Mabul Island Diving Packages


Diving Packages for Mabul Island
For scuba divers, Mabul Island dive packages generally range from budget to high end for those planning a dive trip to Pulau Mabul and Sipadan Island in Sabah Borneo.

What most travelers don't know is that there is a range available to suite all types of diver packages here. If you don't dive, there are also basic snorkeling packages available at all resorts or guesthouses here.

Dive Packages at Mabul Island

Scuba Diving Loge in Mabul Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge in Mabul

My first visit to Mabul Island was in October 2011, it was my first diving trip to this part of Sabah. To be very honest, I did not know what to expect apart from reading and seeing pictures of this beautiful place.

I had been checking various dive packages for Mabul Island, and there were too many to choose from. It became a job at first, until I looked up an old friend from Sabah called Pat.

Pat was formerly running Equator Tours and had arranged a 5D/4N Mabul-Sipadan Package for me after providing me with so many options.

Finally, the one he recommended  offered one of the better guest houses on the island called Seahorse Sipadan Scuba, which is located at Kampung Mabul Village.

Just to let you know, Mabul is divided into two areas, whee on one side of the island, you will find all the resorts and hotels which are three stars to five stars. On the other side is Kampung Mabul, where the local islanders stay at.

It is here where you will find about 10 dive lodges, guest houses or homestays that are highly popular for those on a budget, or those seeking a unique island diving experience.

Trust me, for over the years, I have stayed at a number of them, and I tend to see more foreigners, namely Caucasians opting for these places. They are more laid back, relaxed and easy going compared to the resorts.

So, when you choose your Mabul dive package, you need to identify which dive lifestyle you want to experience - The typical resort style dive operator or the easy going dive lodge style. 

Mabul Seahorse Guest House
Seahorse Guest House at Mabul Sipadan

Seahorse Dive Center Mabul
The main common area at Seahorse Guest House
Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge

This is one of the more laid back dive lodges on Mabul Island which has had a good reputation during my time diving here. Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge has been around since 2011.

They started small as a homestay dive center, catering to local divers and also walk in divers, but over the years, they have grown a lot.

From a simple and basic wooden structure on stilts, they renovated the entire place back in 2014 to a proper dive lodge, with a local feel.

Built on stilts connected by a wooden jetty, Seahorse Sipadan Scuba has some of the best sunset views on the island. The rooms are basic with two single beds and a fan  and attached bathroom.

There is also a housekeeping department that cleans your room daily too. Full board meals are provided three times a day while there is free flow of coffee and tea throughout the day. 

What I found most appealing was the fact that they used local dive masters and instructors here. These local boys who speak English have good experience at all the dive sites around Mabul and know what the divers want.

Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge also has their own dive boats, air compressor and equipment making your diving experience simple and easy.

This means, they will pick you up from Semporna when you arrive and send you back to the mainland after your dive stay. 

Dive Equipment Seahorse Sipadan Scuba
Dive center equipment at Seahorse Mabul

The dive facilities are complete here while they have sizes that include small to Caucasian size and even XXL sizes. Equipment are well taken care and organized, and this was personally seen by me.

For those who are into macro photography, you need to bring your own cameras and casing, but fear not as one of the dive masters at Seahorse Sipadan Loge has his own camera and casing therefore he will assist you to take some pictures if you do not have an underwater camera.

Scuba Diving Lodge Mabul Island
One of the unique dive lodges at Mabul Island
Facilities at Mabul Island

Another cool thing about this place is that Mabul Island is connected to all major phone and mobile services therefore you are able to use your 4G or 5G services while you are here.

Travelers can also easily update their social media status and travelogues while staying here. The only set back is that some of the guesthouses in Mabul island operate electricity from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am daily.

So it would be wise to bring additional batteries and power banks for all your gadgets. A multi adapter would be required to charge all those gadgets while the power is on.

