Seaventures Dive Rig: Retired big oil rig near Borneo is a fully-equipped scuba school

Laurel Tuohy

Seaventures offers something that no other dive school in the world does — the chance to stay on a brightly-colored, retired oil rig perched on stilts above the water near Sipadan in Malaysian Borneo.

Photo: Seaventures Dive Rig

The resort was built to create a novel yet convenient experience for divers who want to stay in a cool accommodation while being only moments from some of the most highly-rated — and hard to reach — dive destinations in the world. The rig also welcomes those who just want to chill too (there are lower-priced packages for non-divers) — and guests can choose from dorms, twin cabins, and deluxe rooms that look more like a traditional hotel accommodations.

The rig itself was built in Panama and was formerly used in the oil and gas industry. It was retired in 1985 and dumped in a Singaporean shipyard until an ex-government official saw it and had the idea for a rig hotel that could live in the middle of the sea. It was also an eco-friendly exploit, since the rig was already built and sea-worthy, and only the poles had to be constructed for its resurrection as a hotel. The rig opened in its current spot in 1997 and still remains one of the world’s most unusual hotels.

Photo: Seaventures Dive Rig

Since you’re perched in the middle of the ocean for your stay (which has to be a minimum of four days and three nights), transport to and from the rig, three buffet meals per day, a few barbecue nights per week, and unlimited snacks are included, as are three off-rig dives for a three-day stay and unlimited dives off the house reef — which insiders say is best for viewing sea life directly under the rig since fish and other creatures like the shelter provided by the rig.

Photo: Seaventures Dive Rig

The accommodation also has wifi, a screening room, a sun deck with 360º views of the Celebes Sea, and a game room with snooker, mahjong, and table tennis. When you’re not diving, grab a boat to a nearby island to take in the local culture — previous visitors especially recommend Mabul Island.

The dive school carries all the equipment for training both in the classroom and in the water. They offer courses for everyone from beginning divers to near pros, try a learn to dive class, padi professional course, or freediving lessons.

Photo: Seaventures Dive Rig

Reviewers say they love it for the unique experience of staying on the retired rig, the relaxing deck, friendly expat and local staff and guests, and the fact that the staff preps all dive equipment, meaning you just need to put on your wetsuit and jump in.

Photo: Seaventures Dive Rig

Evenings are spent hanging out, sipping beers, talking about diving, and watching “epic Malaysian sunsets,” as one previous guest said.



Seaventures Dive Rig
Offshore Mabul, Sabah
Borneo, Malaysia
Four-day, three-night packages start at MYR 3,360(US$819) for divers, MYR 2,720(US$663) for non-divers

Map is for their office on the mainland:

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