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Reviewed March 31, 2012

I and my wife had a 4-day snorkeling vacation here in Mar 2012 and found the experience very satisfying. Weather was perfect. The sand bank connecting the two islands is spectacular. The house reef just in front of our Chalet actually extends all the way off the sand bank to the deserted small island almost a kilometer away. The reef edge could be 30 meter from shore or 100 meter, depending on location and tide. We entered the sea from off our chalet, snorkelled along the reef edge all the way to the far island and swam back for a total of about 2 hours. Water is very clear when the tide is steady. But in between low and high tide the water is not so clear and there are currents. Corals are nice but not as abundant as in some Maldives islands that we have been. Fishes are plenty and turtles are everywhere. We spotted about 20 turtles during the 2 hours. Two turtles got interested in me and swam towards me until I could almost touch them! The more interesting fishes include a 4 foot barracuda, Titan triggers, Bat fishes, Sand Perchers, Hump Heads, Sweet Lips, Lion fishes, Porcupines, squids, eels, various parrot fish, banner fish, triggers, nemos and many whose names I know not.. We joined the Resort-organized snorkeling trip once to nearby sites. Corals are a lot more at these sites. They had three staffs snorkeling with us. One leading our group of 9, one at the rear and one dragging a non-swimmer lady in life jacket all the way. Poor soul. I heard the lady complaining about the guy was too slow as he laboured hard to drag her.

The King's Chalet is ok - completely detached, good a/c, king-size bed, large shower room with a big bath tub we never used, coffee pot, balcony. In fact it is too large for us. We chose King's Chalet because of its location - beach front and near sand bank. There was absolutely no mosquito, both inside room and outdoor. The restaurant has no a/c and lunch could be a little bit too warm. The buffet for all three meals have Western and Eastern dishes, but the quality is pretty average. The resort has quite few rooms and with few guests there are not many facilities. On the other hand, you can enjoy a peaceful stay and you can find plenty of beach beds under trees for relaxation and appreciation of how lucky you are to be in this paradise.

Our inbound journey from HK included a stop over at a Tawau hotel and we had to depart very early the next morning at 7:15 am for a 2-hr drive to the jetty at Semporna. Later we found out that if we stop over at Semporna, we can save 1 hr in land travel and have a much easier schedule.

Room Tip: There are 7 King's Chalets but only 5 are at beach front with splendid seaview and privacy. They are at the best part of the island.The other two have less privacy and blocked view. Suggest must go for front row chalets. The Villas are more expensive and super huge, but unless you are bringing a big family, not worth paying more to get a less-preferred location.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank jimmylam11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 12, 2012

While the place might seem expensive, being able to snorkel and dive at your leisure on grounds like these is a rare thing. The reefs surround the island, and even if you're not a diver you can get good access by snorkeling (I went on a non-diver package). They offer a boat tour (I don't recall the price) of the best spots for snorkeling, and you can easily go back to those spots on your own afterwards. They have day trips to Sipadan which is something I can't encourage enough... awesome. I booked RDR last minute and stayed in a deluxe, which was spacious and comfortable. I think it was low season because I also got that permit for Sipadan, and evidently those can go quickly. On dry land, I would call this an ordinary type of resort; the people are very pleasant, such that I don't really want to be critical, but you're not going to find some kind of 5-star odyssey here; the activities are few and the food is mostly Chinese comfort food, which might be from customer feedback (appeared to be heavily Chinese clientele). The fish dishes do stand out, presumably being fresh and local. But again, you're going for what's underwater, and I think it would be very tough to be disappointed in that. Also, they have marine cameras for rent (not that many though) and a marine biologist onhand, plus there's a video service, although it seems like a big part of the focus of the video is to amuse, where I really just wanted the best footage possible of the marine life, so if you're like me, you might want to direct the content a bit, before the editing is done.

Stayed: February 2012, travelled solo
3  Thank ACD_76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 11, 2012

I want to make a comment on Dilla who handled my query on. She needs to be re-trained, her phone matters are atrocious, not polite nor helpful and bad listening skills as i had to repeat several things twice. Even worst the prices she quoted were extremely high (how about more than twice what the second reservation officer quoted). Is she trying to put off local visitors? Why is it when we called and spoke to a different reservation officer the rates differ so greatly?

Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
6  Thank Nodi3567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 22, 2011

I've signed up to tripadvisor to submit a review in response to a negative review on 27th Sept '11. I was on Mataking when the reviewer stayed here and although I agree with some of the negative comments, I have to counter some.

The Diving
Although my partner and I have only completed 60 and 30 dives respectively, I hope we would not be regarded as "novices" and in fact found the diving excellent and on the whole, the dive staff where ok. Yes there were some who were below par and didn't really seem to engage with the guests and it was apparent that Mr Luke clearly does not have enough quality staff to support the dive operation. However special mention needs to go to Hardy and Sorian who were superb, professional, good fun and made our holiday a memorable experience. In fact Hardy and Sorian are probably the main reason I'm giving this 4 stars! We'd go back again just to dive with them.
My biggest criticism of the dive operation was the reluctance from most of the staff to operate a zero tolerance approach to the numerous Chinese and Japanese divers who damaged the corals with their fins and tanks, poked and prodded coral and anemones with 'tank-bangers' and were frankly dangerous when diving (one swam straight to the service from 13metres down for no apparent reason and was allowed to dive again that day!) Mr Luke needs to take this in hand and support his staff to educate divers and if needed, not allow them to dive on the reef if they cannot control their buoyancy - particularly as Mataking tries to pride itself on being eco-friendly. Some of the divers clearly had no idea what coral was nor the damage they were causing from their clumsy diving. Unfortunately, the cynic in me feels that as it is these guests that represent most of the clientele, Mataking does not want to upset them.
Sipadan was great and we felt the MYR 150 per trip was acceptable given the boat journey, inclusive lunch and exclusivity of Sipadan permits - you're lucky to get to dive there and we were fortunate to be given 2 days out of 8.

The Food
Unfortunately the food is geared towards the many Chinese that visit Mataking. We were disappointed not to be given more Malaysian dishes and I agree with the earlier negative review, the buffet was a bit repetitive. Beware, the Chinese seem to have a custom of taking too much food so unless you were down for dinner at 7pm, it was likely the best of it had gone. The wait for food from the separate counter was often long - again due to the Chinese who would order 5 or 6 portions at a time, leaving a long wait for the other more considerate guests. Ironically, the restaurant could be so much better if it did not align itself to Chinese tastes so much. It has plenty of good staff, is clean and has a nice setting and atmosphere. On the rare occasion there was a Malaysian dish on the menu, it was so much better (the beef rendang and Malaysian chicken curry were excellent).
The drinks were expensive on Mataking - even during the happy hour but we were warned of this by our agent. We went on holiday to dive so were not intending to drink lots of alcohol. It is some way from the mainland so one has to be conscious of this.

The Room
We stayed in a standard room (Clownfish) and found it spacious and perfect for our stay. Comfortable bed, decent bathroom and spacious. Mozzies were not a problem for us as we had hardly any in the room and a blast from the bug killer before we went out to dinner and a dose of Deet around the ankles seemed to do the trick. We stayed on the island for 8 days and I left with about 5 bites. I can tolerate less than a bite a day! Mataking is a tropical island so there's going to be biting insects there. If you don't like being bitten, don't go to such a place.

Overall
We've been back 4 weeks now and think about it every day. Despite the negative comments I have made, there's clearly something special about Mataking. If you focus on the negative as some reviewers have done, you'll never be happy and there were definitely some people on the island who could have tried harder to enjoy themselves ;-) We'd definitely go back, I just wish they'd sort out the divers who damage the reef and serve more Malaysian food!

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Martin W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 12, 2011

I stayed with group of divers and I am also a diver myself. I loved and enjoyed a lot staying there and I surely want to go back!!!! Great service of the front desk, great service of restaurant and great diver masters. Except..there was a one Japanese DM and he really needs to learn how to be a DM -_-. I only can say he needs more experience even to be a "qualified" DM by all means. This is the reason why I give you "four stars" instead of "five stars". Anyways, thanks a lot for you guys to give us a beautiful memory....

Room Tip: VILLA is recommended!
  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with friends
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Thank Josephene S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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