The Sipadan Mabul Resort, or SMART as it is known locally, sits ideally on 10 acres of prime real estate on the southern shore of the island of Mabul. It's all chalets on a sandy white beach, dotted with palm trees here - the winner of our 'Dive Resort of the Year' award in 2009, a true paradise.
Mabul is truly blessed with its prime location in being able to offer diving at nearby Sipadan Island in addition to its own world-renowned macro scuba havens, and that of Kapalai too. We know the diving here is excellent and that you'll probably want to see as much as you can. That's why Mabul beach dives are free of charge and enriched air nitrox is available.
Sipadan Mabul is perhaps the best equipped of the resorts here for non-diver activities. It has its own swimming pool and there are sea kayaks available for when you're feeling energetic and fancy having a look around the island by sea. The resort also has free wi-fi available for guests and if you are a single person you can share a room with another guest.
If you want to get in touch with local cultures and people, the nearby fishing village provides a great venue for meeting and getting to know the locals.
Sipadan Island, Mabul and Kapalai. When park guest permit numbers allow, there is a 3 dives in Sipadan (including packed lunch). Alternatively it will be a 3 dives per day around Mabul or Kapalai. No scuba on day of departure. The number of dives quoted in the packages below is based on 3 dives per full diving day.
Sipadan Mabul Resort offers a guaranteed visit to Sipadan Island with a minimum 6 days / 5 nights dive package in the Stand Alone Chalets. Permits to Sipadan island are not transferable. For shorter packages or for diving Sipadan more often, there is still the chance to purchase permits on arrival, depending on availability. It is possible to pre-book the extra permits, by filling an entry permit purchase order form while booking the resort. By filling the form the chances of obtaining permits are better. Permit fees and diving service (approx. US$ 127 per diver) will then be paid on arrival (if permits are obtained). Please ask us for more details.
For more guaranteed dives at Sipadan, please check MV Celebes Explorer.
Resort diving includes:
Dives (as detailed in the packages above), unlimited self-guided shore and night dives at the resort’s house reef, boat rides to sites, experienced English-speaking divemaster (maximum 10 divers per DM), tanks, weights and weightbelts, Semporna jetty fee, drinking water, hot drinks, snacks. Diving excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own):
Scuba equipment (approx. US$ 47 per day), Sipadan permit fee (approx. US$ 10 per person per day). Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival (cash or credit card). Optional extras:
Extra boat dives (Mabul/Sipadan), night boat dives (Mabul), dive computer, nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers (approx. US$ 11 per tank), scuba insurance, soft drinks. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
Resort accommodation includes:
Bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking water, hot drinks, snacks, return resort transfers from Tawau airport, internet access. Accommodation excludes (mandatory):
None. Optional extras:
Alcoholic drinks, soft drinks. If you are a single person you can share with another person or pay in advance for a single supplement to get your own bungalow. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
How to get there:
The resort is located along the southern beachfront of Mabul Island. It is a 40 minute speedboat ride from the port of Semporna. The resort will provide a return transfer from Tawau Airport to Semporna and Mabul.
Tawau arrival flights:
From Kota Kinabalu: Air Asia: AK 6260 (09:00-09:50); Malaysia Airlines: MH2121 (07:20-08:05), MH 3051 (08:50-10:00), MH2137 (14:10-15:00)
From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia AK5744 (07:15-10:05), AK 5746 (10:40-13:35); Malaysia Airlines MH 2660 (07:30-10:20)
From Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines MH 3093 (08:55-09:35)
You will have to wait at Tawau Airport for the transfer if your flight arrives to Tawau less than 1 hour before the next flight. Boat departures from Semporna to Resort are at 10:00, 12:30 and 16:30 hrs. Diving on arrival day is only possible if you arrive to the resort on 10:00 hrs boat schedule. Please be ready at Seafest hotel's lobby at least 30 minutes before the scheduled boat departure if you transfer to Semporna overland from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan or Lahad Datu.
