Sipadan

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SeaVentures Dive Rig -  Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia - October 2010
6 days of diving at Sipadan and Mabul Islands in Borneo
Scroll down page to see my review of SeaVentures Resort, Sipadan diving and video. To see slideshow, click on right arrow below.

 

 

Click here or the orangutan on the left to go see pictures and video of the rainforest part of the trip with lots of wonderful creatures including orangutans and proboscis monkeys.

We stayed at 3 places during the rainforest part of the trip, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sukau Forest Lodge and Sepilok Rainforest Lodge. We saw orangutans at 4 places, the 3 places mentioned above plus near the Gomantong Caves. A total of 4 mothers with babies, several adolescents and a nice big male which was in the middle of nowhere along the banks of the Kinabatangan River.

Read below for some details of the diving.

 

While diving we stayed at SeaVentures, a converted oil rig that was parked about a 1/2 kilometer off the island of Mabul.

It was a good base for diving. Since there were very few people when we were there, we were able to go to Sipadan any day that we wished. We could have gone every day, but we choose to go to Mabul and Kapalai on one of the days.

Although I had seen reports of little current, there was quite a current under the rig often. That combined with the 60 foot depth, my propensity to use a lot of air and the lack of larger tanks all made the dives under the rig a bit too short (for me). There was plenty of life under the rig, but if I were to ever go back to Sipadan, I would choose somewhere on Mabul where I could do 20-30 feet shore dives, even if it would cost me the opportunity to dive Sipadan every day.
 

Some of the highlights of diving at Sipadan and Mabul were the large schools of Barracuda

and Bumphead Parrotfish

Turtles everywhere.

and clownfish

 

 

 

Many different types of wonderful Anemone fish

 

and of course the Mandarin fish

 

and the wonderful diversity of creatures..

 

 

The diving at Mabul (the island near the Seaventures Rig) was great although the visibility was quite bad, especially compared to Sipadan. Although the diving under the rig was good, there were some drawbacks. First, it is 60 feet to the bottom and I use air up pretty fast at 60 feet. Second, there was often quite a bit of current and we had to wait several times for the tide to change before going in. Even then, the current on the top could be pretty strong and with the poor viz, you could get turned around and come up on the wrong side of the rig (I did once) They do not allow diving after 8PM under the rig.

We upgraded to the VIP suite, which is about 4 times the size of the regular rooms. It was worth it as I needed the room for my computer and photo gear. Wireless was hit or miss, mostly miss, in our room on the 4th floor. This is an oil rig and although converted it still feels like an oil rig, even if you are in the captains quarters.

The food on the rig was OK, not great. Just be prepared for noodles and hot dogs for breakfast. and a menu that is heavily weighted towards Chinese and Malaysian cuisine. If you need a hamburger option at every meal, forgetaboutit.
The dive setup (equipment, etc) was really efficient, although it took me a while to get the hang of where to get a clean towel.
Although the description on the web implies a complete computer/photo room setup, I had a hard time finding an available 2 prong outlet to use, even though it was far from full of divers, so make sure you bring enough of the UK style 3 prong adapters.

The diving was a lot of fun and I am really happy to have had a chance to go there. If I were to go back to Sipadan, even though I believe the value at Seaventures was great, personally I would probably stay on Mabul so that I could take advantage of the shallower shore diving. I am sure I would have been underwater a lot longer.

All in all I recommend Seaventures and Sipadan as a destination. The rig I would recommend if you want to maximize your trips to Sipadan.

 

Video of Rainforest part of trip

 

(all pictures and videos on this trip taken with Olympus E-PL1 camera with 9-19mm and 14-42mm lenses, Zen dome, INON s2000 strobes)

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