The resort is located at the southeastern side of Mabul. Visitors will usually arrive at the main jetty fronting Sipadan Water Village Resort (a bit of a misnomer because it is in Mabul, not Sipadan; they are two different islands altogether). From the main jetty beach, walk through the well-marked path through the coconut alley until you get to the other side of the island where this resort is located.
The coconut trees are the main theme of this resort. In fact, it claims that the resort is "nestled in a coconut grove", and I couldn't agree more. To me, it is a unique experience to stay at this resort that successfully blends in the natural vegetation amidst Bajau Laut (sea gypsy) village settings.
The resort has 40 wooden chalets built within the coconut tree plantation. Room amenities are quite standard: single or double beds, couch, ceiling fan, air conditioner and open-air veranda.
SMART Resort also features 12 units of water bungalow, which as the name suggests, are built above the crystal-clear ocean. Naturally, the interior offering for these water bungalows are more plush and modern to befit the 4-digit price tag that they carry.
There is a main reception-cum-lounging area called The Deco which has a restaurant where daily meals are served, and an outdoor make-shift swimming pool, which I felt that rather unnecessary with the inviting beach of Mabul is just right nearby.
Finally, the resort also has a dive centre where you can satiate your daily needs of underwater actions at either Mabul itself, or nearby Sipadan.
The beach fronting the resort is rather rocky and seems unsuitable for swimming. A short 5 minutes walk will bring you to the beach fronting Sipadan Water Village Resort which is the better spot for relaxing and sun-worshipping.
And yes, the muck-diving at Mabul is world-renown. So I don't really need to introduce that. While I have yet to actually dive in Mabul, but I have done a snorkeling trip at a spot called Lobster Wall which is directly facing this resort. This might sound funny, but I muck-snorkeled there and I thought the variety of marine life I encountered was quite outstanding.
Just for the record, there are about 8 documented dive sites surrounding Mabul: Froggy Lair, Crocodile Avenue, Coral Reef Garden, Eel Garden, Ray Point, Nudibranch Centre, Lobster Wall and Panglima Reef.
And then, there is Sipadan, of course!
The price package is differentiated for diver- and non-divers. A 2D/1N stay for diver will cost you RM1,945 (non-diver: RM1,289) which include one night stay at the standard chalet, round-trip transfer from Tawau Airport (TWU) to Semporna, and subsequently boat transfer from Semporna to Mabul. Meals are full board (I doubt that you have much choice to eat at other places anyway). There will be 3 dives per day for each night stay, at either Sipadan, Mabul or Kapalai.
As always, prices quoted were correct at the time of review and are subject to changes by the resort.
*As of 1st April 2006, there is a new restriction of daily diving on Sipadan. This is the quoted information that I could gather regarding this new ruling:
The resort will sending two dive boats at any one time to Sipadan up to three times per day. All the divers will go there by rotation basis. Basically each diver can only do one dive per day at Sipadan and the remaining two dives will be carried out at Mabul or Kapalai.