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.
Destinations:Sipadan Island (Diving environment: wall diving, drift diving, advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: shark action, turtles, schooling fish/big pelagics), Mabul (Diving environment: beginner & advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: great macro life/marine diversity), and Kapalai (Diving environment: beginner & advanced divers, very popular; Highlights: great macro life/marine diversity).
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 above 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$ 133 per diver) will then be paid on arrival (if permits are obtained). Please ask us for more details.
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$ 35 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):
Malaysian tourism accommodation tax - MYR 10 per room per night (approx US$ 2). To be paid in cash at the resort. Single Supplement:
This is optional at this resort - single travellers may choose to share accommodation or elect to pay an additional charge for the sole occupancy of double/twin accommodation. Optional extras:
Single supplement on single travellers only, payable in advance. Alcoholic drinks, soft drinks. 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.
Recommended Tawau arrival flights:
From Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2121 (07:40-08:30)
From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia AK5744 (06:55-09:50)
From Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines MH 3093 (07:15-10:00)
Boat departures from Semporna to Resort are at 10:00, 12:30 and 16:30 hrs. Please note that if your flight arrives before 15:00 then you are able to make the last boat transfer at 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.
Recommended Tawau departure flights:
To Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH2134 (18:15-19:05), MH3056 (21:20-22:30). Air Asia: AK6261 (10:15-11:05) AK6263 (15:05-15:55), AK6267 (17:10-18:00), AK6265 (21:50-22:40);
To Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5747 (10:50-13:35), AK5749 (15:40-18:25), AK5741 (19:10-21:45).
To Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines: MH3092 (09:50-11:50)
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 - 1 extra person can join 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. Sipadan is approximately 25 minutes boat ride away from the resort. The Mabul sites are just a few minutes away, and Kapalai can be reached in about 12 minutes.
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.
"Diving at the resort is very well-organized, they have good equipment and logistics, professional dive masters and the staff is very friendly and helpful. The resort including the bungalows are nice, clean and quiet." - Christian Koehler, Germany, 15 June 2017 ...
"Me and my 2 friends, followed the OW course for 4 days and stayed 1 more day to join some more fun-dives. The cabins were good, nice good working aircon, except fro the bathroom wich was very wet, and toilet was not flushing very well. All staff was very friendly, and we had a great time." - Britt De Klerk, Netherlands, 25 May 2016 ...
"The service was excellent. The dive masters were knowledgeable and friendly. The facilities were very good, clean and comfortable. I did the Discover Scuba with them and they could not have been more patient or reassuring." - Bruce Smith, Canada, 14 August 2013 ...
"Dive equipment is good, Staff is excellent, facilities are average. It will be perfect if there are some plans and activity for nightlife." - Farhad Navabi, Iran, 7 July 2013 ...
"The staff were pleasant and helpful. They also seemed very organised. The facilities are nice including the swimming pool. They also have a nice spread for all 3 meals in the buffet; mostly Asian cuisine but really good food. The entire resort is in good condition for a 20 year old resort. Also people staying in SMART can use the faciltites in the connected resort, Mabul Water Bungalows. We went for massages there and had dinner there on one night at additional costs." - Pallavi Jayaprakash, India, 2 July 2013 ...
"The dive operators really knew what they were doing and manage the logistics very, very well. Dive masters, boatboys etc. all worked really well together and made each dive great fun." - Rohan George, Cambodia, 3 October 2012 ...
"I found Sipadan Mabul Resort to be amazing. Their knowledge and experience really impressed me. The accommodation was very good and there was a great variety of daily food options." - Lin Donevska, Australia, 3 September 2012 ...
"Staff were very professional, friendly and helpful. All was adequate except for face masks because they lacked different face types. The resort was well maintained and kept very clean, all facilities appeared to be well run with no issues during my stay." - Marc Wydro, Australia, 29 August 2012 ...
"The accommodation was fine and the dives were well planned and executed. Facilities and equipment were satisfactory although a few new O-rings on the tanks would not go amiss. I found some of the dives a bit rushed - would have enjoyed having a bit more time to just float and look about me. The food taken to Sipadan was very disappointing - other operators clearly provided better food for their guests. We dived 3 out of 5 days at Sipadan which was incredibly lucky - we were delighted with this." - Victoria Pearson, UK, 2 March 2012 ...
