Mabul is a small island in the east of Malaysia Borneo and is known for it’s diving. Nearby, you find Sipadan which should be divers Mekka. If you wanna go diving here, you have to book far in advance (3 months or even more). They only allow 120 people per day to go diving here. But what we heard of it, is amazing! We did some diving around the island Mabul itself and that wasn’t that bad as well.
We left the Kinabatangan River jungle at 8.30 am, got dropped at the junction where another bus was waiting for us to bring us to Semporna for 50 Ringgit pp. This bus ride took about 4 hours. We arrived here around 1.30 pm.
We booked our diving and accommodation at Scuba Junkie. Because we arrived at Scuba Junkie at around 2 pm, and didn’t want to stay in Semporna but on the island Mabul, we were a bit in a hurry and maybe decided a bit to quick. The prices for the accommodation where quiet high. We paid 195 Ringgit p.p. for a room for 3 persons. This does include meals but was way over our budget (which is 185 ringgit for 2 persons p.d.) And the room isn’t really that much special. It is really clean, it does have both aircon and a fan and looks nice from the outside.
The food however was really good and always enough. It is a buffet and you can eat as much as you want. The common area is nice as well with lot’s of places to chill out, drink a beer and share your experiences with other divers and they have sweet internet.
After 2 days of diving and because we had a flight from Tawau airport the next day (about 1,5 hour out of Semporna) we did book 1 night at the Scuba Junkie guesthouse in Semporna. This is something we don’t recommend. The prices are cheap, compared to staying on the island, but still expensive. You pay 75 Ringgit for a double room with shared shower. The rooms are to dirty to touch, we expected a bit more from Scuba Junkie. Besides this we didn’t like Semporna. There are a lot of restaurants at the waterside but is smelled terrible when we were there. The restaurant on the side of the street of Scuba Junkie was to expensive but we did find a nice Indian place a but further along the street where the food was really cheap and tasteful.
Leave Semporna as soon as possible and do stay at Mabul Island. At least, when you are a diver. Other wise if you don’t dive, then what are you doing here? Skip this place! Don’t expect Mabul Island to be a place to get tanned, you have other places in Malaysia where you can do that. Diving and snorkeling is the thing to do here and that’s what we did.
In total we went on 6 dives. The original plan was to go for 1 day and do 3 dives, but because there is really nothing else to do on the island, and the weather wasn’t that great, we decided to go for 3 more dives. And we have to say, our dive instructor Catherine had something to do with it as well. We aren’t that enthusiastic about the accommodation of Scuba Junkie (at least about the value for money), but we are about their dive instructors. And the diving itself is quite cheap actually. The more dives you do, the cheaper it gets (per dive).
About the diving. It wasn’t the most awesome diving we’ve done, but we did see some really cool new things like the crocodile flathead, longhorn cowfishes, bluespine unicorn and many other fish with ridiculous names! Of course we also saw the ‘usual’ underwater animals such as giant turtles, cuttlefish (which changed color), morays, triggerfishes (which were quite aggressive) and many more.
All of the dive sites are really close by so no long day on the boat. For lunch you even go back to the resort, where you can already start filling in your logbook.
If you have some specific things you want to see or do, tell them at the reception. They really try to please you. And do try to go to Sipidan. One of the guys we met was number 9 or something on the waiting list, and they woke him up early in the morning because they had a spot for him. And what we heard from him was that the diving was amazing. He saw bull sharks, big schools of tuna, lot’s of turtles and the wall dives were amazing. We were a bit jealous when he told us..