Of all the islands in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Pulau Sebangkat is the nearest to the mainland.
On a clear day, it can be seen from the coastal town of Semporna, located about 10 kilometers away. It takes a mere 10-15 minutes to reach the island by boat.
A beautiful stretch of sandy beach lies towards the southwestern corner of the island. Snorkel in the calm waters among the seagrass and if you’re lucky, you may get to spot some common seahorses.
On the way back, why not drop by Singamata Reef for even more snorkeling or diving.
There is a vibrant seaweed farming community living in Sebangkat Island, where the waters are suitable for seaweed cultivation.
A seaweed farm operates from the island and there are cultivation plots in shallow areas towards the northern shore. Seaweed is dried in open spaces around the village and then sold in Semporna.
Due to the proximity of the island to the mainland, there have been plans to build a visitor center and ‘water village’ or ‘water chalet’ style developments towards the southwestern corner of the island.
However, complications due to the presence of Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) and Suluk people in and around the island have put such plans on hold for the time being.
Things To Do
Snorkeling & scuba diving
Pulau Sebangkat is a wonderful muck diving site. It is one of the lesser known wonders of the marine park, where you may find pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, shrimps, pipefish, sea slugs, countless species of reef fishes and the Gorgonian seafan located at depths of about 16-18 meters.
Learn more about seaweed farming from the vibrant community in Sebangkat Island.
Bajau Laut village
There is a small, friendly community of Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) living in and around this island.
There are no hotels or resorts on Pulau Sebangkat 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.
Check this list for hotels and resorts that organize day tours to Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
Pulau Sebangkat is located ±15 minutes by boat from Semporna, ±30 minutes from Pom Pom, ±35 minutes from Mataking and ±1.5 hours from Mabul.
It is believed that much of the population moved from the village on the island onto the Sebangkat-Selakan reef top when the seaweed cultivation project began.
Cultivation of seaweed is now the main economic activity on the island. Fishing has
become a secondary activity, mainly for personal consumption.