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Reviewed March 11, 2017

Not exactly what we thought we were getting into... We expected a luxury resort and fine accommodations. The Reef Dive Resort is not exactly that... and after being there, I do appreciate it for what it is - it is on a sand bar, after all! It seems as though this location was established as a fabulous diver-focused destination, and I am sure 10 years ago all the people who flocked here were divers and marine biologists, like me. However, that is not the case now, as the vast majority (99.9%) of guests are non-divers and from China.

Half of the island is military based (there goes that romance/luxury...). Armed guards escort the dive operations to Sipidan. Armed guards are all over the island. The safety is appreciated, no doubt. But just something to keep in mind that there are gunned military all over the property and boats.

The staff are wonderful and went out of their way to accommodate us. They were able to accommodate our vegan diets with ease - such excellent vegan curries! We were so appreciate of their efforts to make delicious vegan meals for us. Food times, however, were quite stressful, as the other guests were rude, cut in line (as it is a buffet), emptied the community serving bowls, belched and were generally unfriendly. This atmosphere took away from our dining experience.

The diving operations are stellar. The staff are very knowledgeable and experienced. We felt very comfortable with the dive team. We were very shocked and disappointed to learn, once we arrived, that all snorkeling and swimming require a life jacket. That is right. A life jacket. It was very unfortunate to learn that in order to just swim or snorkel off the beautiful beaches, we had to wear a life jacket. Very upsetting.

We rented the beach villa. It had all the necessities. Our main complaint is that the bathroom/toilet area had a very unpleasant smell.

Do keep in mind it is a long journey to Mataking Island. Once we landed in Tawau (which is a 3 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur), we had an hour + bus ride to Semporna, and then and hour + boat ride to the island. It makes for a long day. Bring snacks!

The natural environment really is amazing. Sipadan is incredible. All the land-based complaints seem to diminish considering the amazing beaches, sunset and reef diving. Truly an incredible dive destination!

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Stacey K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 1, 2017 via mobile

isolated, peaceful, a true paradise with stunning views over and under the water, this is exactly that kind of place where you can leave behind the daily mess to relax and enjoy yourself, especially when the Internet connection is limited to the minimum level XD, both good and bad.
We booked a 5D4N and extended for another stay when we finished our ow training and headed to the famous Sipadan. As we spend most of the days around dive center and with the dive crew, I have to give them extra stars on top of already very friendly stuff. Yin is a very good instructor, detailed, responsible, funny and mentally unstabe, overall a joyful fellow, if you go take your diving class on the Island, this man, with a small extra dingding (you will know what I'm taking about when you see it, yes, you will see it), is your man.
Thumbs up for Jerry! Thanks for the Sipadan trip, and also toes up for his one of a kind personal PADI chop! May the belly not affect your buoyancy!
TERIMA KASIH!
PS: It's a shame that we have to come in the raining season, missed great sunrise and sunset, and I'm told that the water would be more clear and amazing, maybe we should start to plan next trip...

Stayed: January 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank jason z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 26, 2017

We were staying on Mataking for 7 nights. We really loved the island, the beach is beautiful, snorcheling as well but hotel was different to what we expected.

We were a group of 2 families and each got different rooms, even when we payed the same amount. Their explanation was that some rooms are renovated and some not. Well howcome are they the same price? This problem was solved after an hour on the reception. We got villas for 2 days and then we moved to the renovated rooms. We were satisfied but if you get an old room you might be a little dissapointed.

The restaurant. We really liked the staff, most of them were really friendly and helpfull but there are probably some managment problems. Every evening we bought bottle of wine and when one glass was broken we had to pay for it. Never happened to any of us ever. We were informed before that in all inclusive the coffe is only nescafe and if we want espreso or latte we have to pay for that. That would not be a problem but they said the machine is broken and might be repaired in 2-3 weeks. Well, great.
The food was quite good, what we would welcome is more fruit.

Tha bar. In the bar we had a little problem with the staff. There was only one waiter. We asked for fresh orange juice and when we got it we knew it is not fresh so we returned it and he said it is fresh and he can show us the peel and later he admited that he gave there sunquick. Why would he add sunquick if it was fresh juice? Later we were there playing pool and also singing on the karaoke and he told us we havee to pay if we want to sing. Like what? We are in a hotel. Well and when we left he was there singing, so he got what he wanted.

Otherwise we enjoyed the holiday, totally would recommend to someone else. But first inform them, there will be some problems with the staff or rooms. We had a great holiday just with some inconveniences.

Room Tip: Ask for renovated room
  • Stayed: January 2017, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank Timkama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 1, 2017

Was here for 4D3N and truly enjoyed ourselves. Small beautiful island focusing on diving and snorkeling (you can also do kayaking). The staffs here are very helpful. We had an issue where our son got sick, they took care of us by sending us back to Semporna and then Nelson took us to the nearest hospital/clinic. Truly enjoyed our time here and highly recommended. If you going to Sipadan it takes 1.5 hours boat ride from Mataking while Mabul or Kapalai is nearer.

  • Stayed: December 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank garyngkt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 18, 2016 via mobile

After more than three months of travelling in SEA, we decided to spoil ourselves on our last destination...and we couldn't have picked a better spot! When we arrived at the jetty, we were greeted with a friendly smile and a cool drink. The beach was White, the sea blue and the sun was shining....heaven! We spent 6 nights here, and enjoyed every second. Snorkling by the house reef was amazing, we saw lots of turtles and a great variety of fish, loads of them. We were Lucky enough to go diving at Sipadan, which we will never forget. We will also remember the lovely staff, the delicious food and the attention to detail....it was Paradise!!

Stayed: December 2016, travelled as a couple
1  Thank hannekebisseling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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