Dive and gone to heaven

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Where I stayed
Sipan Mabul Resort

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, March 17, 2008

20080317 Divers paradise
After a 10 hour (or 4 movie) flight east we arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm, checked into our hotel close to the airport for a good nights rest. After a late check out and some well used internet time we back tracked by taking a 5 hour domestic flight back west to Borneo or more specifically Sabha which is a province of Malayasia. We only arrived in Tawau which is the closest airport to the islands of Mabul and Sipadan at around 10pm so it was straight to our over night hotel. By now we had had enough of flying and lugging bags around and were looking forward to a little island rest and relaxation.
Our pick-up arrive at 6:30 the next morning before we could even have any breakfast, not that we missed much because the breakfast buffet was late in arriving. To get to Mabul Island where we'll be staying for the next 7 days involves a 45 minute speed boat ride. Mabul island is also the closest island to the world famous Sipadan that you can live on. The speedboat ride was amazing as we passed by beautiful little island and water homes along the shore we were also extremely fortunate as the sea on the day was as flat as glass.
Pulau Sipadan is world famous for its pristine dive sites around the tiny island. The island basically rises up like a chimney form the ocean floor with drop-offs of hundreds of meters on either side. Strong currents which wash past the island bring the big fish and the coral thrives in this environment. Since 2005 the island was declared a national park and the amount of divers visiting the island are now strongly controlled. The island is currently under the control of the Malaysian military and nature conservation department.
The island of Mabul is not much bigger than Sipadan but unlike Sipadan is inhabited by local fishermen and their families as well as a few diving resorts. The island only takes a few minutes to walk around and the contrast between the poor (financially) local families and the up market lodges is clearly visible.
The Sipadan Mabul Resort or SMART as it is otherwise know was way beyond our expectations. This might have been as a result of our budget backpacker lifestyle we had become accustomed to in Australia and New Zealand. We were checked into our own little chalet 10m from the beach set among lush palm trees, that included our own on-suite outdoor bathroom and spacious bedroom with sundeck, truly luxurious.
The schedule for the next 6 days besides soaking up the sun and relaxing is to dive twice a day around Sipadan's 13 dive sites and then alternate the days third dive between Mabul and Kapalai a sand island, this of course excludes the optional night dives.
No time was wasted in getting us in the water and our first dive which a usually a checkout dive was just off the Mabul resort at a dive sight called Lobster Wall. Since many of the other guests that would be joining our party had not yet arrived Inge-Marie and I had the dive guide (Ronnie) to ourselves. It was a beautiful sunny day with calm seas and the visibility was 20m plus. The minute our heads were underwater we were blown away by the amount of colourful coral that were teeming with all kinds of fish. We drifted along the gently sloping wall and amongst others had all sorts of nudibranch's, leaf fish, cuttle fish, shrimp and turtles pointed out to us. The second dive which Inge-Marie traded for a little sleep was on the opposite side of the island off the jetty and was good site to see small sea critters. Besides a big school of squid and some turtles we saw loads of nudibranches, frog fish and many other never seen before fish.
If Sipadan was better than this then we were in for a real treat and to truly share this experience I'm going to have to find an underwater camera to rent!!
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