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“Works like clockwork, good choice”

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Scuba Junkie Hotel & Diving
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Works like clockwork, good choice”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 March 2013 via mobile

I had a 4d/3n package in the resort in mabul, and this place is an excellent choice for divers- everything literally works like clockwork. The planning is meticulous, there is always a list on a board or a person telling you where you need to be and when, kit is put together, changes between dives, and cleaned at end of the day without you lifting a finger- v impressive!

The resort itself is nicer than I expected- lots of trees and flowers, well laid out, good little bit of beach. Food is ok, in an institutional kind of way, but always plenty of fruit at meals which is nice. I stayed in a dorm- good value if travelling alone, but even with 7 fans in the dorm it got really really hot- they really do need AC in the dorms.

Dive staff are mostly British, and very competent. I'd say the one downside is that because the place is so large/turnover of tourists so high, you pretty much get a different dive master every day, so not much opportunity to get to know your dm. Saying that, the staff were all friendly and helpful (although watch out for the occasional tongue lashing of the serious manager, ceris).

The diving was great! I particularly loved the diving round Mabul- paradise and awas sites were excellent. Sipadan itself was lovely, but if you are an experienced diver and know you've seen other pristine reefs, I'd say the extra cost for the day at sipadan isn't totally worth it. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely, but when all my dives costs 795 ringgit, and then the day at sipadan costs an additional approx 700 ringgit (ie just for getting there), scuba junkies are obviously making a killing on this.

  • Stayed March 2013
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Helpful?
2 Thank Gemma050982
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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165 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (20)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
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English first
Vejle, Denmark
Level Contributor
184 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 January 2013

I took my Open Water and Advanced certificate at Scuba Junkie, and were very satiesfied. The instructors are deeply professional and I felt safe all the way through. Many of them are English, and therefore language is not a barriere...
The hotel is an average hotel, but location perfect. But nothing beats the atmosphere at the hotel and you'll meet a lot of people here....

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Peterkjeldsen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 December 2012

I stayed with Scuba Junkies for 10 days as part of a longer trip in Asia. It was fairly easy to organise the trip as they respond promptly to emails and arrange a pick-up from Tawau airport (at a cost). I stayed for one night at the Backpackers in Semporna, and really the place was quite awful. The member of staff on duty when I arrived was rude and non-communicative. As I had booked for a longer stay, I would at least have expected him to give me some information about transferring to Mabul in the morning but of course this was not forthcoming, and neither was even any information on breakfast (i.e. times, where etc). What was worse, though, was that he left me to remove dirty bedsheets from the bed I would be sleeping in as he disappeared never to return. Not something I enjoyed, I have to say. The Backpackers itself was dirty and smelly, and I didn't even want to take a shower there as it was so gross. I was pretty glad to only have one night there. Yes, the backpackers is cheap, but there are plenty of much nicer places to stay in Semporna. I think Scuba Junkies are trading on their reputation with the backpacker crowd.

I found out about breakfast and transferring to Mabul from someone in my dorm, and so in the morning I had breakfast (perfectly adequate given that it was a Western breakfast i.e. you never get much choice for this in Asia) and made my way over to the Scuba Junkies dive shop. There was no welcome, and the staff were fairly busy just chatting with each other which made it difficult to ask for any information. When I eventually managed to sit down with someone to go over the plan for getting to Mabul and giving my details, the guy was fairly brusque and was verging on slightly agressive when I asked about the possibilities of going to Sipadan (I had booked fairly last minute and so was told there were no guarantees - which I accepted).

The boat trip out to Mabul was fine, and the accomodation on Mabul was a real welcome relief from the Backpackers in Semporna. The dorm room was really very nice and clean, the resort is set up very nicely and the central building has a nice big dining room and bar upstairs. Also, the resort is set on a nice patch of beach - which I think most of the other dive resorts don't really have.

However, despite the accomodation being very nice my experience with the diving was mixed. As I was staying for a longer period of time, I would really have like to go over the diving options with someone but there never seemed to be anyone available or willing to do this. The system for signing up to diving is fairly unclear for newcomers, and so you can end up being left off of the list if you haven't spoken to the right people - they put names up on a board, and you are expected to have told someone beforehand that you want to dive the next day. I would have preferred to set up a plan for my time there, but this doesn't seem to be the way this place works. I think, overall, that they don't cater well for longer-term stayers.

As I hadn't dived for a while, my first dive was a refresher with Michaela. This was great - I felt very safe with her, and she really helped me to get back into the swing of things. We dived just off of the jetty, but the sealife there was amazing - turtles, lots of colourful fish and even a big school of squid. After 2 dives with just me and Michaela (and another divemaster student who was brilliant - really enthusiastic about the wildlife), we went out with another diver and divemaster. This was nice, but the other diver had absolutely no buoyancy control and kept crashing into me - people really shouldn't do this!

After this, I pretty much went diving every day. As mentioned, the system for signing up to diving is fairly basic and there appears to be no real choice as to where you dive - Scuba Junkies only seem to take people to sites very close to Mabul (presumably to save on cost) when I have heard that there are much nice sites further afield. Another diver said that she had asked whether Scuba Junkies could organise a group of divers to go further afield, but they didn't seem keen on this and so it was left up to divers to try to do this - difficult, given that the people at the resort changed almost daily. There was a real tendancy to take people to the same places, with no account taken for those who were staying for longer. This is a real shame given the wealth of diving sites there. I suppose I could have tried to be more pushy, but sometimes you just don't feel comfortable about doing this.

