Tetagan Island

Tetagan Island
The Sea Gypsies of Tetagan.

Tetagan Island is only about 30.25 (0.3025km²) hectares in size. It is connected to Bodgaya Island by a shallow channel.

It is considerably lower than Bodgaya, with a maximum elevation of about 80m. This island used to have a flourishing village, the economy of which was mainly based around fishing and gardening.

The slopes rise fairly steeply and the shoreline is rocky in many places.

A narrow beach runs along the northwest of the island, which extends into a sand spit towards the northern tip of the island.

There was previously a large Bajau settlement on Tetagan, with around 200-250 people living on the island during its peak.

However, most left in the 1950s and 1960s to take advantage of government resettlement schemes. The last family left just before 1980 and all that remains is a burial ground.

Things To Do

Sea Gypsies Village
Most visitors to Pulau Tetagan come to see the Sea Gypsies living near Pulau Bodgaya and Pulau Bohey Dulang.


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

Most visitors to the island prefer to stay in the coastal town of Semporna, where accommodation and dive packages are cheap.

Alternatively, visitors also stay in resorts in Mabul, Pom Pom, Mataking or Singamata and are brought in by boat.

Getting Here

Tetagan is located about ±35 minutes by boat from Semporna, ±20 minutes from Pom Pom, ±30 minutes from Mataking and ±1.5 hours from Mabul.


There are 3 possible derivations for the name of the island. One meaning of ‘tetagan’ in Bajau is interconnecting. This could relate to the fact that the island is lying adjacent to, and connected with, Bodgaya.

Another meaning for the word in the Bajau language is ‘hospitable site’ which may refer to its suitability as a site for settlement.

However, according to legend, the word Tetagan comes from the word ‘Tetag’, meaning ‘to slash’. This is based on a story of a fierce man who lived on the island and would slash any visitors.