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Reviewed 15 April 2008

Stayed for 5 days diving. Rooms were large & cool, even though they dont have air condioning, but dont need it

Diving is great around the 3 main islands of Mabul, Kapali & Sipadan.

Diving was very organised, small groups, all with similar intrestes, ie macro, big stuff, dive masters very knowlegable.

All the staff say good morning/ afternoon & willing to help with any problem.

Only down side, despite working very hard over the catering & meals, they were never really anything but ordinary.

Were prepared to cook other meals if you were unable to eat the buffet type meals.

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled with friends
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1  Thank LukChang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2008

Sipadan Water Village in Mabul Island is a little paradise at the Celebes Sea, off Semporna. From the 40 minutes boat ride to the socialising with the staff at the Diving Centre, all seem to be perfect. All the staff would make a line at the jetty to welcome you soon as the boat reach the turqoise clear water as well as the moment before you step your legs into the boat and bid the marvellous island goodbye. Food is great-delicously done and the impressively variety. It's a buffet style and included in the whole package. The view is to die for. Where ever you are, no matter what you do, all you can see is the clear turqoise water. The water bungalows are really great. Each and everyone of them has its own verandah/sundeck where you get to relax n destress, listening to the waves and staring at the clear blue sea. It's heaven. The dive centre is our favourite place to hang out. They provide fresh oven baked buns, cookies as well as tea & coffee making facility and they're free flow! A satisfying combo as you reach the jetty from snokerling/diving at the stunning Pulau Sipadan. Imagine swimming with a sea turtle (huge one! and we saw many of them), and having sharks, barracudas, and jackfish swimming underneath and not to forget the lovely corals. What more can you ask for? It's highly recommended, a heaven for the divers and a good place to relax for the non divers, but do try the snokerling in Sipadan, no words to describe the beauty of the underwater world. I will definitely come back and I'm also eyeing for Kapalai and Mataking; am sure they're as gorgeous if not better...Tip : always ask for the water bungalows at the Sipadan Wings...

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled with friends
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1  Thank CookieMon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2007

From the agreed pick up from our hotel, to the pleasant boat trip out to the resort and everyday thereafter....this place is just magic.
The staff make you feel welcome and can't do enough to make you enjoy your stay.
As we arrived on the early transit, our room wasn't ready so they put us into a temporary room while we had our orientation dive. As soon as I entered the temporary room I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. So when we moved into one of our freestanding bungalow after our dive (we had the deluxe - without spa) I knew this was going to be our most enjoyable diving experience. It's actually even more spectacular than the photos show!!
The rooms are furnished quite simply but it has everything you want and more......coral reef and sealife swimming around in paradise-like aqua water all around your bungalow (on stilts). It feels quite rightly that you're a guest in their sea and have this magic view of their from every window and balcony. Super comfy big bed. It's also a really nice feeling when you come back from a dive and the 'room fairies' have turned down the room. Great!

The diving around Mabul Island is excellent and mainly Muck diving but still truly enjoyable and on it's own would be very highly regarded dive site. It's when you go over on the 20 minute flat boat ride to Sipadan that any other dive you've done just feel a little average. The diving around Sipadan is rightly rated as one of the (if not THE) best in the world. All the big stuff, turtles, shark...gsoh they are SO graceful! (incl Leopard Shark), spectacular coral...the list goes on and on. The early (5am) dawn dive in Sipadan is also great...it's a pleasant but slightly weird feeling walking over to the dive shop in Speedo's at 5am and being warm (and I live in Aus). A little like the night dive......jumping into the water on a rare windy and wet late afternoon we were a little cold (still in just Speedo's though). Jumping into the water was warmer than the outside temp....it's 27-28 degrees in the water....feels like body temperature.

The food was excellent....every day...every meal...without exception. The wait staff were very friendly...and most had a great, cheeky sense of humour and made you feel very comfortable. The resort was full when we there but we never had a problem getting a table.

The dive staff were knowledgable and informative and always respectful of photographers and non-photographers at all times.

The whole holiday isn't cheap...but diving never is and this is food included. As always the dive shop will charge you for any extras you use.....torch, batteries (night dive) etc. You do have to pay extra for alcohol and the Sipadan trips so be aware or keep any paperwork.

It was a sad feeling being waved away by the staff when we left...not only as it was a spectacular holiday but also knowing it's gonna be a tough diving experience to replicate or better........we'll just have to revisit sometime soon!!

  • Stayed: July 2007, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank CoopermanMelbourne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2007

I last visited SWV in Dec 2005. Then I complained about bed bugs, the food, and the not so good snorkelling.

We visited SWV again last month. This time there were only 2 of us, so we had to opportunity to test for bed bugs, but the food was much better. Also, when we went out on the reef just at the hotel doorstep, we saw lots of stuff like cuttlefish, leaf-fish and crocodile fish - some were fairly shallow depths, but I dont think you can spot a croc fish from the surface!

Generally they have maintained their standard of the hotel - the rooms are clean, well maintained, large and airy. I was so tired at the end of each day, that the bed felt like heaven!

The dive shop is still the same too. Well run, efficient and equipment fairly new.

SWV has some new competition - there is a new hotel next door which boasts airconditioning and a spa. We havent checked it out, so I cant comment.

Oh but watch out for the airport transfer. They dont hold up placards of the hotel. Rather they have a quiet guy wearing a (very small) logo T-shirt of the place. If you dont recognise the logo, or you miss the guy, you will end up thinking they didnt send someone!

My only negative comment has nothing to do with the hotel - its the seas. Its a sad fact of development and human encroachment - the sealife just isnt as abundant as before.

So my advise is, if you havent gone, better go soon!

  • Stayed: June 2007, travelled with friends
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Thank byyap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 June 2007

This little island in the middle of a crystal clear, sapphire blue sea, is a divers paradise. We were met at Tawau Airport by a member of staff from the SMART Resort. Drive to Semporno took approx 50 mins, followed by a boat trip of 45 mins to Mabul. We stayed on the island itself in one of the stand alone chalets. The chalets are not by any stretch of the imagination 5star, but then they don't claim to be. The rooms are large with plenty of storage space, unlimited hot water to a power shower, the beds are large and offer the type of comfort that finds you asleep before your head hits the pillow. All of the chalets have airconditioning and a ceiling fan. We were fortunate and had one of the ones with a sea view. They are arranged in such a fashion that some of them look on to the backs of others. It is possible to email the resort and request a particular chalet, if doing this I would recommend asking for chalets from 129 through to 132. They really are in the best position for view, location etc.
Once on the isalnd we were met by one of the dive guides who gave us a run down where things were etc.
Meals are served on a buffet basis and whilst they may not receive an Egon Ronay rating, they are varied, tasty, well cooked and most importantly for a hungary diver there is plenty of it.
The dive sites are fantastic, loads of things to see varying in size from the tiniest pygmy sea horse to whopping great turtles, and sharks. The centre varies the sites well and they are not crowded.
If you are looking for divers heaven then look no further its on Mabul.

  • Stayed: May 2007, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank leslest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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