"All equipment in good condition, all sizes of wet suits and BCDs are available for rent, DIN and yoke tanks, clean and spacious dive equipment store, 3 water tanks, dive schedule is accurately observed, staff is friendly, attentive and always ready to help." - Olga Antoshina, Russia, 13 January 2012 ...
"Equipment was easy to store and find to use for dives. Orientation dive was a dog's breakfast but probably not unusual given the variety of divers level and background. Dives were well organised, groups kept fairly small however we did run out of water one day." - Annette Comerford, Australia, 25 November 2011 ...
"The chalets were clean and comfortable and very pleasant to stay in. Lovely gardens around the complex.
We were warned that you need to stay longer than 3 days without having to pay extra to visit Sipidan. This happened to us and we were offered the opportunity to visit Sipadan the day after arriving but for a price. From reading other comments on Trip Advisor we weren't surprised but it came across as a money making scheme. It was just the way it was handled that seemed wrong. However, we all got to see Sipidan so we were very pleased to have got the opportunity to do so and would recommend it to all divers." - Beverley Lorimer, New Zealand, 11 September 2011 ...
"Good. Staff were friendly and knowledgeable regarding the dive sites. Equipment was well maintained and some of it was even brand new. Staff at the resort were on the whole very friendly and helpful.
The standard room at the resort was okay. It was a little small but the major problem was the windows. The windows were not glass and you either had the choice of a hinged flyscreen covering it or a wooden door. This meant that if you wanted natural light to come through you needed to use the flyscreen which would let in the hot air from outside and also noise. Also compounding this was the fact that the lights inside the room were quite dim." - Boon Lew, Australia, 5 September 2011 ...
"Thank you for recommending SMART, we had an amazing time!! Extremely welcoming, all staff were very pleasant and friendly. The transfers went very smoothly. We were upgraded to a standalone bungalow without asking for it. Food very good. Resort beautiful. Diving amazing and dive master and crew excellent. The planning of the diving was very organised." - Claire Murphy, UK, 24 August 2011 ...
"We stayed at Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART) and had a fantastic stay. Excellent from the point where we were picked up at the airport just after arrival, during our stay and brought back to the airport. Excellent diving, guiding, accomodation food etc." - Runar Samland, Norway, 15 August 2011 ...
"Very well organized, the divemasters would pay you a visit during dinner the day before the diving to introduce themselves. Dive master paid attention to you. With some dives we had 1 dive master for only 2 divers! All equipment was ready, didn't have to fix it yourself.
Transfer was all very well organized. Facilities of restaurant was very good. Staff was really friendly and easy to access and willing to help. They were being a bit difficult about diving at Sipadan. First they said you had to stay minimum of 4 nights to get a permit for Sipadan, but eventually they did get us there, although we stayed 3 nights." - Jeanet van de Putte, Netherlands, 20 July 2011 ...
"Food could be better. For personal preference, I liked Mabul Water Bungalows more (part of the same resort) Very, very nice! I would rather stay there. But overall great. Equipment/service was great. Lucky to get a really good divemaster - King. Showed us loads of good stuff underwater." - Vera Savina, UK, 6 May 2011
"Sipadan Mabul Resort was an excellent recommendation for our diving holiday. It is purpose-built for divers, non-divers should be warned not to go!
Although it felt like a very long transfer from Kota Kinabalu-Tawau-Semporna-Mabul Island (we landed KK at 11.30 pm and finally arrived at Mabul at 10 am the next day), the operator did their best to make the transfer comfortable. We were met at Tawau airport by a friendly and efficient representative and the car/boat ride was pleasant.
The check-in at the resort was efficient and the quality of inspection by the dive master Ronny to check our licenses and take us on our Orientation Dive and review basic underwater skills was highly professional. Equipment rental is good quality and the level of crew assistance was fantastic.
Meals at the resort are canteen style and good quality. The rooms and the shower facilities are very old and basic but adequate. There was no TV or wireless which would have been good since diving finishes by 4 pm every day. The library books are mainly German language." - Stella Smith, Hong Kong, 6 May 2011 ...
"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, 6 May 2011 ...
"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, 18 February 2011 ...