Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 021 Contents 78 Scoop Traveller January - June 2012
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In five days we did 17 dives, ate well, drunk
little, had a good giggle with the multinational
clientele and slept often. If you love diving,
luxury, and idyllic tropical locations, and need
a week of health and relaxation, it doesn’t get
any better. Every guest we spoke to said the
diving was as good as or better than anything
they had experienced, that they loved the
resort and would come back. It was also the
ideal location for couples where one person
wanted to relax, the other to dive.
Upside World-class diving, relatively
luxurious accommodation and facilities,
professional staff, massages, great weather
and location, and easy access.
Downside The limited access to Sipadan
dive permits, terrible coffee, a la carte
dining options costing extra, slow WiFi.
Overall score Highly recommended 8.5/10
For more information, contact Mabul Water
Bungalows www.mabulwaterbungalows.com, and
Malaysia Airlines www.malaysiaairlines.com.
Notes and tips (cont)
When to go While the dry and wet seasons used
to follow a strict pattern, lately the seasons are
much harder to predict. Regardless, the weather
conditions rarely prevent diving. Borneo is known
as The Land Below the Wind, and while the
Philippines suffers typhoon season from June to
August, Borneo is only impacted by increased
rains, plus occasional strong winds and choppy
seas. December to February is also rainy season,
while September to November and March to May
are traditionally dry. Low season (and the best time
to get increased dives on Sipadan) is October to
March, but avoid holidays such as New Year and
Chinese New Year. Also avoid July and August
– the European holiday season – which makes it
busy (but at the same time more likely to provide
you with playmates for the kids). Whale shark
and manta ray season is around April, but their
appearance is not guaranteed.
Food The buffet meals are good for a dive resort,
but not great for a luxury retreat. We only found out
on the last day that for extra we could order a la carte,
including fresh whole steamed fish and crayfish.
Alcohol Depending upon your preference, taking a
couple of bottles of wine, single malt whisky or your
favourite gin is recommended.
Tipping The staff were personable and professional
at all times. There is a tipping box, which ensures
money reaches the less visible staff. I also recommend
getting a bunch of 50 ringgit notes ($15), budget,
say, $150 and dole out tips when deserved. This is a
small price to pay, relative to the cost of your holiday,
it means a lot to these people and their families, feels
good, and makes Australians look good.
Dive courses/snorkellers/kids You can do one-day
introduction courses, and three-to-four-day PADI
open-water courses right through to your divemaster
qualification. Kids can do their open-water course
from the age of 10. Some of the best coral and
abundant fish life can be found in less than 5m of
water, making this ideal for beginners, kids and
snorkellers. Otherwise, there are not a lot of other
activities for children.
Accommodation There are numerous cheaper
alternatives in the area but none reported to be
as luxurious and professional as Mabul Water
Bungalows. If your budget affords it, the family
suites and villas (the Bougainvilla being the best)
are all stunning.
Price Keep in mind that the twin-share diving
package includes almost everything except diving
permits for Sipadan, equipment hire, alcohol and
massage. There is little else to spend money on.
Flights are also relatively cheap, and business class is
recommended. The per-person diving package for
seven days and six nights costs 9152 ringgit ($3050).
For a non-dive package, it’s 6238 ringgit ($2080).
Conversion rates (as in October 2011) are
approximately 3 ringgits to $1.
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