Homestays and lodges built over the sea comprise the bulk of Mabul Island budget accommodation.
While most Mabul budget hotels have an on-site restaurant where meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are served, separate charges may apply for airport and jetty transfer (more on how to get here).
You do not have to stay in Mabul in order to go snorkeling or diving here. If budget is your main concern, then you may wish to consider staying at a seafront hotel in Semporna, where accommodation and dive packages are generally cheaper.
Mabul budget accommodation (with Sipadan Permits)
1. Uncle Chang Sipadan (7 Permits)
Wooden lodge built on stilts over the ocean with dorm, double, family and seaview chalets available. All rooms come with private bathrooms.
1 day diving in Sipadan from RM600 (non-divers), RM720 (2 dives) and RM750 (3 dives).
Read about Uncle Chang Sipadan on TripAdvisor
2. Billabong Scuba (6 Permits)
Homestay chalets built on stilts over the sea with different room types available. Options include air-conditioned rooms and attached bathrooms.
1 day diving in Sipadan from RM848 (3 dives).
Read about Billabong Scuba on TripAdvisor
Other Mabul budget accommodation
1. Dream Home Mabul Homestay
Brand new homestay in Mabul with 14 rooms. Features a barbeque pit and spacious sun terrace.
2. Arung Hayat Sipadan Adventures Dive Center (link)
Mabul accommodation consisting of a guesthouse built over the ocean. Fan, air-cond and VIP rooms available. Not to be confused with the hotel in Semporna town called Arung Hayat Hotel (link).
Read about Arung Hayat (in Mabul) on TripAdvisor
3. Spheredivers Lodge
Located within the Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) village on the island, this homestay is constructed on stilts built over the sea. Available: twin and triple sharing rooms with shared bathrooms.
Read about Spheredivers Lodge on TripAdvisor
4. Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge (link)
Dorm rooms and standard rooms with attached bathrooms, ceiling fans and ocean views available in this homestay lodge.
Read about Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge on TripAdvisor
Check pricing for Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge on Agoda.com
5. Sipadan Dive Centre (SDC) Mabul Lodge (link)
Beachside lodge with 10 seafront Rainbow Chalets that come with air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms (hot shower), and 4 water-village-view Goby rooms (triple sharing).
Read about SDC Mabul Lodge on TripAdvisor
Check pricing for Sipadan Dive Centre (SDC) Mabul Lodge on Agoda.com
6. Scuba Jeff Sipadan
Private beach accommodation or sharing rooms built over the sea available here. Features an ‘ocean hammock’ area.
Unlimited jetty/house reef diving
Read about Scuba Jeff Sipadan on TripAdvisor
7. Summer Friends Homestay
Homestay built on stilts in the middle of a fishing village with 10 rooms (single, twin, triple & quad sharing) and 6 detached bathrooms.
All rooms are equipped with fans.
Read about Summer Friends Homestay on TripAdvisor
8. Mabul Backpackers Longhouse & Dive Center
Longhouse extending over the sea from the beach with twin and double sharing or dormitory rooms available.
Choose between shared or ensuite bathrooms.
Read about Mabul Backpackers Longhouse & Dive Center on TripAdvisor
Keep in mind that not all hotels, resorts or dive operators are allocated a Sipadan permit directly from the government. That being said, there is a rich secondary market for permits.
If your dive operator is unable to provide a permit, they may obtain one for you at a premium or book that day with a dive operator who can.