Also, please bring enough of cash, as there is no ATM machines on Mabul Island. There are a number of local bars at some of the resorts on the island. This is usually frequented by divers in the evening when they explore the island.

Dive Homestay at Mabul Island
What some of the dive lodges look like at Mabul Island
For sundries, there are some local island sundry shops that sell very basic items, snacks and drinks. They only accept cash at these places on the island. Please use only Malaysian Ringgit, because there is no money changer on the island.

If you really need to change foreign currency, some of the four or five star resorts on Mabul Island can do this for you at the main reception counter. However, expect very low rates.

Usually, I will get my supplies from Semporna town when I get in, just before heading to the jetty to catch the boat to the island.

There are supermarkets, grocer shops, fast food joints and pharmacies in Semporna main town area.

A couple of banks with ATM Machines are also available here, and most important, local SIM card telco shops, so please get what you need in Semporna before heading to the island.

Mabul Joe Stars
Joe Stars, my favorite dive master and underwater photography teacher
Mabul Island Underwater Photography

While I am a land based travel photographer, I am not an underwater photographer by nature. But I had my fair share in learning this skill while visiting Mabul Island many times.

My huge appreciation goes out to Joe Stars, my personal dive master who taught me what I needed to know to shoot underwater.

And till this very day, I still go diving around the world and doing some underwater photography with the skills he shared with me.

Below are some of the underwater pictures I took while scuba diving in Mabul. I used one of Joe Stars camera for these and you can see some of the underwater photos taken by me. Except the portrait of me and the Hairy Seahorse. 

Mabul Hairy Seahorse Photo
A Hairy Seahorse with me in the back
Mabul Island Mandarin Fish Photo
Pair of Mandarin Fishes spotted while diving at Mabul Island
Photo of Cuttlefish at Mabul Island
Cuttlefish photographed by me
Mabul Ghost Pike Fish Photo
Ghost Pike Fish
Mabul Island Green Frogfish
A green Frogfish photographed at Mabul Island
Dive Sites Mabul Island
Dive Sites of Mabul Island

Taman Marin Tun Sakaran
Entrance to Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Sabah
How To Get To Mabul Island? 

First you need to fly into Tawau from Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu city. This can be done with AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines domestic flights. There are no international flights into Tawau.

To get to Mabul Island from Tawau, you need to first travel to Semporna via mini van or taxi which is about 90 minutes. This will cost you RM100 one way per vehicle, and can be shared among four persons.

From the town of Semporna, you will head to the main jetty where your resort or guest house staff will meet you and then take a speed boat to Mabul Island. The journey is usually around 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the tide.

Usually, the boat fees are included in your Mabul diving package, so please double check this as some operators may charge additional for boat transfers which can be RM80 to RM100 per person one way.

Photo of Turtle at Mabul Island
 A turtle spotted and photographed during one of my any dives here.
Why I Keep Diving At Mabul Island

Personally I had an amazing experience have been diving here with over 500 dives to date just around here. My dives have taken me to most dive sites at Mabul Island and also Sipadan Island.

There are also Sipadan Island diving packages available for anyone who plans to do some scuba diving at one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.

Finally, if you are interested, you can contact me for any dive packages here as I know a number of dive operators in Sabah who are selling Mabul Island diving packages that suit various budgets. 
Mabul Island Diving Packages Mabul Island Diving Packages Reviewed by David Jr on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Rating: 5

6 comments:

Thristhan said...

Wow, the photos are heavenly. Reminds me of Bora Bora Island and it being here in Malaysia, a must visit place. Btw David, congrats on the Sabah Tourism Award :)

David Jr said...

Kevin, it usually cost about RM800-1200 (US$250-400) for the full package to be a certified open water diver here. Check if it is cheaper there or else, do it here when you visit. You will need about 3-4 days to complete your course at any of the islands here.

Adi Rent Car Bandung said...

Nice

Adi Rent Car Bandung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rain said...

nice photos

David Jr said...

Thank you all! :)

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