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Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART)

Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART)
From USD 82 per day
Shore dives
Max 50
At a glance...
  • Winner of our 'Dive Resort of the Year' award
  • Technical diving centre
  • Swimming pool and whirlpool spas
  • Beach activities and sea kayaks
  • Single persons can share a room
  • Offers full board and diving packages
Customer reviews
Very good!421

Click on an image to enlarge

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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Accommodation and Diving Package Prices...

 Prices valid until 31 December 2024

 Click 'Request' to send an inquiry for your preferred dive package:

All Year Round 24 - 1 April 2024 to 31 December 2024
Days Nights Price per diver Price per non-diver Single supplement
(see note below)

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More Package Details....
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 entry permit numbers allow, there is a 2 dives in Sipadan and 1 dive in Mabul. 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.

Note:  Sipadan Mabul Resort offers a guaranteed visit to Sipadan Island with a minimum 6 days / 5 nights dive package. Permits to Sipadan island are not transferable. For shorter packages or for diving at Sipadan more often, there is still the chance to purchase permits on arrival, depending on availability. Cost (incl. permit fees and diving service: US$ 166 per day including 6% SST (8% from 1 March 2024)). With effect from 1 October 2022, it is mandatory for all guests to have at least an Advanced Open Water certification to dive in Sipadan.

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 (US$ 37 per day), Sipadan park permit fee (US$ 94 per day +8% SST). 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, torch, nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers (US$ 9 per tank), scuba insurance, soft drinks. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival. Note: prices of items purchased on site are subject to change.
Important note: All divers must take their passport and diving license (minimum: advanced certification), or a printed copy of it, to the Sipadan Island marine park office for presentation. The Sipadan authorities do not accept a digital copy of a diving license and divers that are unable to verify their qualification status will not be permitted to dive.

Resort accommodation includes:  Bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking water, hot drinks, snacks, return resort transfers from Tawau airport/hotels only, internet access, sales and service tax (SST) on package prices.
Accommodation excludes (mandatory):  Sabah tourism accommodation tax - US$ 2 per room per night. Unless otherwise stated, all the listed items need to be paid on arrival.
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/hotels to Semporna and Mabul.

Recommended Tawau arrival flights:
From Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airlines: MH4706 (07:00-07:50); Air Asia: AK6260 (09:05-10:00), AK6266 (12:25-13:20).
From Kuala Lumpur: Air Asia: AK5744 (06:15-09:10), AK5746 (08:40-11:30); Malaysia Airlines: MH2660 (07:15-10:10), MYAirline: Z98903 (06:15-09:10).
From Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines MH 3061 (10:35-11:15).
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 or Seafest Marina jetty in Semporna 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: Air Asia: AK6261 (10:25-11:15), AK6267 (13:45-14:35), AK6263 (19:50-20:45), AK6273 (21:50-22:40).
To Kuala Lumpur: AK5747 (11:55-14:45), AK5749 (16:05-18:50), AK5752 (20:55-23:45); Malaysia Airlines: MH2661 (11:05-13:55).
To Sandakan: Malaysia Airlines: MH3062 (11:40-12:20).
Transfer times from Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART) to Tawau Airport are at 07:00, 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. If your flight out of Tawau is before 10:00 hrs you must depart the resort 1 day earlier for overnight stay in Semporna or Tawau. Unscheduled or private boat transfer can be arranged with additional surcharge for individual and group.
For guests staying in Semporna area, please make your own way to meet the 1st boat transfer at 10 am. Guests must standby at the Seafest Hotel or Seafest Marina jetty in Semporna by 9.30 am, as the speed boat will depart on time. If you miss the boat transfer then it is possible to wait for next scheduled boat transfer available at 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
For more information 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.

Add-on package:  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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Rooms, Beds, Bathrooms, Views...
There are 3 Suite chalets (9.5x8.5m/31x28 ft or 10.5x10.5m/34x34 f) and 22 Stand alone chalets (8.5x6.5m/28x22 ft) (standard semi-detached chalets (are no longer operational). All chalets are closer to the beach.