Tawau departure flights:
To Kota Kinabalu: Air Asia: AK6261 (10:15-11:05), AK6263 (17:25-18:15), AK6265 (21:50-22:40); Malaysia Airlines: MH3052 (12:45-13:45), MH2134 (15:40-16:30), MH3056 (20:50-21:50)
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5745 (10:30-13:10), AK5747 (14:00-16:45), AK5749 (15:30-18:15), AK5741 (18:50-21:35); Malaysia Airlines: MH2661 (11:05-13:45). MH2665 (18:20-21:00)
To Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines: MH3092 (09:55-10:35), MH3104 (20:15-21:05)
Transfer times from SMART to Tawau Airport are 06:30, 11:00 and 14:00 hrs. Please plan 3 hours between resort departure and flight departure time.
Note that you will have to stay overnight in Tawau or Semporna if you arrive or depart on any flight which is not mentioned the above. Unscheduled or private boat transfer can be arranged with additional surcharge for individual and group. For more details see our Sipadan resorts travel section. Flight information changes frequently. You are responsible for booking the correct flights.
Dive clubs and group discounts:
Groups of 10 guests or more will receive an additional 1 extra place free of charge.
If this is your only planned visit to Borneo Malaysia then we strongly recommend that you consider a 2 night add-on stay at the Sepilok Nature Resort, Sandakan in Sabah, to allow you to witness the not-to-be-missed jungle adventures with orang-utans.
When park guest permit numbers allow, there is a 3 or 4 dive trip to Sipadan (including packed lunch). Alternatively it will be a 3 dive day around the great macro sites of Mabul and Kapalai.
Dive boats are:
6 fibreglass boats and 1 wooden boat
Maximum 10 divers per boat
Optional personalised underwater video service
Divemasters are provided on all trips, as well as drinking water, hot drinks and lunch.
Extra interest excursions include guided dives into Turtle Cavern at Sipadan, and dives on the SMART-sponsored artificial reef at Mabul - quite a success story. Specialty diving, such as a Sipadan night dive or an early morning dive to see the thresher sharks and hammerheads, can also be arranged on arrival. Sipadan is approximately 25 minutes ride away from Mabul.
Sipadan Mabul Resort offers both recreational and technical diving, with nitrox forming the most popular request in the latter category. Unlimited and unguided shore dives with your own buddy are available free of charge.
Currently, the nearest re-compression chamber for diving emergencies is located in Semporna on the Borneo mainland, 30 minutes boat ride away. We strongly recommend that you have your own insurance to cover diving emergencies.
Although the dive boats do not carry oxygen, the resort has oxygen on site and it is also available at Sipadan Island. The boats do carry first aid kits, fire extinguishers and life jackets.
For non-diving related emergencies, there is a hospital also in Semporna.
Mabul has a local police station and, in the interests of tourist safety, armed guards patrol the island 24 hours per day.
"The divemaster genuinely wanted us to have the very best experience for every dive; she worked hard to make this happen. The on-the-boat service was also excellent. Really liked the storage bin process at the dive shop. There was always fresh water available to rinse our equipment." - Marie Winkler-Sink, USA ...
"The entire staff were very friendly and obliging. The dive equipment was state of the art and well maintained. Furthermore the board and lodging was excellent, too. To sum up, I'd like to say that we felt like in paradise. The place is not easy to top." - Tobias Neier, Austria ...
"Excellent diving trips, divemasters are very good and friendly. Animations width music or enything else in the evening, will be nice. And unfortunately we can't get bungalows on water." - Zoran San, Slovenia ...
"The staff was extremely friendly and helpful with all of our needs. There was always someone around, if you needed anything you didn't need to look far ... The boat captain and assistant were also great - always a smile and laugh for you. Excellent service from helping you into your BCD to serving tea at the surface intervals ... The divemaster was wonderful. Extremely knowledgeable about the sites. And interested in showing you whatever you wanted to see. Somehow they always managed to find it, no matter how small or rare." - Ahlinn Yamane, Hawaii, USA ...
"Wonderful chalet, relaxed atmosphere, friendly service, nice people, beautiful surroundings, good food, great diving." - Stefanie Schulen, Germany ...
"Very nice resort on a beautiful island. Very professional staff at all levels making us feel very welcome. Equipment and boats were of excellent standard and run by people who knew what they were doing." - Jon Ultimateangling, UK ...
"The SMART diving staff were friendly, professional, very attentive and saftey conscious, making our dives really wonderful experiences where we could just concetrate on the superb marine life without any worries. Patrick was our dive guide and he was brilliant and so were the boat staff. Both the equipment and facilities were great too. There were always books on hand to help us identify the marine life we had seen. We couldn't fault the dive team, their equipment and facilities.
