don't expect much from the resort!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Bandi19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 September 2013

Stunning island, great staff, very nice food but the diving was pretty poor in comparison to other places i have visited.advertised as the Sipadan of Indonesia, not even close...... most of the sites we went to had very nice corals but pretty devoid of fish life the DM tried very hard to point out things of interest but even he found it hard to find much. Big fish Country was more Barracuda point than anything else.Not one site lived up to expectation ok maybe we were unlucky but i have done a huge amount of diving in a lot of places and this was sadly disappointing. The accommodation was rustic but clean with stunning views .The prices were fairly high for anything additional, drinks, tea, coffee, snacks, you have to pay for all your water but you do get a free tea with breakfast . One point i feel should be mentioned is that the Boat trip to the island is 4.5 hours with half the journey spent in darkness now this would have been ok but the resort only uses a small very uncomfortable boat ,they do have a nice comfortable boat but its only used if there are more than 16 people.So very numb when we arrived at resort

Room Tip: any where away from the Bats
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Monkbait3131
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 August 2013

There was a very small island resort but they made a big success .Rooms, restaurant, meals and also diving were perfect.We were stay 6 day and did 15 dives.Diving crew - Extra Divers - were perfect.Thanks Doris and Martin for your hospitality and managing...

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ecm66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Nabucco Island Resort

Property: Nabucco Island Resort
Address: Maratua Island | Berau District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
Region: Indonesia > Kalimantan > Central Kalimantan
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 Hotels in Central Kalimantan
Hotel Class:3 star — Nabucco Island Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Also Known As:
Nabucco Island Hotel Central Kalimantan
Nabucco Island Resort Central Kalimantan, Kalimantan, Indonesia

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