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“MUCH TOO EXPENSIVE FOR THE SERVICE YOU GET”

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Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Certificate of Excellence
Kuurne, Belgium
Level Contributor
83 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“MUCH TOO EXPENSIVE FOR THE SERVICE YOU GET”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2013 via mobile

I am not happy after one week Borneo Divers. Arriving at the jetty there is a big pile of rubbish in the water. Really dirty. The resort is ok. They have a nice pool. The rooms are rather basic. A bed, a table, an old spotted desk chair, a small cupboard and very elemental bathroom. The showerwater was warm but lacked pressure. We paid 1000 euro pp for 7 nights including 5 days diving. We had 2 sipadan permits pp at 40 ringits. The dives on Sipadan are nice. Reef sharks on every dive, loads of turtles, huge school of jacks and a whirlwind of barracudas. My wife was happy with the guides, but I want them to show me more than a shark and a turtle(Those I can spot myself). We didn't see any pygmee seahorse. We showed lots of small stuff to our fellow divers but the guides disappointed. After 2 days Sipadan things got worse. Most diving around Mabul is along Walls or what is left of them. Lots of corals have died. My DM was blowing fancy bubbles the entire dive. He repeated his act in the afternoon. I skipped the thirth dive. Rubbish !! The next day i had a guide all to myself !! We went to Kapalai.This was going o be great !! 8 Chinese were thrown in the water with one DM and I went down with my DM. He did not blow fancy bubbles but showed absolutely no interest in the UW life. He was interested in his dive computer and after 45 mins we went up. Every dive we made with Borneo Divers was 45 minutes. House policy ?? I had 2 nice dives: one under Seaventure Rig and one on Paradise 1. Our last day on the resort we were on to go to Sipadan again, but No diving 24 hours prior to flying.While we were there 90% of the resort was filled with Chinese. They are the Asian Russians. No manners, always late and unfriendly.Mabul was one big disappointment for me. Overpriced, very basic, bad uninterested dive guides and cold food in the restaurant. Don't go there !!

Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank MANI_DIVER
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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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
27 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 July 2013

I came to Borneo to dive Sipadan Island. This resort is well located. Permits to dive Sipadan are restricted, but when you get there it probably has the best marine life you will ever see. The Parrot Fish are nicknamed "buffalo" because they are so huge and get around in heard-like schools! The joke amongst divers is that "there are so many turtles you have to push them out of the way!" After my stay with these guys I moved to the Uncle Chang resort next door because they had more dive permits.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Peter_Hohaus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bangalore
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 July 2013

I came to Borneo (Sipadan) to get my PADI Advanced Open Water certification and dive the famous Sipadan islands. Obviously Sipadan was an incredible diving experience and so was the one or two dives I did at Mabul. I got my AOW certification in 2010 and I'm posting in 2013 and the reason is that I just went diving in Dahab in Egypt where some friends were getting their AOW certification. When I saw the high standards they were held to and the training/instruction they got, I compared it to my experience at Borneo Divers and realized that I got shortchanged. The instructor Eljer was in a hurry to finish the course and didn't seem to care if I really improved my dive skills. For example, as an excuse to hurry the certification process, he told me that AOW is not really an important certification and that its not very different from OW. For a certification that requires real skills I need to do the Rescue course. While there is some truth in that, I feel that if I had done my AOW elsewhere, my buoyancy control would have been much much better as it is now after it was fixed in subsequent dive trips. I never did any buoyancy skills at BDM. I chose the night dive and navigation for my AOW specialty dives. Because he was in a hurry to get the course done quick, Eljer 'suggested' I do the navigation stuff on land! When I looked a little doubtful, he said we could do the night dive and the navigation dive at the same time. So he had the compass, and a torch (i wasn't given one) and kept shining it on the compass underwater while signalling in the dark! Needless to say, I was clueless and learnt no navigation skills.
In short, Sipadan is incredible diving, some of the best in the world, the dive resort is decent enough but I wouldn't get certified here.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank sach5897
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 June 2013 via mobile

I stayed for 6D/5N fir SCUBA diving. During my stay , I enjoyed almost 20 dives.
The dives scene is amazing, diving masters and instructors are professional , extremely friendly and fun to be with.
Rooms are fine and clean with good air conditioning. Staff are all very friendly. I feel safe and relaxed in the resort.
In fact, I just recommended the resort and my diving instructor to my friend who is planning for a diving trip.

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Penbi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
30 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2013 via mobile

We went as a group of 15 divers and had stayed there for 6 days /5 nights.

As a group, we enjoyed the dives and stay tremendously and were very sad when we had to leave.

Accommodation - the room was basic but clean. The bathroom was only ok and the water did smell a bit. However, it was still bearable for us. There was heater and the water pressure was strong enough.

Food - food was good overall. there is a good variety of food from western, chinese to malay food. The food was not spicy or hot. They offered bbq once a while and the sataty were particularly tasty. Only problem is that the smoke from the bbq got into the dining area and it can become rather smoky and hot there. What i like most is that they offered heated food when we were at Sipadan island. Only thing for improvement is that sometimes the breakfast items can be a bit oily.

Dives - Excellent dive masters and boatmen. Very experienced and knew exactly where to find the small and big fishes. i would definitely recommend Madil and Steven to be your dive masters. Also, we would recommend to have at least 2 days dive in Sipadan island.

