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Hiya, I'm thinking about travelling round Malaysia at the end of the year and while i'm there it would be rude not to visit Sipadan and see what all of the fuss is about.

The only thing is that I don't know where to start, an internet search brings up that may results :confused: . Are there any recomendations out there? I'll only probably have time for about 3 days maybe 4 at a push. Would a liveaboard or shore based be better?

Ta
 

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Sipadan

Helen, go for shore based. The dive sites are not distant from one another and can easily be reached from one of the resorts in a matter of minutes.

There are not a huge number of choices of resorts. Essentially, you can either stay on Borneo at a seedy town with grungy guesthouses (Semporna) or stay at one of the resorts on Mabul/Kapalai. Guess you can tell which option I have always prefered!

Kapalai has only one eponymous resort, but Mabul hosts an entire handful. The longest-established Sipadan op, Borneo Divers, has built a new resort on Mabul, having been evicted from Sipadan when the Malaysian government restricted access to the island. Sipadan Water Village has the very best house reef, Paradise, where mandarinfish can be viewed as they do their mating dance at sunset. SMART has two separate resorts on Mabul, the traditional chalet-style Mabul Divers Resort and the more upscale Mabul Water Bungalows. Finally, there is the converted oil platform called Seaventures which boasts great muck diving right underneath it.

Hope this helps. Feel free to PM me for more info.
 

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i am off to seaventures platform in a couple of weeks time. i will post a report when i get back. i am there for a week and the off down to komodo for a weeks liveaboard. watch this space
 

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mabul for me

hi,

i did some shore based diving there and the outfits were mostly poor i thought.... dodgy gear and DM's that could win swimming races!

all diving i've done there has been good and when i go back will stay with borneo divers. Semporna isn't a thing of beauty, though the foating hotel there was perfectly adquate for us.

I've spoken to tons of folk about the place and most agree Mabul is worth the extra wonga.

Have a really good time :teeth:
 

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I was there last year and used SMART Divers on Mabul. I don't have any experience of the other options, but from what I heard from others who have been there, I think I chose the best option.

Mabul is a 15 minute boat ride from Sipadan itself, but this just adds to the experience as far as I'm concerned. It gives you a real sense of perspective powering to the small island in the middle of nowhere. All of the shore-based resorts tend to do 2 dives per day on Sipadan (the hour or so between dives is spent on the beach, which is supervised by the army to make sure that no-one tries to stay on the island overnight) and a third dive on Mabul and/or Kapalai.

The accomodation is great, the facilities are very good and the people are really friendly. The Divemasters were not all that special (in my opinion), but I did a cavern course with a local instructor called David and he was brilliant. Really enthusistic, really knowledgeable and great fun to boot.

Whoever you go with, I'm sure you will love the diving. It really is all that it is cracked up to be.

Enjoy!
 

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if you can afford it stay on Kapalai, the diving at Kapalai itself is awesome in a completely different aspect to Sipadan, and you can fit several dives in around the trips to Sipadan.
 

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I really enjoyed Kapalai last year - nice water stilt bungalows, good food, loads of life on the house reef and only 15/20 mins on boat to do a couple of dives on Sipadan each day (which is great!) :)

Not tried Mabul, hear it is also nice and very nearly as close to Sipadan.

Semporna is a bit grim, spent a night their either side of my Kapalai visit, and was thankful I wasn't doing the hours plus each way trips on dive boats from there. That said it would for sure be cheaper than either Kapalai or Mabul if you're on a budget, and Sipadan is well worth whatever it takes to dive there.

Would also suggest a visit to Uncle Tan's Wildlife Safari to have a stay in the rainforest, and Sepilok Oranutan reserve.

Have fun.

Dave.
 

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Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam
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When I was there a few years ago (just a few weeks after the 40 tourists got abducted off Sipadan to the Phillipines) you could still stay on Sipadan itself. I thought the best diving was along the vertical sides of the island just off the beach rather than the offshore reefs which the boats went out to each day. I thought the reefs were a bit dull but the walls were fantastic. I dived with Borneo Divers who were brilliant.

It was dirt cheap to book diving whilst in KK, probably less than half of what booking in advance from abroad would have been. If you have the time to be flexible then it's the best way to do it.

Out of the other things to do in Sabah, don't btoher with the turtle island tour as you'll see more turtles around Sipadan than you'll ever want. Sepilok is worth a visit too. Diving around KK in the Abdul Rahman Park islands is rubbish but they are a good place to stay for a couple of days. Mt Kinabalu is a must and Poring Hot Springs afterwards is a great way to recover.

As others have said, Semporna isn't worth hanging around in.

Cheers,

Stuart
 

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My info is probably out of date as like NotDeadYet, I was fortunate enough to stay on Sipadan itself with Borneo Divers. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Would agree that KK is cheapest for booking diving ($100/night with kit hire). Some smart arse backpackers thought they would get a better deal in Semporna, they didn't.

Also, if you're travelling around a bit. I really enjoyed the diving in the Perhenthians and managed to persuade a dive centre to take me to Redang which was fantastic. It would be a good warm up for Sipadan.

Malaysia is a fantastic country, have a great time.
 
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