How to get to Mabul Island

This is generally the route to travel when thinking of visiting Semporna, Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai, Pom Pom, Mataking or any neighbouring islands including those in Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Note: Your resort/dive operator may offer transportation at competitive prices for airport pickup + boat ride to Mabul, so it is best to check beforehand.

Check out this article if you’re heading from Singapore to Sipadan.

1. Fly to Tawau

Tawau Airport is the nearest airport to the islands. It is located in Sabah, one of two Malaysian states in Northern Borneo.

Direct flights to Tawau Airport (IATA:TWU) are available from the following 5 cities:

Route Duration Frequency Airline
Kuala Lumpur to Tawau 2.5 hours 6 flights daily MAS, AirAsia
Kota Kinabalu to Tawau 55 minutes 7 flights daily MAS, AirAsia
Sandakan to Tawau 40 minutes 2 flights daily MAS
Johor Bahru to Tawau 2.5 hours 4 flights a week AirAsia
Tarakan (Indonesia) to Tawau 40 minutes 5 flights per week MAS

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2. Tawau Airport to Semporna jetty

There are 2 ways to get from Tawau Airport to Semporna.

Taxi

±RM95 per airport taxi from Tawau Airport to Semporna jetty. Duration: ±75 minutes.
If you are travelling in a group, this may be the best option as the taxi fare can be shared between group members.

Bus/Minivan (via Tawau town)

If you plan to take a bus, you need to firstly get from Tawau Airport to Tawau town, where all buses depart.

I. Tawau Airport to Sabindo Square Express Bus Terminal (in Tawau town)

Airport taxi (±RM48) from Tawau Airport to Sabindo Square. Duration: ±35 minutes.

Note: There used to be a shuttle bus (RM10) from Tawau Airport to Tawau town, but based on our enquiries with Tawau Airport, this service was terminated in 2014.

II. Sabindo Square Express Bus Terminal to Semporna

Bus/minivan (±RM15) from Sabindo Square to Semporna. Duration: ±1 hour 30 minutes.

Bus timetable from Tawau to Semporna

Note: Bus departures vary from time to time. To ensure that you do not have to wait for long in Tawau town to board a bus to Semporna, do check the timetables beforehand.

At times, minivans may also be found outside Tawau Airport. Minivans have a more flexible schedule, usually operating between 6.00am and 5.30pm.

Take note that most minivans depart only after all seats are filled up. If you do manage to board a minibus outside Tawau Airport, and there are still seats available by the time it is ready to depart, the minivan may head to Tawau town first to pick up more passengers before continuing on to Semporna.

3. Speedboat from Semporna to Mabul

The final leg of your journey will consist of a 35 to 45-minute (depending on weather conditions) boat ride from the jetty in Semporna, which is near the town center.

Boats from Semporna to Mabul and neighbouring islands are organized by dive operators/resorts.

Visitors who will not be staying in Mabul may tour the island by joining snorkeling/diving day trips organized by resorts/dive operators in Semporna town.