Sabah island hopping

One of the best places to go island hopping in Sabah is from the town of Semporna, the gateway to hundreds of islands off its coast.

Sabah island hopping map

Location map of Darvel Bay and the islands off Semporna.

Semporna’s islands

Semporna is truly a great place to begin your journey of island hopping in Sabah, simply because there are so many islands, islets and sand cays in the area. The most popular ones include:

Pulau Mabul – Not just the main gateway to Sipadan but an emerging destination by itself.

Pulau Sipadan – Tropical paradise protected by the government that is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best dive sites.

Pulau Kapalai – Dream destination for those who seriously wish to get away from it all. Especially popular among couples and newlyweds.

Pulau Mataking – One of Semporna’s most unique islands. Home to Malaysia’s first underwater post office. Several popular TV shows were filmed here.

Pulau Pom Pom – Home to the Tropical Research and Conservation Center and a significant nesting location for turtles.

Pulau Bum Bum – Located just off the coast of Semporna (about 1km). Homestay-style chalet built over the ocean, with snorkeling and diving available.

Pulau Kulapuan – For snorkeling/diving day trips.

Pulau Timbun Mata – Large island west of Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Pulau Siamil – For snorkeling/diving day trips.

Pulau Boheyan – For snorkeling/diving day trips.

Pulau Timba-Timba – For snorkeling/diving day trips.

Tun Sakaran Marine Park

The following 8 islands and 2 reefs are located in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, about 20 minutes by boat from Pom Pom and Mataking, 30 minutes by boat from Semporna and 1.5 hours by boat from Mabul:

Pulau Bohey Dulang – Best known for the breathtaking views from the top of Bohey Dulang peak and the Giant Clams Marine Invertebrate Hatchery.

Pulau Bodgaya – Located right next to Pulau Bohey Dulang, most visitors to Bodgaya come to catch a glimpse of the Bajau Laut people, also known as ‘Sea Gypsies’.

Pulau Mantabuan – Smallest island in the marine park but has much to offer. From an amazing reef to friendly Sea Gypsies who inhabit the island, one is bound to fall in love with its beauty.

Pulau Sibuan – Small, sand cay that boasts crystal clear waters and regal coconut trees which line its white sandy beaches.

Pulau Maiga – Name itself conjures up images of a tropical paradise, and rightly so. This is where you can go to truly find an afternoon of peace and quiet outdoors.

Pulau Selakan – Most populated island in Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

Pulau Sebangkat – A mid-sized seaweed farm operates from the island, which is the nearest island to the mainland.

Pulau Tetagan – Small island connected to Pulau Bodgaya. Located just off the western coast of its bigger neighbour.

Kapikan Reef – Connected to Pulau Mantabuan and has stunning coral gardens making it an excellent destination for snorkeling and diving.

Church Reef – A shallow patch reef with no permanent island. Connected to Pulau Sibuan, it is known for its crystal clear waters and generally slight currents, which is great for water-based activities.