About Mabul Island

It is little wonder Mabul is attracting ever-increasing numbers of visitors to its sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Aerial view of Malaysia’s Pulau Mabul and the surrounding reef.

Details

Mabul Island, or Pulau Mabul in the local Malay language, is located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah in Northern Borneo.

It is the main gateway to world-famous Sipadan, a protected dive site just 15-20 minutes away by speedboat.

Mabul Island’s luxury resorts make it a popular honeymoon destination. The island is also one of the only places on earth where you can stay on and dive from an oil rig jackup platform (Seaventures Dive Rig).

Home to the legendary Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) community, the tropical island also hosts turtle conservation programmes and the orientation workshop for the Miss Scuba International pageant.

The island

Mabul Island is a sandy, low-lying, oval-shaped island, about 20 hectares in area. A leisurely walk around the island takes about 1 to 1.5 hours.

There are no roads or cars here – a dirt path takes you across two villages, the island’s only school and football field, and through the splendid Sipadan-Mabul Resort (SMART).

Mabul Island offers some fantastic muck diving with critters galore – the macro life here range from blue-ringed octopus, ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses to endless varieties of nudibranchs.

Like Sipadan, Mabul has a healthy turtle population, and eagle rays are also known to patrol several of the island’s dive sites.

Bajau village on Mabul Island

About 2,500 people reside on Mabul Island today. The larger of the island’s two villages, Kampung Mabul, was established in the 1970s back when the entire island was a coconut plantation.

The second village is home to the Bajau Sea Gypsies, a nomadic ocean community whose young are often spotted paddling their own sea canoes around the island’s waters.

In the Bajau Sea Gypsies village, there are shops selling seashells, taxidermized triggerfish and shark jaw souvenirs  – visitors are urged not to purchase the latter in particular, as this facilitates the extermination of an endangered species.

Accommodation

From lavish, floating resorts to smaller, intimate chalets and cosy guesthouses as well as a one-of-a-kind oil rig jackup unit, Mabul accommodation suits every type of traveller’s needs.

Things to do

With water being a way of life on the island, popular lagoon excursions include snorkelling, diving, cruising, fishing, ocean kayaking, day trips to the Bajau Laut settlements in Tun Sakaran Marine Park and of course, turtle nesting and hatching activities.

Diving enthusiasts may stay on a liveaboard (MV Celebes Explorer packages) for dive safaris. You can also take your experience to new heights with helicopter tours of Mabul Island provided by SabahAir.

► More things to do in Mabul Island

Location

Mabul is one of dozens of islands reachable from Semporna, a coastal town in the Malaysian state of Sabah in North Borneo. The island is located in the tropical marine waters of the Coral Triangle, an area between Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines known as the ‘Amazon of the seas’, recognized by WWF as the global centre of marine biodiversity.

 Destination (by speedboat from Mabul)
Nearest townSemporna (±45 minutes)
Nearest airportTawau (±1.5 hours)
Nearby islands

Getting here
How to get to Mabul Island

See on map

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