After one night in Semporna Scuba Junkie arranged our boat trip to Mabul. The island of Mabul is a 45-60 min speed boat ride away from Semporna and it is the base camp of the dive shops that specialize in Sipadan. Mabul is known for its muck diving and there are indeed plenty of colourful nudibranches and elegant pipefishes in the water.
Our Stay at Scuba Junkie Resort
We stayed with Scuba Junkie for 4 nights at Mabul in a lovely wooden chalet. Like most of the resorts in Sabah, it is an all inclusive setup and everything is planned around the daily dive sessions. The accommodations are very clean and have a good standard. Our our house was close to the dining area so it was a bit loud in the evening, but you can also book the more expansive chalets closer to the beach. All houses are in a nice tropical garden.
In front of the dive resort, there is a small beach with ocean access, however, it is a little bit dirty because of all the plastics in the ocean and also partly because the locals don’t really care about their waste. If you should be sensitive to sandflies, be careful we saw some on the beach.
Vegan Food Options
During booking we already told the Scuba Junkie Resort that we are vegan. So during breakfast, lunch and dinner they always prepared dishes for vegans/vegetarians. The vegan food was delicious and we were positively surprised about that. If you stay for longer than 4 days your might get a bit bored about the food since it is repeating.
In general, Scuba Junkie does not offer any fish dishes to fight unsustainable fishing methods in the region.
Zero Waste Tip
Bring your own water bottle, you can refill it in the dining area for free. Also tea was available for free.
Scuba Junkie Resort Operates Very Professional
The whole Scuba Junkie operation was very professional and felt smooth. Very dive was organized very well we always got a good introduction about safety regulations and the dive sites. The dive staff kept to themselves and evening socializing was mainly between travelers at the resort bar.
The island of Mabul is worth exploring in the afternoon, after the dives to explore the local villages. You can take a walk and surround the whole island. On the other site there is even a small local massage shop. The sunsets on Mabul are very magical so don’t miss them.
Diving Around Mabul
The health of the Mabul reefs varies from decent to so so and the visibility is usually 5-10m. Nearby Kapalai island belongs to an exclusive resort but its pristine reefs are accessible for all divers and the Mabul dive shops will also bring you here for diving to fill out the non-Sipadan dive days. Visibility at Kapalai is typically better than at Mabul and the corals healthier. However, the diving in Mabul or Kapalai does not warrant a visit in itself. Equal or better diving can be had at a better price at many other places unless you are a big fan of sea turtles as you will typically encounter several of them in every dive.
Is Mabul Safe?
There was a big security detail on Mabul and also on Sipadan. Soldiers walking around with machine guns and destroyers nearby. All because there were a string of kidnappings in the area. However, with this beefed up security and most of the kidnappers dead, the risk of kidnapping is significantly reduced. (Last Updated: February 2018)