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“Great resort but not for diving”

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The Reef Dive Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Mataking
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 March 2017

I dived at the house reef last year when I was staying at nearby Pom Pom island, and Mataking looked grand, so I decided to try it out.

Check in was a little confusing when we arrived at lunch time, proceeded to eat, went to the reception and were then sent to the bar to fill up forms. After checking in and the first dive a general briefing was given on what to do, safety, options, meal times, etc.

Let me start with the positives. The island, and its smaller sister island, are beautiful with white sandy beaches and fantastic clear blue waters. The basic Garden View unit I stayed in, was renovated and possibly the best dive resort room I have lived in. Later on I was upgraded to a King Villa, which while bigger and beach fronting, was a little tired and dark.

No problems with mosquitoes.

Overall the maintenance was good, rooms and gardens were clean and I felt safe all the way with a security base providing ample protection.

The dive center was well laid out and clean. Equipment was newer than average and kept clean. They even gave a briefing and a tour of the center before the 1st dive. Shore dives were unlimited with boat pickups (unusually generous), and all equipment was prepared and waiting on the boat every day.

The downside? Food was bad. Although they changed the menu daily, generally it was tasteless, boring and lukewarm. That was really disappointing given the prestige of the place. I didn't know if it was to cater for the majority of their foreign customers but in no way did it represent the diversity and quality of Malaysian food.

Secondly, it may have been bad luck, but i only took probably 20 pictures while diving over 4 days. In comparison, I took double or triple of that in every dive off Pom Pom island. Was it the dive masters or just poor weather? I guess I won't know but I will probably go back to Mabul or Pom Pom for macro photography.

In summary, this is a great place for families and couples. For recreational divers who like lazy dives, corals and turtles, this is the place to be.

Room Tip: Ask for renovated rooms. Garden View Nos 1 - 8 are closest to the dive center.
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  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Seow Loong F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 14 March 2017

My wife and I had our wonderful stay for 2 nights there.
Beautiful landscapes everywhere.
We stayed in the Villa, which is a few steps away from the beach.
The villa had a nice backyard jacuzzi, for you to relax in its warm water.
The villa is massive and very comfortable.
The view to the beach is somehow blocked by trees and shrubs so you have to walk in front and lounge on the deck chair to view the sunset.
There are four meal times; breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.
No in-room dining though.

Snorkelling by the beach is awesome enough!
Spotted a turtle swimming while snorkelling along the shore reefs.
Walking to the smaller Mataking Kecil island via the sandbar is an interesting experience, and only available when the tide is low.

There is quite a handful of activities you can do there, and not all requires money.

1) In-room minibar is limited; bring your own snacks if you wish to munch in the room.
2) Resort's shop sells limited food supply; tapioca chips, some nuts and ice cream.

Room Tip: Villas are facing west and is near to reception, restaurant, jetty and dive centre
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  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Thank Muhd A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 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 skilarski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 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!
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 eastwood z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 January 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
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  • Stayed: January 2017, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Timkama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 January 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 18 December 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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Additional Information about The Reef Dive Resort

Address: Mataking 91000, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Mataking
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Mataking
Price Range: $647 - $695 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Reef Dive Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 49
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Reef Dive Resort at Mataking Island is an exclusive romantic & diving destination in the Celebes Sea, located just 40 minutes boat ride from Semporna, East Coast of Sabah in Malaysia. It is a promised island with majestic treasures, natural warmth and friendship for holiday makers, spa lovers, honeymooners and divers alike. Whether it is a retreat for yourself or exciting undersea exploration, you’ll find Mataking the perfect choice.The resort is caressed by the tropical sea breeze. Our executive king chalets, premier deluxe rooms and brand new luxurious beach villas designed in traditional architecture offering simply elegant and exquisite accommodation for up to 100 guests in a serene and cozy environment. Enjoy Malaysian and International cuisine with an enticing spread of fresh local seafood or relish the weekend barbecued favorites at our sea facing restaurant. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pulau Mataking Reef Dive Hotel Pulau Sipadan

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