All about Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai

Aerial view of Pulau Mabul and the surrounding reef.

8 things you should know before your Mabul Island trip

Pulau Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai are located so close to each other (15-20 minutes by speedboat) that they are often visited together.

Mabul Island accommodation caters to every budget. Most homestays, lodges, hotels and resorts are situated on the island itself while one is located on a modified, offshore oil rig about 500 meters from the beach.

There are no hotels or resorts on world-famous Sipadan, all visitors stay in Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking or Semporna town.

Sipadan Permits are required for visiting the island, a marine park gazetted in 2009.

The main activities here are diving and snorkeling. Ocean kayaking and island hopping are popular too (more things to do in Mabul Island).

The legendary Bajau Laut people, nicknamed the ‘nomads of the sea’, live in and around Mabul.

Day tours to Tun Sakaran Marine Park and other nearby islands, i.e. Siamil, Kulapuan, etc. can be organized (check with your resort/dive operator).

If you visit around April, be sure to check out the Regatta Lepa festival. If you’re coming in November, you’ll be arriving just in time for the Miss Scuba International competition.

Tun Sakaran Marine Park

If you have time on your hands, or would like to venture further out, another great way to spend the day in Mabul is to visit Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

The marine park is a ±1.5 hour journey from Mabul, but is well worth a visit.

It is the second largest marine park in Sabah, consisting of 8 islands and 2 reefs:

Bohey Dulang – With plenty of activities, this is by far the most popular island in this marine protected area.

Bodgaya – Connected to Bohey Dulang, Bodgaya is the biggest island in the marine park.

Sibuan – Famous even before Sipadan was discovered. Great for snorkeling, diving or picnics.

Mantabuan – Smallest island in the marine park. Just 2 kilometers from the northern tip of Bohey Dulang.

Maiga – Beautiful islet located in between Sibuan and Selakan.

Sebangkat – Nearest island to the mainland (10-15 minutes by boat from Semporna).

Selakan – Most populated island in the marine park. Has a school which serves all 8 islands.

Tetagan – Small island located at the tip of Bodgaya.

Kapikan Reef – Also known as ‘Lonely Reef’. Connected to the reef at Mantabuan.

Church Reef – Connected to the reef at Sibuan.