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Mabul Water Bungalows
AnninNYC - 9/12/2011 8:48 AM
Category: Travel
Replies: 4

Has anyone been to Malbul Water Bungalows? Do you have time to email or chat about it, if so?

badintexas - 9/14/2011 1:49 PM
I found a few reviews that I thought I’d share although I’ve never been.. looks amazing!!! I found these reviews on TripAdvisor and there are quite a few more:

Our four nights at Mabul Water Bungalows were absolutely wonderful. The resort is built over the water. Our chalet, #214, had wide open views across the sea to Sipadan. Rooms are spacious with private balconies, mini-bars, and tea/coffee. The resort is compact enough that the dining and diving areas are central for all chalets. Public spaces are cool and open to the sea breezes. While the furnishings and art are a bit eclectic, the resort overall is beautiful without being stuffy or pretentious.
The resort is geared towards divers and there is not much for non-divers to do here, although the spa looked quite nice and the prices there were reasonable. Meals are served buffet-style, which is the norm throughout Borneo, and were of a higher quality than most other places we stayed. However, the food here was even saltier (who knew that was possible?) than at our other accommodations. Soups were inedible due to salt. Grilled mackerel was a highlight, and the mango for desert was amazing.
Staff were very warm and welcoming. Eva, the manager, is a very funny person with lots of great stories about island life. The dining room manager and her staff are extremely gracious and helpful. We had an early departure for our long trip back to LAX, and they packed us both breakfast and lunch for the roadfood that kept us going for over a day!
We had two full days of diving on Sipadan, and permits to dive there seem to be plentiful outside of peak season. The dive masters from Mabul Water Bungalows, including Neneng and Yusri, were great. They have amazing skill at spotting the small stuff, and Neneng calmly coached me through my first night dive, which was amazing. Beware that Mabul Water Bungalows is under the same ownership as the beach-based Sipadan Mabul Water Resort (SMART) and when the resorts aren’t full, the resorts pool resources. This is clearly ecological, but means that the Bungalows’ diving guests have to go to the land resort’s jetty, may have dive masters from the land resort (who didn’t seem as good as those from the Bungalows), and will have the picnic from the land resort (which definitely is not as good). So you basically pay for the Bungalow level of service, but get the lower level of service of the less expensive land resort. I think management should do it the other way around and give the land resort guests an upgrade to Bungalow cuisine and divemasters on days when guests from the two resorts go diving together.
Our dives at Sipadan were wonderful with hundreds of turtles, the famous barracuda tornado, napolean wrasse, and bumphead parrotfish. We also really enjoyed diving at Mabul and Kapalai, where we saw cuttlefish, crocodilefish, turtles, octopus, mandarin fish, seahorses, and some nudibranches. Guests may go on unlimited dives on the resort’s house reef, which has great big schools of jacks and giant frogfishso you don’t have to go far for great diving!
I wish we had spent 5 or 6 nights here instead of just 4. This is one of those places where guests just feel comfortable. Couple the wonderful accommodations with the gorgeous diving and this is a perfect spot! I wish it were closer to us so we could go back soon.
badintexas - 9/14/2011 1:49 PM

Our stay in the Mabul Water Bungalows was - together with our stay in Danum Valley - the highlight of our vacation in Malaysia. The villa (above the water) was spacious and luxurious. The food in the Water Bungalows restaurant was great. The staff extremely friendly. The diving was well organized. We were very happy we choose this accommodation (initially we wanted to book the water village but they were overbooked)
The transfer from Tawau Airport (we arrived on a short flight form Sandakan) was smooth. It took about one hour by minibus to Semporna and then 40 min. by boat to Mabul. Hardly any waiting. Upon arrival there was a briefing (together with people who stayed on the island itself), concerning the diving and snorkeling. On the island itself, at the arriving point (on the other side from the water bungalows) you’ll find the beach with some canoes, the dive shop, the central bar/restaurant and a small swimming pool. From the water bungalows it’s a 10 min. walk, or a few minutes by bike (each villa has one, they could use some oil however) or the driver (Malik) will bring you by golf cart !
Our divemaster (King) was very helpful and friendly. We found the diving (Mabul / Kapalai) great, but we are no experienced divers. Because of our small children ([ 10 years old) we didn’t make all the possible dives. During some of our dives the boatmaster went snorkeling with our children. Great service. The dive master would come to the restaurant at the evening to make arrangements for the diving the next day. Diving equipment can be stored in a room next to the restaurant. At night it’s really quiet. Even the bar is quiet, but it’s of course possible to visit the bar on the island itself. In the afternoon they serve a small snack (free) and there is WIFI (slow..).
It is so much fun to see the fish (and sea turtles) swim under your bungalow. The combination of diving and snorkeling, a little beach and the accommodation was perfect. We stayed three nights but should have booked longer. When we left early in the morning to catch our flight (Air Asia from Tawou tot KL) Divemaster King, Malik and a lady from the Philippines who works in the Water Bungalows restaurant waved us goodbye. The real Fantasy island feeling !
It’s a pity it’s a long journey for us to get here, but we intent to come back some day.

We extended an eco tour 4 extra days just to dive Sipadan and had our tour operator book us at the Mabul Water Bungalows. The location and accommodations were amazing. The dive instructors, Nanig, Kadil and Jasni were excellent and attentive. We did 7 dives in three days including a full day at Sipadan. As a rookie diver, I was blown away by the marine life of every type including sharks, sea turtles and schools of barracudas swirling around us! Food was just so-so but plentiful, and we were also just tired of Malaysian buffets for the previous 14 days in Borneo already.
As a dive resort, they definitely know their stuff. Our bungalow deck overlooked starfish and rays in the water and was very relaxing while we were not diving. One thing for sure, there is no other activities other than diving so I can see it appealing to hard core divers only. If you have the nerve, book a cave dive into turtle cave, and see the turtle tomb! Highly recommend going, easy to get to from Tawau airport and back.
AnninNYC - 9/16/2011 10:20 AM
Thank you! I hope to make a trip to Mabal in 2012. If I do, I will post my impressions. Again, thanks for researching.
badintexas - 9/16/2011 10:24 AM
YES! Please do post a little blog when you get back. That would be awesome for future travelers to read. Thanks. Have a great weekend!