My Seaventures: Livin’ on a Rig in Borneo [Photo Essay + Video]

ocean views from dive rig in Borneo, Malaysia

Already enchanted by the Malaysian Borneo, I was swept away from Mabul Island to the quirky Seaventures Dive Rig. There, I was given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore Sipadan and other stunning sites in the area for a second time–in the same week. I couldn’t believe it!

My biggest surprise, though? The dive rig itself became a top highlight of my entire week in Borneo. Even more so than some of the dive sites! Continue reading to find out why 😉

Seaventures, Malaysia: Livin’ on a Rig in Borneo

Imagine living on a converted oil rig: a floating platform over the ocean where 20% of the world’s coral reefs thrive.


The story of Seaventures is even more fascinating than that, though. For starters, the dive rig was actually built in PANAMA, Central America.

For a few tours, it was used to accommodate workers as an oil and gas rig – being towed from assignment to assignment.

sunset, Malaysian Borneo dive rig

But its career ended in 1985, when it was sent to a shipyard in Singapore – and nearly forgotten.

And theeeeeeeeen…the former Chief Minister of Sabah stumbled upon it and had the brilliant idea to converting it into a dive resort.

What he didn’t know at the time is that the structure would actually morph into one of the finest artificial reefs in the region.

Ecotourism at its finest!

Inside the Dive Rig

Borneo dive rig deck

I was converted: staying on a dive rig was even cooler than staying on an overwater bungalow.

Yes, really.

I felt as if I were aboard a cruise ship, actually — but no sea sickness. Ever.

And, contrary to initial belief, I had a greater sense of freedom and space.

inside dive rig resort, Malaysia

From such heights, I could fully appreciate how gorgeous the Malaysian Borneo is.

Everywhere I went, expansive ocean vistas followed me.

I could see villagers going about their business. Kids splashing by fishing boats, too.

I even saw turtles and shoals of fish from the freakin’ sundeck!

dive rig oceanview

Daily afternoon boat trips were offered to a village in Mabul Island. However, I loved the Seaventures Dive Rig so much I never wanted to spend every precious second on it–except when it was time to DIVE!

Diving in Sipadan ONE. More. Time

Despite an impending storm, Sipadan still shone. In fact, the stark contrast of gray clouds and bright aqua waters further deepened the island’s imprint on my heart.

Sadly, I didn’t encounter the resident barracuda vortex again….

Sipadan barracuda vortex, Borneo Malaysia

Sipadan barracuda vortex by Seaventures Dive Rig team

Visibility was negatively affected, too…

…BUT! The waters still looked pristine.

Sipadan beach, Borneo Malaysia

AND I managed to spot several sharks and other fantastic marine life.

Barrel sponge coral spawning. A turtle threesome (they were really doing it, I mean mating). Silver tip, white tip and gray reef sharks.

LOTS of them. Lots of them all!

diving in Sipadan, sea turtle

adorable sea turtle in Sipadan by Jonathan Sanchez

More Surprises in Mabul

Seeing Mabul’s tiny, camouflaged residents again was another treat.

Several cuttlefish, my favorite juvenile yellow box fish, ribbon eels, scorpion fish, pygmy seahorses, and the most gigantic crocodile fish ever!

And the star of the show: a peacock mantis shrimp being attacked by a fish.

I squealed so hard underwater, I scared both critters away. Hahaha!

Luckily, I spotted many others 😉

pygmy seahorses, Mabul island

find the pygmy seahorse! Photo by Seaventures manager Jonathan Sanchez

And some of the fattest nudibranches I’ve seen in my life:

fat nudibranch, Seaventures house reef

Seaventures House Reef

Shockingly though, the best dives during my stay at Seaventures were the ones at their very own house reef!

The artificial reefs under the rig have attracted an incredible variety of residents: from elusive red orange/blue flamboyant cuttlefish and juvenile yellow box fish to large schools of Chevron barracuda and yellowtail trevally.

yellowtail trevally shoal, Malaysian Borneo diving

And the night dives there? Unparalleled!

Massive bumphead parrot fishes, moray eels, pipefish, tiny baby octopuses. Ah!

Borneo night dive, octopus cuttlefish

crazy front view of colorful cuttlefish on a night dive by Jonathan Sanchez

But the fooooood

Oh gosh, and the food?

Spicy fish curries. Grilled lamb shanks. Deviled eggs. Sweet and sour tofu.

And a seemingly-endless supply of top-notch pastries, ice cream, and cookies.

dive rig barbecue night


It all tastes even better during BBQ night, with a side of live music!

Why, oh why am I back to America? Take me back to Malaysia, please!

Seaventures dive rig

Dive rig resort photo by Jonathan Sanchez

Many thanks to Melinda, Jonathan, and the fantastic staff at Seaventures Dive Rig for such an unforgettable stay.

*Even though it was comped, I was not given any payment for positive reviews. This photo essay truly reflects my experience in the Malaysian Borneo.

I can’t wait to go back there and pay every single penny it’s worth!

This entry was posted in Malaysia by Maria Alexandra. Bookmark the permalink.

About Maria Alexandra

Maria Laborde, aka latinAbroad, is an open-minded, highly-energetic woman with the spirit of a child. A world citizen, Puerto Rican at heart, carrier of an American passport. A passionate translator and writer, sprinkling Latin spice around the world!

3 thoughts on “My Seaventures: Livin’ on a Rig in Borneo [Photo Essay + Video]

  1. Very cool Maria. That looks like an awesome place.
    I might have to stop following your blog – I’m getting too many places and activities to add to the never-ending bucket list !!

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