- Mabul Island - Malaysia
In this review
we’ll discuss the first part of our trip to Malaysia.
Actually the entire trip was based to dive on Sipadan
The first week we stayed on Mabul, a small Island close
to Sipadan. We were guests at the Borneo Divers Resort.
(For the second part of the trip see the review
Mabul (Malay: Pulau Mabul) is a small island off the
south-eastern coast of Sabah in Malaysia.
The island has been a fishing village since the 1970s.
In the 1990s, it first became popular to divers due to
its proximity to Sipadan island. (20 min. by boat)
Located 15 km from Sipadan, this 20-hectare piece of
land surfaces 2–3 meters above sea level, consists
mostly flat grounds and aerial view is oval-shaped.
Surrounding it are sandy beaches, perched on the
northwest corner of a larger two square kilometre reef.
Mabul island is administered as a part of Semporna,
There are two main villages on the island, "Kampung
Mabul" and "Kampung Musu". They count approximately 2000
villagers, half of them children below 14 years old. The
majority are immigrants from relatively nearby clusters
of islands in the southern Philippines. They all live on
one side of the Island.
”Now we have found an untouched piece of art” – Jacques
Cousteau on Sipadan Island
The year was 1983 when Borneo Divers began their dive
trips to Sipadan, the secret oceanic paradise discovered
by Ron Holland. Subsequently, Mr. Holland welcomed
underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau and his film crew
to Sipadan Island which resulted in Mr. Cousteau’s movie
“Borneo: Ghost of the Sea Turtle”.
This documented Sipadan’s beauty and lush marine
life, bringing the island international fame.
The diving scene in Borneo exploded as a
result and prompted Clement Lee and his dive buddies, Randy
Davis, Ron Holland and Samson Shak to incorporate Borneo Divers,
the first recreational diving operations in Sabah.
In 1984, Clement Lee became a PADI dive
instructor and pioneered the very first dive school in
Tanjung Aru with the approval of PADI’s American
Inspired to share his passion for
diving with more people, Lee also founded the first
Child Academy in Sabah, produced Malaysia’s first female
dive instructor, and pioneered a multi-racial
multi-cultural dive instructor team, amongst many other
Today, Borneo Divers is still one of the leading
professional dive operation in Sabah, Malaysia.
We had a transfer by minibus via Borneo divers from
Tawau airport to Semporna, which is about an 80 minutes’
drive. In Semporna Borneo Divers has a small office in
the harbor of Semporna, from which they transported us
by boat to Mabul Island.
This was a really fast beat, and it took us around
45 minutes to reach the Island. We had a warm welcome
and after we arranged all the necessary paperwork we
could directly check-in at the dive center.
Borneo Divers Mabul Resort is ideally located on a
pristine stretch of white sand beach on the island of
Mabul. Easy access to the water provides for effortless
shore and boat diving.
The resort holds 30 wooden chalets.
All the rooms have been tastefully decorated in
traditional style. These spacious and comfortable
semi-detached chalets offer ethnic touches such as
beautifully hand-carved lamps, hand-woven tapestries or
other cultural pieces.
All chalets are located around a central garden with a
nice swimming pool. The resort starts directly at the
beach. At the end of the garden, at the opposite side of
the beach, is a building that contains the reception, a
small gift shop, conference room and the restaurant.
- air conditioning
- ceiling fan
- private verandah
- Private ensuite bathroom with hot/cold shower
- hair dryer
- writing desk
- Dressing table
- Available with twin or double beds
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- Safety-deposit box
- Size: 180 ft² / 17 m²
The rooms itself are not
overwhelmed with luxury, our room was rather basic but
it’s more than enough for divers like us.
The bathroom is the most ‘basic’ area in the chalet,
there is a sink and a shower area, warm water is
produced via an indoor electrical boiler. Daily cleaning
is done in a decent way.
Outside there’s a small outdoor terrace with a couple of
As said, it’s basic but good!
The dining hall is the center of social life at the
Borneo Divers resort.
They serve dishes of Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese
and Western Cuisines.
All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are served in
The food is really good, and has a great variety. For
divers it’s also important to know that the lunch which
is served during your daily diving trip is also very
The food is included, drinks are not included during
The Borneo Divers Mabul Island Resort features the
- Restaurant and Dining Hall
- Swimming pool
- Event and conference hall
- 3 bars (including one sunset beach bar)
- Recreational and sport facilities
- Professional underwater photo and video services
- Library and Satellite TV room
- Gift & Souvenir Shop
- Free WIFI broadband internet access
Borneo Divers has a variety of activities that will
also keep you entertained while not diving.
- Spa offering massage, manicure & pedicure
- Mini Soccer Field
- Beach Volley
- Beach Loungers and Umbrellas
- Board Games
- Babysitting Services
The dive center
Borneo Divers is a 5 star PADI IDC Dive Center and a 5
star PADI Palm resort
As said before Borneo Divers was the first dive center
which made Sipadan known around the world. Their team
consists of PADI professionals and range from
Divemasters to a Course Director. We had a very positive
experience with all of the guides we dived with. Also
the dive center and boat crew were very friendly and
The guides are really experienced divers in the waters
around Mabul and Sipadan. Just name it, and they’ll find
it for you……
And they are always in for a ‘deco beer’ at the end of
The dive center itself is located on the beach at the
end of the pier.
They also have a lounge area next to the dive center on
All your personal equipment can be stored at the dive
center, you can hire a complete set as well. They have
plenty of tanks available, including Nitrox.
There are a
couple of outdoor showers at the dive center and
facilities to rinse your gear as well.
For house reef dives there’s an easy entrance via a
large stair directly at the dive center.
From there you can also hop on the boats.
The boats all look very decent and well maintained. (And
they are fast!)
We had a very positive experience with the dive center
and the entire crew!
|Note: Diving at Sipadan
Island is limited to a certain amount of divers per day.
This is to prevent that too many divers will dive on
Sipadan at the same time and disturb / affect the
This means that you’ll need a permit to dive at Sipadan
Borneo Divers can provide you a permit, however they are
limited. (All permits are being divided over all dive
centers who are allowed to dive on Sipadan.
We were lucky that during our stay there were not many
divers at the resort. Due to that we were able to dive
on Sipadan Island every day. The ‘normal’ procedure for
diving at Sipadan (during our stay in 2013) was that for
every 3 days you stay at Borneo Divers, you can go 1 day
So don’t forget to check before you book!
Our ratings below are based on our personal
experiences. They are also adapted to our needs
as divers. Meaning that we’re less focused on
Therefore you should only pay attention to our
ratings if you’re planning a diving holiday.
Where we base our score
Room size, beds,
cleaning, bathroom, location,
environmentally friendly, etc.
activities, organized trips, TV,
Internet, phone, area etc.
Quality of equipment, boats, crew, dive
guides, location, service, marine
The Borneo Divers Resort on Mabul is a very good diving
resort. However if you don’t dive or snorkel we won’t
As said, it’s a diving resort (like most of the other
resort in this area)
The resort itself is basic but good, it has all the
facilities you need especially as a diver.
The food is also very good.
With regards to the dive center, we can be quite clear;
this is the dive center you want to dive if you’re in
this area. They have a great crew and a well-organized
Especially the personal approach and the ‘down to earth’
attitude is something that we both liked about this dive
Good equipment and facilities makes it all complete.
Besides all this, it also has a great value for money!
Therefore we can highly recommend the Borneo Dive Resort
to all divers who like to visit Sipadan.