April 27 - May 4, 2017I’ve been told that Sipadan (off the east...
April 27 - May 4, 2017
I’ve been told that Sipadan (off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo in Sabah) has some of the best scuba diving in the world, so I wanted to make a trip out there. Also, I had an Open Water certification, but wanted to move towards Advanced. You can’t stay on Sipadan Island but resorts will take you there and a friend recommended the diving resort, Scuba Junkie, so we went there. They have reasonable rates for diving.
It’s quite a trip to get out there. I flew from Lombok to Kuala Lumpur ($41.34 on AirAsia), spent the night in KL ($24.23 at Hotel Soleil), and then flew to Tawau ($36 on AirAsia). Then, there’s a long van + boat ride, but Scuba Junkie will take care of you from Tawau Airport to Mabul Beach Resort (15km way from Sipadan). I really don’t recommend staying in Semporna – but you will need to get cash there or before arriving as there are no banks or ATMs on Mabul Island.
Right when you arrive to Mabul Island, you can walk the long jetty that runs to the shore + resort. The local Bajau people live on one side of the jetty which can be a stark contrast the luxury you’ll have of the resort of catered meals and beautiful dives - but I highly recommend walking around the island and buying snacks in town! It’s great to see children playing.
All rooms include three daily meals plus afternoon snack, tea, coffee, and water. Rooms are simply decorated but clean and spacious, located just a few meters from the beach where you can swim, snorkel, dive, or simply sun bathe. Sometimes I felt a bit lost about where I was going and what was happening, but I learned that it was best to go with the flow and smile through the confusion.
The staff were all friendly and the dives were incredible. If you book accommodation so late that Scuba Junkie doesn’t have tickets for Sipadan (because they only allow so many on the island a day), walk around to the other dive resorts and pay cash for one of their tickets. We found a few resorts (e.g. Billabong, Uncle Chang, Borneo Divers) that had extra tickets for a premium price (848 Malaysian Ringgit a person for three dives with equipment). It’s the best diving I’ve ever experienced and you gotta do it if you’ve gone all that way!