We stayed from March 17-20, 2014, as it's during the Easter holiday it was required to stayed 4 nights in order to guarantee 1 day @ Sipadan. The time of stay was quite close to the kidnapping that happened in Tawau earlier which my friends might find it disturbing that I was still willing to go. There is a police station next to the resort and staff sleeps near the front of the resort while our cottages are in the back. Honestly if there is something bad is to happen, I am sure that no one can stop it but then at least it's good to know that some sort of "security" is nearby.
Overall, there is really no issues with the DMs/diving there. The lower rating is simply the experience with the dive group from Diving Express Hong Kong (refer below of details). Wifi is extremely weak and we were unable to contact on the last 2 days we were there. Wifi is only available at the dinning area and not elsewhere within the island. Do note that it's an island you are staying so if you need anything special -- like medicine or snacks, you will have to bring those with you. BTW, when checking in at Sipadan, we saw that Borneo seems to be among the few that have the most permits to dive -- 17 permits per days vs some resorts only have few per day
The room itself is nothing to rave about. It was your basic beds, table, a bathroom, mainly 2 sides to each cottage. Walls are thin but you have sufficient hot water and despite the room is basic; I appreciate the cleanliness of it. Rooms were cleaned and towels changed everyday and they did at good job in tidy up the place. Floors were mopped everyday in my room so no stickiness from the salt water/sand.
Food @ the place is not as bad as what some have mentioned. They do have varieties everyday; however it might be quite similar to some guests as it's really mainly Asian food but I find it to be ok for all the days I was there. The only thing is that if you care for ice-cream at night after dinner, you will just have to buy it ahead of time at the gift shop and bring it to the dinning hall and asked them to store it for you; as the dinning hall doesn't sell ice-cream and gift shop closes at 8pm.
Snacks & basic drinks (tea, coffee, juice, water) provided at the sun deck which faces the Seadventure. However, you will need to bring your own towel if you need to use one there or use the same one that was given to you on boat. Make sure you remember where to put it when leaving the boat for your dives as we have problems mixing it with other divers.
The DMs were all excellent and very acknowledgeable. I get to dive with 2 different DMs during my time there. Obviously Sipadan is a place not to miss with excellent dive sites and lots to see. DM Sorian is young, quite new as a DM but extremely funny and energetic with lots of expressions even underwater! He is really good in pointing out the micro stuff and to allow you time to take pics. Brian on the other hand is very experienced. We definitely plan to go back again to dive with them.
The only thing during this trip will be:
(1) We got signed up for the 5:30am Sipadan dive while there was another group starting at 9:00am. When we asked the receptionist why at 5:30am; she only informed us that it was to "see some special fish". The choice of whether we want to see it wasn't even given to us. Simply because some group of divers want to see the fish, thus they have also put us in. We requested to change and ended up at the 9am group instead.
(2) We have requested to dive more than 1 day at Sipadan and was told that "yes, if slots free up". However, there was no waiting list visible; thus we have no idea how they decide which divers to allow the extra permits. At the end, we didn't end up diving there more than the scheduled 1 day
(3) Our stay was during Easter holidays and thus the place was quite crowded. There were various group of divers from Hong Kong but specifically some very bad experience with a group from Diving Express in HK. The divers are rude and cursed very loudly in Chinese at the dinning hall. As I do understand Chinese, I was quite shock at what they were saying so loudly about. And at the end of my stay, 1 diver was pouring water on his friend (who happened to be standing on of the stairs, smoking and feeding fish with bread. Seems like he have no issues about dropping the cigarette ash into the ocean) and happened to be very near us and have gotten us a little wet. So I have just warned them to not get us wet as we were in our plain clothes, sitting to wait for our boat to leave the island. This Hong Kong guy seemed pissed and immediately started cursing loudly and calling me names -- all of course in Chinese while his group of divers did not bother to say 1 word to stop him. The curses were very low-class which will related something like "motherfxxxxx". This continued for 15 mins until I stood up and started screaming back at him in English; it was only then that his friend pulled him away BUT his group which involves the DM from Diving Express continued to sit there and kept their mouth shut. So disappointed that Bureno Divers will allow such dive group in their hotels which simply have no respect for the ocean or other divers. I will NEVER recommend to dive there again if I know the same group from Hong Kong will be there. Of course, I have provided a written feedback to Borneo Divers but no reply from them on this incident.
Highly recommended diving with the DMs and staying at Borneo Divers if you get a chance. Sipadan is really not a place to miss!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the East Coast of Sabah, just off the coastline of Mabul Island, Borneo Divers Mabul Resort is passionate in showcasing the best of Borneo’s beautiful and lush marine life to the world. Mabul is arguably one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to a depth of 25 to 30m. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Borneo Divers Mabul Island Hotel Pulau Sipadan