The diving in this area is often fantastic. There are so many turtles that you almost become a bit blase, and there are beautful corals and fish. The quality of the dive instructors was, however, mixed. Some divemasters were great - very attentive and always looking for interesting things to show you. Others (including Simon and Astrid) make it a race so you feel that you are constantly swimming with no time to enjoy what you are seeing - this is really not acceptable, as often I couldn't even see Astrid and so if I had had any problems I would undoutedly have been in real trouble. I would have thought that all dive instructors would be aware that just swimming off as fast as they could, only looking back every 5 minutes or so is really dangerous. I also had one dive that had to be aborted because the dive instructors hadn't picked up on the strong currents beforehand, and we had all gone down only to be swept along at about 50 miles an hour! There was a much more experienced diver on this dive, and even he said that this should never have happened.

I did manage to go to Sipadan for one day (I got lucky as a space came up), and it really is worth the hype. Diving with sharks is something that I never thought I would do, and the place is just so dramatic that all other sites just pale into comparison. If you managed to get to Mabul, it really is a shame if you can't go there. Scuba Junkies does do 4 dives at Sipadan, so you do get value for money, but I was diving with Astrid (as mentioned above) and so some of my dives were just a bit of too much swimming! I understand that these dive instructors want you to see as much as possible, but surely they should make sure that everyone is keeping up? I'm not a particularly slow swimmer, or hugely unfit, but I was actually gasping for air underwater, which wasn't very pleasant. But this doesn't undermine the fact that Sipadan is beautiful, and I'm really very lucky to have been able to see it. I would really recommend that if you are unable to get a permit from Scuba Junkie, plan to go to another resort for a couple of days. I heard that at Seaventures, they had so many permits that some divers were going to Sipadan everyday. The other resorts are more expensive althought the price for diving at Sipadan is (I think) often the same, andI think its worth it if you have come all the way out here.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at Scuba Junkies but there were a number of things that just weren't quite right, and which would have made my stay excellent. I think the dive instructors need to up their game, and be more in tune with the needs of their customers. This would include trying to be a bit more friendly to the customers that have dived with them, and not having a "staff-only" table in the restaurant where you felt that really you couldn't sit down with them. Having said this, many of the other staff members (i.e. not the dive instructors) were great - they remembered your name and were always smiling and saying hello (including a guy in the equipment hut - he was lovely) - if everyone was like this, this place could be great. I also think that Scuba Junkies are much more eco-conscious than the other dive resorts, but this is not always put into practice as often the instructors don't pick up rubbish on the dives. There also seems to be a lot of "talk" about all of the things that they do with the environment (i.e. a weekly beach clean-up) but I'm not sure if this is always true - for example, I didn't see a beach clean-up for the whole 10 days I was there. They are, however, championing the establishment of a shark sanctuary which can only be a good thing.

As for the area, it really is a magnificent part of the world. But you can see that Western habits and the demands of a growing population are putting a real strain on this fragile environment which is very sad. The sea gypsies living on Mabul have terrible habits, and they are really going some way to destroying their own livelihood with dynamite fishing and the amount of rubbish. Its a real eye-opener, and something that really makes you think about our own habits when you get home.

Stayed November 2012, travelled solo
Helpful?
6 Thank Katie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 December 2012

Scuba Junkie is a well oiled machine. A pleasant surprise in this part of the world. They are thorough, responsive, and come through on everything. The food is great at both Semporna and Mabul. If you can afford to stay at Mabul the whole time, I recommend it. Semporna (the town) is a bit of a dump, but not terrible. Scuba Junkies accommodations are nice and clean, the staff is excellent at both properties. The diving is just incredible. If you can afford it I def recommend spending 6 days, to get 2 at Sipidan. It will only increase your chances of seeing something big. I only had one day and still loved it though. The staff and dive guides are amazing, very knowledgeable and friendly. No complaints at all.

Room Tip: There is no swimming pool. It wont let me change that.
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ambcha12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 December 2012

Not being a diver, I went for a two-day open water course and then one day of fun diving. Everything runs pretty smoothly, although some people at the counter in Semporna could be more friendly... The stay I did in Mabul Island was just great, in a very nice secluded island in lovely bungalows. As to the diving, it was simply above everything I could ever imagine. My instructor was really competent and super-friendly, I was alone in my group so we finished in a day and half instead of two, so I got one extra (free) dive. I saw amazing fishes and my instructor made sure I had a great time: we had a couple drinks at night, and talked a lot over lunch and dinner. I would definitely recommend it.

Some people mention the sadness of seeing some very poor people on the island: I'm afraid this is true.

Stayed November 2012, travelled solo
Helpful?
2 Thank Jonathan P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 December 2012

We are just back from our 6 day stay in Semporna and Mabul. We stayed in the Hostel in Semporna and the Beach Resort in Mabul and we had a blast of a time. All rooms were excellent, nicely refurbished and very clean. The staff absolutly lovely especially in the dive school. Well managed trips and equipment which is up to scratch. We thought it is a absolut amazing value for money.

Room Tip: Dorms or private room, they all look lovely.
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank katjathe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 November 2012

I went to mabul island with SJ and stayed in mabul resort.the trip was well organised and I loved staying on the island!!!!The dive masters working for SJ were awesome.i was travelling on my own but didn't feel alone at all.after I returned to semporna I dined at sucba junkie,food was great and it is a good place to meet other divers!!

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank silvi111
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
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Semporna
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 21 Speciality 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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