For family holidays, Tun Sakaran Marine Park is a nature lab one minute and a marine playground the next.
It’s perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, bird watching and that romantic escape you’ve been yearning for.
What makes Sabah’s second largest marine park truly unique though is the people who live in it.
Tun Sakaran Marine Park is home to the legendary Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies), who lead a nomadic, seafaring lifestyle residing in houseboats and stilt houses built atop coral reefs.
There are 8 islands and 2 reefs in the marine park, all of which are unique and can be visited (see below).
There are no major tourist resorts in the vicinity of the marine park, which means less human impact and pollution.
The marine park is believed to be home to one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on earth and was once compared to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by representatives of the UK’s Marine Conservation Society.
Things To Do
1. Island Hopping
Bohey Dulang – With plenty of activities, this is the most popular island in the marine park.
Bodgaya – Connected to Bohey Dulang, Bodgaya is the biggest island in the marine park.
Maiga – Beautiful islet located in between Sibuan and Selakan.
Mantabuan – Smallest island in the marine park. Just 2 kilometers from the northern tip of Bohey Dulang.
Sibuan – Great for snorkeling or diving as Sibuan shares the same Alice Channel as Sipadan Island.
Sebangkat – Nearest island to the mainland (10-15 minutes from Semporna).
Selakan – Most populated island in the marine park. Has a school which serves all 8 islands.
Tetagan – Small island located at the tip of Bodgaya.
Kapikan Reef – Also known as ‘Lonely Reef’. Connected to the reef at Mantabuan.
Church Reef – Connected to the reef at Sibuan.
2. Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Diving in Tun Sakaran Marine Park is excellent, as the relatively untouched beauty of the surrounding area makes it one of the most exciting dive sites in the region.
Several dive resorts/operators from the area organize snorkeling and diving day tours to the marine park. Some dive operators organize their PADI Open Water diving courses here.
3. Giant Clam and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery
Tun Sakaran Marine Research Unit’s seaweed farming and Giant Clam and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery is well worth a visit. Up to 7 different species of rare giant clams are bred here.
Prepare to be greeted by a host of tropical flora and fauna during the arduous but rewarding hiking trail to the top of Bohey Dulang Peak (353 meters).
Majestic views of the sapphire blue lagoon await those who make it through the hour long climb. Visitors are advised to wear shoes for the hike to the top.
5. Bird Watching
Pulau Bohey Dulang was declared a bird sanctuary in 1933, a status that was revoked in 1978 as a preliminary for the establishment of the marine park.
Today, it is still a paradise for bird watchers where species including black-naped fruit doves, owls, hornbills, partridges and babblers freely roam the area.
6. Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) Village
Most visitors to the marine park come to catch a glimpse of the Bajau Laut settlements set amidst the picturesque backdrops of the various islands in the area, including Bodgaya, Bohey Dulang, Maiga, Sibuan, Mantabuan and others.
There are no hotels or resorts in 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.
The nearest island in Tun Sakaran Marine Park to the mainland is Sebangkat, about 10-15 minutes by boat from Semporna.
The marine park can also be reached and is frequently visited by visitors from Pom Pom (±20 minutes), Mataking (±30 minutes) and Mabul (±1.5 hours).
Learn about the exciting history and evolution behind Sabah’s second largest marine park, which goes back as far as 1933.