I wanted to do my PADI Open Water certification. It is the first certification available for divers.
So I looked around the Borneo and found Mabul Island. It is close to Sipadan Island, which is called one of the most beautiful diving sites in the world. To be able to dive there, you need a special permit, and they only allow 120 permits a day! So to be able to dive in that particular place, you need to make booking way ahead of time. I was booking in August for October, and most of the permits were gone.
But even if you do not get to dive in Sipadan, there are still many diving sites around Mabul Island, and they are all beautiful.
I only had two days, so I did my theory online at home and then dived both days. Unfortunately, I needed more time on the island to do free dives outside the course, but I met a lot of people that dived in different places, and they were awestruck 🙂 I couldn’t take any pictures as the instructor told me I need to focus on the course entirely. So I will take some next time!!
I was told that the new Blue Planet movie made by Discovery was filmed exactly on Mabul Island, so I guess they know what looks cool 😀
I took some pictures around the island though! It takes only around 40 minutes to walk around. The part where the different hotels were was quite fancy. But the second I left their premises, I ventured into a part of the island that was quite poor. It was quite safe, and no one bothered me, but I couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. It was also surprising how much of a contrast there is between two worlds.
I used a company called Scuba Junkies. They picked me up at the airport, let me sleep a couple of hours on the mainland, then took me with the boat to the Mabul and back. The price also included two nights at the island, the instructor for the course and the food. Was lucky I was the only one learning, so it went pretty fast 🙂
They were super accommodating, helped me with the whole schedule and the requests I made:)
Some people came to the island initially for a day or two, and then they extended the stay with extra dives, so everything was quite flexible.
It is important to remember that you can’t use the plane up to 18h after the dive, so plan accordingly.
The only problem I had was that in the whole of Malaysia, I needed to pay an additional fee for being a single traveler in a room.
Below is what the company quoted for the time there:
2.30pm boat transfer: 52RM
2-day E-learner Open Water Course: 660RM
2N Deluxe AC room: 406RM +6% SST= 430.36RM
2N Single Supplement Fee: 208RM +6% SST= 220.48RM
Tourism tax: 20RM
It would have been even cheaper if I stayed at the dormitory, but I wanted to have my room and chill out.
Overall, the stay was terrific. The island looked amazing; people were friendly and helpful. I had a blast 🙂 Too bad it is only two days though. I definitely should have stayed longer!