Facilities - there is a swimming pool but we never use it. Why bother if there is a nice house reef just at the jetty. The house jetty was nice and they serve drinks and snacks, so that you can chillout there.

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Abikoh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sausalito, California
Level Contributor
31 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 May 2013

I can't say enough about this place. It is not fancy, but has lots of charm and intimacy. The rooms are basic, but CLEAN and comfortable. Everyone who works there couldn't be nicer, always smiling and kind. They give you everything you need for comfort including their amazing Sabah coffee. The meals were plentiful and good, lots of choices and it was clean, fresh and good. The dive operation is FIRST CLASS. I can't say enough about our dive masters, Lilihana and Roy, THE BEST! The crew helping you (especially Iman), with your equipment were so helpful and kind, including William and Narfez as wonderful boat captains. They definitely helped me alot and beyond the call of duty. They pretty much do everything for you, you just need to get on the boat. I booked through Asia Diving Vacation and they were fantastic in guiding me where to stay and pretty much spelling out everything I would expect. The diving in Sipadan is the best in the world,
and they made sure we had fantastic dives. I hope to return one day and grateful that I made it there.

Room Tip: All rooms are the same, basic, yet charming and comfortable
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Melissa K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
71 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 May 2013

We booked Borneo Divers Mabul resort via Asia Diving Vacation. Our liaison person was Serena. She was fantastic! We selected our resort mainly based on price but also on recommendation from a fellow diver. We read several reviews on Trip Advisor in June and July 2012. I have to say that I was a little concerned as there was a common theme of poor food and rooms, but we were after all, going for diving, not a resort stay.

There was a major security issue in Eastern Sabah involving the Malaysian military taking action against a large group of insurgents (terrorists) a few weeks before we due to depart. The Australian Government issued a Do Not Travel alert to the area and specifically Semporna and the dive islands and we thought our trip was up in smoke. Serena was instrumental in keeping us well informed on an almost weekly basis via links to the Sabah Tourist Board website and other sources. We felt that the situation was more secure than our Government and other Western Governments were admitting to. Despite still having some concerns we decided to go. Smart choice!

Our party of 4 was met on time at Tawau airport and taken to Semporna, passing through Military check points en route. We had a couple of hours to wait in Semporna for the transfer to Mabul. Lunch and a walk into the main street filled the time easily. The Military and Police presence was huge and we felt completely safe.

Our trip across to Mabul was smooth and took just under an hour. We were met on the Borneo Divers jetty by our Dive Master Lionel and Amin, the hard working dockside manager. Lionel took us directly to the resort's main centre, where we received a welcome welcoming drink and a comprehensive briefing on day to day operations. It's probably the best orientation I've ever received anywhere.

Our room was freshly painted inside and out and was perfectly presented and clean. During our 5-day stay, we watched a couple of other rooms having a similar treatment and it was obvious that most rooms had been renovated. The only drawbacks were typical Asian drain smells from the bathroom which had a hot water booster, but the shower leaked onto the bathroom floor.

Meals were wonderful with different themes each night, including a Steam Boat night and a beach side BBQ with entertainment. It seems like management has listened to complaints lodged on Trip Advisor and elsewhere.

All pre and post dive operations such as gear hire, washing and storage, boat arrivals and departures were managed by Amin. He knew each of our group by name by the second day and what gear we had (we brought our own). It was always in the correct tub in the store room.

Our DM was Lionel who was a competent diver but relatively new to Borneo Divers. His briefings were thorough and included safety and lost buddy/group procedures as required as well as the features of each dive site. My only disappointment was that he often asked us which sites we wanted to dive, rather than leading. We of course weren't familiar enough to know which sites were best. This is only an experience issue, but it did lead to confusion, especially at Sipadan which we were fortunate enough to do twice in 4 days.

In my opinion Sipadan has the best wall diving on the planet next to the Red Sea's Brother Islands, Daedalus and Elphinstone reefs.There was big fish action with hundreds of schooing Barracuda, Jacks by the thousands and hundreds of Bumphead Parrotfish. There were more turtles, both Green and Hawksbills. on a single dive than I've seen in my life and the best Gorgonian seafans since Big Brother in the Red Sea. We did 16 dives in 4 days. We were all exhausted!

A word on security. Borneo Divers Mabul Resort is right next door to the Police Station which was well staffed by heavily armed officers. It was the same on Sipadan. We arrived at dawn on ANZAC day, which commemorates Aussie and New Zealand's troops and their defeat at Galipolli in WW1. The commander of the Malaysian Army and a security detachment were on Sipadan that morning. We met him and had a short chat. Sipadan has an army detatchment permanently stationed there due to it's proximity to the Sulu Islands in the Philippines. We always felt 100% safe.

Our experience at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort was the best resort based diving experience I've ever enjoyed. Our thanks to Lionel, our boat man Sammy and Amin for making this truely a holiday to remember! Last but not least, their agent Serena at Asia Dive Vacations. Without her security updates, we would not have gone.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank DiveMedic1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort

Property: Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort
Address: Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Sipadan
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Pulau Sipadan
Number of rooms: 30
Also Known As:
Borneo Divers Mabul Island Hotel Pulau Sipadan

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