Billabong Scuba wins for having the most picturesque guesthouse on Mabul: charming blue-grey individual stilted chalets are perched above the turquoise reef, connected via wooden boardwalks and bridges.
Rooms are simple, but the bright-coloured interiors, wooden floors and (firm) comfortable beds move the fairly spartan rooms up a notch. Basic rooms with fans and share bathrooms sit toward the land, and as you move out over the sea the price and facilities move up. However, air-con and hot water only work when the power’s on from 18:00-06:00, but you’ll be out diving or snorkelling all day anyway. Bathrooms are basic but clean and fun checkerboard lino gives them a lift. The hot water is brackish, but feels slightly fresher than the sea.
The seafront chalets offer small furnished private balconies, and for everyone else the over-water restaurant at the end of the pier is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down and the sea creatures swim past. Simple Malay-style buffet meals are included, and you’ll have to buy additional drinks elsewhere. Three dives with Billabong Scuba costs 265 ringgit, and they can arrange Sipadan permits (three dives 742 ringgit). Snorkelling from the boat is 53 ringgit, or free off the jetty. Non-divers pay an additional 100 ringgit for the first night on top of prices below, and after that rooms are the same price.
Type of room, low and high season prices
Room: Dbl fan share bathroom, low season: 140 ringgit, high season 140 ringgit. Notes:
Room: Dbl fan private bathroom, low season: 180 ringgit, high season 180 ringgit. Notes:
Room: Dbl air-con private bathroom, low season: 240 ringgit, high season 240 ringgit. Notes:
Room: Beachfront bungalow, low season: 360 ringgit, high season 360 ringgit. Notes: Seafront.
T: (089) 781 866
Room rates: 60 to 120 ringgit