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The Reef Dive Resort
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Reviewed September 26, 2011

We have been diving for 15 years around Asia and Sabah keeps attracting us to come for the great diversity of underwater life.
We have been to several resorts, like Kapalai, Mabul and even stayed twice on Sipadan Island itself (before the closure) and loved it.
This time we bumped into Mataking website and wanted something different this time, bad mistake!!

I really can’t agree with all the positive reviews but have to agree with the bad reviews.
Even those from a year ago still are 'up-to-date' as I experienced the same problems.

We arrived at the airport and also had to wait for 2 hours before being transferred because we had to wait for 2 other guests????? No drink, hot airport..... after a journey from Europe you like to be transferred and relax.

We booked the Villa with Jacuzzi for 9 days.
Upon arriving we were welcomed by the duty-manager who did a resort briefing.
To me, he was much to happy to mention the words, ‘charge’, ‘you have to pay’, ‘not free’ etc etc, this immediately gave me a bad feeling.

After this talk the dive-guide came to mention things about the diving.
We arrived around 14.00h and he asked to make a check-dive at 14.45h ............ yeah sure, we just had 16 hours of travelling done.
We could not do this dive an hour later, very strange and not customer friendly.
Besides that he kept his sunglasses on all time, disrespectful!

We were brought to the villa which was beautiful and very quiet.
But in the evening we wanted to use the jacuzzi and discovered it was filled with cold water????? Jacuzzi?, moah just some jetstreams and that was it.
What is an jacuzzi with cold water?................ just and extra item to charge more for the villa!!!.

The meals are in buffet-style, normally in Asia this means a lot to choose from and very tasteful, but the food here is very tasteless and the variety is poor.
There is a separate counter where there are made foods besides the buffet, but if the dining starts at 19.00h the chef start an half hour later????
The staff in the dining area is very friendly and helpful, there is an old man who is very accurate and friendly, his way is an example for many others on the island!!
Annoying although is that when you order a drink the bill to sign is brought immediately, if you are eating you have to sign the bill. Why not wait after the dining???

We were bitten very many times by mosquitoes, even in the room which is not sealed from the outside so the bugs can roam freely in the night.

About the diving: on the island and the surrounding sites the quality is poor, not really macro-paradise. Due to bomb fishing etc etc the diversity is very low.
We decided to do Sipadan, which is always guarantee for spectacular diving.
They charged a whooping 150 RM per person per trip extra for fuel I think..;-))

As we own a big 5* diving centre in Holland I judge that the diving base is run by money and not by a manager who likes to show things to his guests.
They mix very experienced divers with novices, as a result that we made dives which are not very spectacular.
Besides that I would discharge some of the diving resort staff as they look like they don’t like working there.

On one dive the general manager, Mr. Luke (we found out later) joined us for a simple drift dive.
We always are in the back of the group, doing our own thing, but he was baby-sitting!
Very annoying and he really wanted us to move on ……………. He has no clue what divers want ……….. we pay an overrated price for his resort and he treats his customers as children.

For us, and this I will also publish in diving magazines and I will give the travel agent also this as feedback, never Mataking again!

Mataking is an overrated and very expensive resort, with as goal to make money as much as possible with little effort.
Go to Mabul, go to SWV and have a wonderful time for half the price, with much better foods and diving.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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17  Thank Roelduikcursussen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 19, 2011

We had an amazing time here. Accomodation was of a high standard, staff were very helpful, food was great and the diving was incredible.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank rio16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 23, 2011

I don't think i've ever given 5 stars before, but this resort deserves it. The resort itself is the only one on the island (actually, two islands, but the 2nd one's just for scenery's sake.) We stayed in the lowest end deluxe rooms, which were very spacious, comfortable, and well designed. TV's a bit small but we didn't come for that. Each room comes with a double and a single, so It's great for a family of 3 or three friends. Only issue is the hot water goes from scalding to lukewarm in a split second.

For divers, this is paradise. It's like ISO9002 organisation. You get a locker assigned to you, and your equiptment is taken straight from your locker to the boat if you put your name down for a dive. I got between 200-250 (!) bar of air for each dive, which as alot of divers in Malaysia will know is NEVER the case. The divemasters here (Hardy, Basheer and Neo) are some of the friendliest i've ever met, and safety and conservation are definitely the main drivers. It's a bit far from sipadan (1-2hrs depending on conditions), but since most people only get one-day pass in Sipadan, it's only one long trip. The rest of the time, you can enjoy the awesome reefs in Mataking itself where we saw Stargazers, 6 types of eels, loads of lionfish, nudibranches and a few turtles.

PS: Try the night trek! We saw a turtle laying eggs!

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled with friends
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1  Thank ChakOnn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 9, 2011

If you are looking for an idyllic dive break then this is the place.

My girlfriend and I stayed there over the last 5 days of April hoping it would be the ultimate remedy for our stress levels thanks to our jobs back home....it was!!

The beach king chalet was clean, supremely comfortable and peaceful. I recommend these rooms if you want a bit of chill time in between dives but all rooms looked great. The food was great and service attentive. The drinks on offer were pricey (as they always are in those places) but my girlfriend did say the piña coladas were best on tour so there you go.

But all that aside it the actual island that matters and it is really truely amazing. The sand bar out to the minor island is well worth walking along to really get that deserted island feel.

The most important thing of course is the diving and it's why we chose mataking. We had heard how hard it is to get a permit for sipadan so we wanted to be somewhere where the doing was fantastic just in case we didn't make the lottery. It's fantastic diving without being anything like sipadan itself (which is on another level). Probably the best thing was the dive centre itself. Supremely professional and helpful with great equipment.

I'm sure PomPom is great as well but mataking does have the added advantage at being better at ensuring your dive to sipadan.

