Sara and I flew into Kuala Lumpur from Seoul and right back out again to Kota Kinabalu where we immediately went to our accommodations late in the night. We prefer to do the cities last. The following morning we were up bright and early to catch our flight to the other side of the island to a city named Tawau. From there we headed to Semporna a small town on the coast which would be our starting point for our hour and a half long boat ride to Mabul Island. My initial impressions after all of this travelling, and seeing so much of the country from the air and by car was that there is a lot of palm oil plantations. You see it on TV. Clear cutting the jungle and the destruction, but once you see how vast it is in person your jaw will drop. Humans, we need to learn how to keep things intact.
Our journey and stay on Mabul would be facilitated by Seahorse Sipadan Scuba. I can’t say enough good things about them. For one, they answered my emails and questions. Midah runs the office and was very helpful. Ben is one of the dive masters and was great. Did safety checks, knowledgeable about the area, and was able to spot a lot of macro creatures hiding in plain view. The rooms are sparse and it is definitely a backpackers/low budget travelers kind of place. This is reflected in the price. The food was awesome every single day, and since we had the entire place to ourselves we had more food then we could eat. Lastly, the dive schedule is great. I personally hate dive schedules that interfere with eating the days meals. First dive is after breakfast, second before lunch after some surface time, and thirds is in the middle of the afternoon. So there were some bugs (not bedbugs), no electricity during the day (who cares you should be diving), and no wifi (again who cares). I would not hesitate to stay there again and after seeing what some of the other dive shops looked like… Be careful with who you choose.
So we arrive. Beautiful boat ride in and as you get closer all you can see is the trash floating in the water. Mabul is an island of “Sea Gypsies” which we were told were some Malaysians and Filipino/Malaysians. It is really disappointing being on a beautiful island away from the tourist trail and seeing nothing but a shoreline covered in trash. There are apparently some efforts into educating the locals. Wait and see…
The island can be walked in its entirety in a half hour. There is a bar near the oil rig dive resort and the really fancy above water bungalows. That is the only place were you can get a beer. They are cold, the island is hot. Enjoy.
Next post: DIVING!