All the chalets have:
  • Air-conditioning with individual controls
  • Sea-facing balcony
  • Satellite TV channels
  • Fan cooling
  • Mini bar
  • Private shower with hot and cold
  • Bedside lamps
  • WIFI internet access
  • Safety box
  • Seating
Hot water in all rooms ensures comfortable washing off after a day of diving and lying on the beach. Air conditioning keeps all cool in the tropical climate.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Diving Details...
When park guest permit numbers allow, there is a 2 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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Facilities, Location, Recreation...
Sipadan Mabul Resort has its own pool, a Jacuzzi and a beachfront bar. E-6 slide processing and videography facilities are also available here.

Resort facilities include: Bar - Swimming pool - Jacuzzi whirlpool spas - Ocean kayak - Beach volleyball - Basketball - Broadband internet (free of charge) - International telephone and fax - Reading room - Fishing trip tour organisation - Gift shop - Technical diving centre - Underwater video centre - Massage - Laundry

Location: South coast Mabul Island, near Sipadan, Sabah

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Menu, Cuisine Type, Specialities...
You can expect 3 meals daily, served buffet style at the neighbouring sister resort, Mabul Water Bungalows. The food served here comprises a selection of local and Western favourites, with seafood the main staple of the diet. Guests can either walk (takes about 5 minutes) or they can request for buggy transport.

Meals available:
  • Buffet style dining
  • Seafood
  • Chinese and western cuisine
  • Meat - beef and chicken, BBQ
  • Stir fried dishes
  • Vegetables, soups and salads
  • Rice and noodles
  • Fresh coconut juice
Vegetarian food is available, but it's not the greatest.

Complimentary buffet breakfast - fruit juice, coffee, tea, toast, cakes, croissants, pancakes, fruit, cereals, eggs, sausage, rice, noodles and soup.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Dive Safety, Resort Security...
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.

The dive boats carry oxygen. The resort also 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.

 English spoken by divemasters  Japanese spoken by divemasters  Divemasters cakap Bahasa Malay  Hokkien spoken by divemasters  Deutschsprachige Divemaster Inquire Now

Customer reviews:

Customer rating - Very good
"The authorities on Sipadan accept the digital PADI licence from the phone!
Chatting with real people from Dive The World on the web interface was really helpful. It made a difference in my choice. I asked for details for my arrival and I received a very detailed planning which was really helpful and changed my understanding of some aspects.
" - , France, 6 August 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The price is affordable and the staff are friendly!
Alejandra did a good job by responding promptly to email and helping us to search for the diving package that suit us.
" - , Singapore, 1 January 2023 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"Jasni was diving with me exclusively all my 20 dives and was an unbelievable discoverer of all kinds of sea life - from very big to tiny pygmy seahorses. He made me seeing so many new creatures, countless different nudibranchs, frog fish in different colors and sizes, shrimps, flamboyant cuttlefish (a pair), moray eels, turtles, barracuda schools, sleeping sharks,...just unbelievable" - , Austria, 6 June 2022 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"The rented equipment was great and quite new, divemasters were fun to dive with and Sipadan itself was absolutely magnificent!" - , Poland, 28 July 2019 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"I will give them a very good ranking. They made a good impression from the start by requiring all divers to do a "check out" dive to guarantee that guests would be safe diving throughout the trip and wouldn't do damage to the corals. I found the dive masters to be knowledgeable and communicative and I appreciated their set-up of my dive equipment before every dive." - , USA, 13 July 2018 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , Germany, 15 June 2017 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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 which was very wet, and toilet was not flushing very well. All staff was very friendly, and we had a great time." - , Netherlands, 25 May 2016 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Canada, 14 August 2013 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"Dive equipment is good, Staff is excellent, facilities are average. It will be perfect if there are some plans and activity for nightlife." - , Iran, 7 July 2013 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , India, 2 July 2013 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , Cambodia, 3 October 2012 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Australia, 3 September 2012 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , Australia, 29 August 2012 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , UK, 2 March 2012 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , Russia, 13 January 2012 ...

Customer rating - Good
"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." - , Australia, 25 November 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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.
" - , New Zealand, 11 September 2011 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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.
" - , Australia, 5 September 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , UK, 24 August 2011 ...

Customer rating - Excellent
"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." - , Norway, 15 August 2011 ...

Customer rating - Good
"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.
" - , Netherlands, 20 July 2011 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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." - , UK, 6 May 2011 ...

Customer rating - Very good
"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.
" - , Hong Kong, 6 May 2011 ...

Customer rating - Good
"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$.
" - , Guam, 6 May 2011 ...

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