Church Reef

Church Reef
Exploring Church Reef. Photo by:


Church Reef and the reef at Sibuan Island form a linked unit towards the northwest of Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Like Kapikan Reef, it is a patch reef (small, isolated coral platforms) that has no permanent island.

The area has long been identified as having considerable potential for scuba diving, muck diving and snorkeling due to the great biodiversity of the area.

The surrounding waters are usually crystal clear, with water currents being generally slight. There is an extensive shallow reef top and back-reef, with coral-fringed and sandy-bottomed lagoons in many areas.

Things To Do

Snorkeling & scuba diving
Church Reef’s coral platforms are known for some amazing snorkeling and diving opportunites.

Marine life commonly found in the area include the beautiful mandarinfish and pygmy seahorses as well as feather stars, seafans, tube sponges and agariciids.

Several dive resorts/operators organize snorkeling and diving day tours to Church Reef.


There are no hotels or resorts on Church Reef or any of the other islands within Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Most visitors to the island stay in the coastal town of Semporna, where hotels and dive packages are generally cheaper.

Alternatively, visitors also stay in Mabul, Pom Pom, Bum Bum, Mataking or Singamata, where day tours to the marine park are frequently organized.

Check this list for hotels and resorts that organize day tours to Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Getting Here

Church Reef is located ±35 minutes by boat from Semporna, ±25 minutes from Pom Pom, ±35 minutes from Mataking and ±1.5 hours from Mabul.

More Information

The reef rim’s circumference measures approximately 7.5 kilometers. It is generally regarded as being steep on all sides.

The steepest section lies in the northwest, where there is an almost vertical wall with depths of up to 40 meters, as well as caves and recesses going back about a meter.

The southwest-facing outer reef has an interesting profile with a deep shelf. It drops off steeply, mostly at an estimated 80°, with some parts being almost vertical.

A complex system of deeper lagoons is located towards the southwestern end of the reef. The depth in these lagoons may be 10 meters or more, and are almost cut-off at low tide by the outer reef.