The atmosphere of the resort was very friendly and the food was excellent. The rooms were good too, although we could have done with a mosquito net, and the shower was very weak. The rooms and resort were kept very clean. The transfer to the resort ran very smoothly indeed. We were very impressed!" - Nadia Lanman, UK ...
"NICE SERVICE, SMILING AND HELPFUL STAFF, EVERYTHING WAS WORKING AND HIGH STANDARD." - Jesper Lund, Denmark ...
"Every aspect of the service was excellent. From the pickup at the airport to the greeting, had a really great time there. Great food, friendly staff." - Ben Connelly, Australia ...
"Staff were extremely friendly and competent and flexible." - Peter Wallace, Vanuatu ...
"Everything was up to date and the dive operator and staff were all amicable. This was my first experience diving and the entire experience was great. I couldn't have asked for a more personable staff." - Danny Doncan, USA ...
"Staff were great - from dive master to boat operators and helpers - friendly, approachable and knowledgeable." - Gek Me Lim, Australia ...
"We had a wonderful vacation. The diving was incredible, facilities were good. Rental equipment was very good; dive staff very professional." - Kate Killberg, USA ...
"A resort created for the divers ... every details have been thought of keeping in mind divers expectations. Excellent dive equipement, optimized diving schedule and absolutely amazing staff." - Letitia Lair, France ...
"It was GREAT !!! Specially the staffs around made us just feel at home, rather better than home. They are so cheerful, humble, hospitable, courteous, patient and customer ervice oriented. The equipments were well maintained keeping in view the safety standards. The place where they were stored was really good. Really mouth watering, fresh and tasty food. The facilities provided were second to none." - Ali Reza Tehrani, India ...
"Everything was excellent except for the pre-dive briefings which I thought were always too short and didn't give enough information, e.g. no diagram of the dive site, very basic description of the dive site, no information about wildlife that could be expected to be observed. Also, the DMs did not take time to discuss what was seen or give personal feedback on diving skills etc. The DMs were lovely people but I feel could offer more to the guest diver to make the dive experience better." - Andrew Spedding, UK ...
"Staff was very helpful, organized, knowledgeable and accommodating. The facilities were good, relaxed and comfortable. The only thing we didn't like was the fact that the boats ran on 2 stroke motors which stank (lots of blue smoke) and left oil slicks on the water. I think it would greatly improve the enjoyment of the trip if the boats used better 4 stroke motors.
Also we found that the amount of litter on the beach and in the water disturbing. I know the village contributes greatly to that problem and the resort tries to keep things tidy but when you see plastic bottles and bags and cans floating on this beautiful piece of paradise it makes you wonder.
The staff were excellent. The food was adequate but was often not kept very hot. Most meals were lukewarm. Personally I'd like to see more fruit and fresh vegetables." - Cynthia Nyboer, Canada ...
"I certainly had a great time. Everything was brilliant and I was really pleased. 5 out of 5 all round. The attention to detail was brilliant by the staff." - Richard Chere, UK ...
"The whole experience with Sipadan Mabul Resort was fantastic and memorable. We had a very warm welcome the moment we were picked up by the boatman in Semporna. The resort is extremely organised and the service overall was excellent.
We were very impressed with how they were on time for every dive planned and also for the way they organised/ assembled/ cared for our diving gears. We loved the fact that the staff on the boat even remembered everyone's diving gears and helped us to get ready before each dive and they were all friendly and helpful. The divemasters were also very friendly and professional. We enjoyed our dives so much that we are missing the islands now. The food was good and enough to eat, and we enjoyed our room as well." - Ennee Schultz, Australia ...
"The boatmen were excellent and our dive master was okay. We were on one drift dive with 11 people with one guide! The best diver to guide ratio was when we went to Sipadan and there were 7 divers which was great. We rented BCDs and regs and all were newer.
The facility was very nice. Our first room did not have hooks, hangers or a safe and it faced the village so a little noisy. An individual cabana was available after our first night and it was much better and the bathroom was a huge improvement. The price difference was not great so in the future you might mention that to customers.
The tax an alcohol is really high and the best buy is the wine. I ordered a mixed drink that was very small with little if any alcohol and cost about 18 US$." - Tamara Johnston, Guam ...