Seriously a very confident thumbs up from me!!

  • Stayed: April 2011
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4  Thank Cjdebeecee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 26, 2011

I travelled to this resort for a Dive holiday with a friend from the UK in March 2011 and we selected this resort based on comments on this site and other research done on the web.

On our arrival in Tawau we were greeted by Staff from the resort and quickly escorted to a mini bus which took our overland on a 1 hour trip to the Jetty at Sempora. ( This resort uses a small jetty opposite the Sea Breeze hotel ) after 20min or speed boat arrived and we were on our way to Mataking Island.

The ocean around the island was flat, making our arrival to the island quite spectacular. Check in was handled quick and efficiently, after a quick overview of the island we were taken to our Chalet. We opted for a Premium deluxe chalet which is located just behind the Dive Center. The room was large and bed’s comfortable and a very good AC. The room is also equipped with a mini bar and a TV with limited Channels. The Bathroom was quite big and toiletries etc supplied. Negative side is that the water pressure in Shower is very weak. The room is kept clean by staff throughout the day.

Dining, we were allocated a table in the dining room for the duration of our stay, all meals are a buffet type arrangement with a live cooking station ( One dish ) at each meal. Most of the dishes prepared are seafood, ( I am a non fish eater ) however there is always something else on offer so you will never go hungry. The Restaurant Manager even made us Beef Rendang one night on request which was really nice. Overall the food is not of a 5 star standard but what is prepared, is tasty and sufficient for your needs.

Resort – This is quite a large island and the resort itself is quite spread out. There are many levels of accommodation on offer with the Suites being the nicest followed by the King Bungalows on the beach being the best if you budget allows this. On the far end of the island you will find an outdoor Jacuzzi and a Spa. Resort staff is constantly cleaning and doing some maintenance work in a effort to keep the resort in a good condition.
There is a new bar and lounge area which is great, comfortable with efficient AC and there is a happy hour between 5 – 7pm where you will get a 50% discount. (I found Beer etc to be quite expensive on the island 25 ringgit per 750mml Tiger beer). But a nice place to go chill out for a few beers after dinner.

Diving – This was the only reason we can to the island and we managed to do 22 Dives in 6 days. After we check in to our room, we were met by our DM ( Basher – very knowledgeable and energetic DM ) who took us for a check out dive on the house reef and was our DM for most of the dives we did. On return to the Dive center he explained how we should confirm our dives for the next day and also how to book the optional (free ) dives at Sunrise, Sunset or Night on the house reef. The House reef on the island is quite good with a few coral heads covered with Class Fish and other marine life, not to be missed is a dive under the jetty where you will find tons of fish and a Local barracuda.
Neo ( Dive Manager ) and team run a very efficient dive operation and have many dive sites around the island. This was one of the reasons for selecting this resort.
Most of the local dives we did were really good with lots of healthy corals and fish around. Some of the sites we did compared to Bunakan Marine Reserve and Wakatobi in Indonesia. Another option the resort offers is 2 dive trips to Sipadan per week. ( best book this in advance with the resort as only 120 permits per day issued to all dive centers in the area and this includes Snorkelers) I was lucky to get a cancellation the day before we left the island so could do a second trip (3 dives per trip) to Sipadan. The highlights of these dives are the schools of Jacks’ Barracuda and Hump Head Wrasse, Turtle and Reef sharks. The coral reefs in the shallow areas are still in a good condition with plenty of life. One can easily see why this is rated as one of the best dive sites in the world.

Having been privileged to dive in many parts of the world in the past I can safely say you will not be disappointed with Mataking Resort, their local dive sites and add on trip to Sipadan. The staff members at the resort are extremely friendly and happy to go out their way to assist you in any way. Special thanks to the dive center for fixing the power inflators on both the BCD’s I brought along on the trip. And Restaurant Manager and staff for taking care of us.

Only Negative comment I would like to make is one not related to the resort, and that was the dynamite fishing that is still ongoing in the region. During the first trip to Sipadan we heard 3 loud explosions whilst on a dive. Out dive master told us that its happening on a nearby island in Philippines. There is evidence of that in and around the Malaysian Island but the practice has been outlawed there. Not sure how we can voice concerns and or lobbies to get this to stop. Alan was going to complain about this to Malaysian Tourist office in London on his return to UK.

Room Tip: If your budget allows go for a Villa or a King
  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled with friends
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6  Thank Just_Ian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mataking, General Manager at The Reef Dive Resort, responded to this reviewResponded May 4, 2011

Thank you very much for your posting on the TA site about our resort at Mataking.

I am thrilled that you had an enjoyable time at the resort and do apologise that I was unable to greet you personally during this period as I was on outstation on sales business in Europe throughout most of March.

The 2 negative comments in your review are both true and justified.

The water pressure in the resort is weak at times and this is in the main due to a water conservation effort on all islands. There is a real problem with fresh water shortage in Malaysia (something that we kind of take for granted in the UK). It is someting that we are now trying to rectify by using a combination of imported fresh water from nearby Semporna, rain water run-off and filtration system and well water.

The fish-bombing is a problem. A big problem.
It's quite true what Basher told you, most of it is occurring many miles away (as you know, sound travels much faster underwater) and in Filipino waters but some of it is happening in the area here now too. We are working actively now with the PGA police, maritime enforcement, WWF and have just qualified 5 Honary Wildlife Wardens at resort too. We are trying to strike a strong mix of enforcement with education, but it is a long road ahead.

Thank you once again for your valuable comments and we look forward to maybe seeing you at the resort again.

With warmest regards from the island,
Mr. Luke J Cox
General Manager and PADI IDC Staff Instructor #487420
at Mataking Besar and Mataking Kecil

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