Bizarre Hotel of the Month: Dive off an Oil Rig

Back in 2009 Morris Architects created waves with their proposal to repurpose unused oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico as luxury eco hotels. These autonomous structures out at sea would be able to generate all of their own power from their environment whilst offering guests a sumptuous stay where they could dive, waterski and snorkel to their heart’s content.

Morris Architects Oil Rig Hotel
Image Morris Architects

Sadly nothing has yet come out of that plan, but if it’s the scuba diving that gets you going then you’re in luck. We have discovered a fully functioning dive hotel set on an ex-oil rig in Malaysia.

It’s not the same luxury experience – the Seaventures Rig Resort is all about the scuba diving opportunities rather than activities on the rig. But as diving goes it’s hard to beat. The rig lies extremely close to the Sipadan Island and the marine park – where you can see pygmy seahorses, green and hawksbill turtles, gigantic schools of barracuda and oooh, about 3,000 other species of fish, plus hundreds of varieties of coral. Together it makes up one of the richest areas of marine diversity, not to mention one of the best rated dive sites, in the world.

View from Mabul
View from Mabul – Image © i.mage

Excursions go off daily to the surrounding marine reserves and there’s unlimited diving in the ‘house reefs’ which includes specially constructed dive sites underneath the dive resort plus sunken wrecks and caverns. There’s a dive lift from the rig (a godsend for those who know how heavy and awkward scuba dive gear is on land!) and night dives are allowed here too.

You’ve got to be a pretty dedicated diver to get out here. Permits to Sipadan are hard to come by (though if you stay at least two nights and three days at the rig resort you’re guaranteed at least one day Sipadam permit!) and it’s a little off the beaten track… as in three flights and a boat ride if your beaten track runs through the UK.

Facilities wise the rig resort has a bar. There’s food (including BBQ nights). There are free boat rides to neighbouring islands. There’s a sun deck with 360 degree views. There’s a great sociable atmosphere with band night and plenty of other passionate divers to compare notes with…

But essentially none of that matters. This resort really is about the diving. And since that’s the case I’ll leave you to enjoy this close up of a trunk fish, taken underneath the rig, instead:

Yellow Trunk Fish
Yellow Trunk Fish – Image © John Shardlow

Tempted? Find flights to Malaysia