If crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and the experience of diving in an aquarium is what you are after then look no further then Sipadan Mabul, Borneo. A place where the fish are plentiful, turtles and sharks become the norm and you find yourself completely in awe of mother natures island life.
How to get there & back again:
I would highly recommend flying in from KUL direct to Tawau which takes approximately 1.5 hours and flights are quite cheap through Air Asia &/or Malaysia Airlines. However, you can also fly direct to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu which is only a 45 minute flight. We flew with Malaysian Airlines and have had great service. They also include 30kg checked baggage in their fare price whereas Air Asia charge extra.
From the airport you will need to make your way to Semporna.
You can share a mini van or grab your own taxi. A private taxi will cost you roughly 150 RM. If you travel direct to Mabul your dive resort can collect you from the airport which is recommended. We were fortunate enough to be collected by Siapadan divers who took us for 30RM each to Semporna.
From Semporna it is about a 45 minute boat ride which is beautiful. If you need to stay the night here then I’d advise a stay at Dragon Floating Inn. The VIP room is absolutely huge and it’s a fun experience living/sleeping over the water. For drinks and food hit up Skyline Restaurant for good, cheap food, great service and a lovely view.
To return your dive resort will arrange your return to the airport inclusive of boat and land transfers.
Eat, Sleep, Dive, Repeat:
I cannot recommend Borneo Divers enough. The resort is absolutely wonderful, the staff are fantastic, the food is excellent and the guaranteed Sipadan dive with your 4night stay is worth it totally within itself.
We had a highly entertaining Christmas Eve held by the staff with the most spectacular Christmas feast. The dive resort has its own house reef with sunken police boats, ships, a motorbike with a cart and easily accessible for night dives.
We found our stay there much more affordable then first intended as all your meals, dive tanks, weights and weight belt are included and dive equipment rental is quite cheap for the amount of diving you can do. In 4 nights and 5 days we did 15 dives and hire of BCD, regulator and fins came to 440RM for 2 people.
I would recommend bringing your own mask and dive computer if you have one. However, full gear hire is 95RM per day plus 30 RM if you need a computer. You can also hire wetsuits although we dove with just shorts and short sleeved rash shirts without a problem. Next time though I’d bring a long sleeved rash shirt to eliminate any possible stings.
To those who wish for deeper relaxation Borneo Divers also have their own day spa with 60 min relaxation massages starting from 128 RM. For the thirsty don’t be alarmed you’re covered too with the pool bar, jetty bar, beach bar and dining hall bar available to quench your thirst. Prices are about 24 RM for large bottles of beer or 20 RM if you wish to stroll next door to Scuba Junkie.
How do I pay?
You accumulate a tab during your stay which can be settled upon check out and yes this can be paid via card. Therefore you do not need cash on the Island but if you intend to drink elsewhere then I would advise getting cash out before arriving in Semporna.
There are no ATMs on the island and 1 available in Semporna (Maybank – near the mosque) which was out of order right before we departed for the island. I would utilise the airport ATMs to save any unnecessary stress in such a relaxing part of the world. At Tawau airport ATMs can be located at the bottom of the stairs leading to the departure section which can be found to the right of airport arrivals.
Time of Travel: Late December 2016