Last Updated on Saturday, 31 August, 2019 11:23:10 PM

ISLANDS OF BORNEO > Sabah Islands > Mabul Island


Mabul Island
Sabah, Malaysia




There are two categories accommodation on Mabul Island.
The luxury resorts and the budget Lodges.

Most lodges and all resorts have a Dive Center providing all level of diving packages to guests. All accommodation includes three meals.


(A) There are 6 resorts on Mabul Island :

1 - Sipadan Water Village Resort (on water)
Managed by Sipadan Water Village Resort Sdn Bhd

2 - Sipadan Mabul Resort - SMART (on land)
Managed by Explore Asia Tours Sdn. Bhd. Sister Company of Sipadan-Mabul Resort (Sabah) Sdn Bhd
Please be informed that we are not in anyway related or linked to and, nor did we authorized the site to publish our information.

3 - Mabul Water Bungalow Resort (on water)
Managed by Explore Asia Tours Sdn Bhd. Sister Company of Sipadan-Mabul Resort (Sabah) Sdn Bhd
Please be informed that we are not in anyway related or linked to and, nor did we authorized the site to publish our information.
The official website for Mabul Water Bungalow is

4 - Borneo Diver Resort (on land)
 Managed by Borneo Divers And Sea Sports (Sabah) Sdn. Bhd.

5 - Seaventures Dive Rig (on sea)
 Managed by Seaventures Dive Rig

6 - Mabul Beach Resort of Scuba Junkie (on land)
 Managed by Scuba Junkie


(B) and 8 Budget Lodges with Dive Centers on Mabul Island :

1 - Uncle Chang's Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge (on water)
       Managed by Borneo Jungle River Island Tours Sdn. Bhd

2 - Sipadan Dive Centre Mabul (on land)
       Managed by Sipadan Dive Centre Mabul

3 - Mabul Backpackers ( (water)
       Managed by

4- BIG JOHN Scuba
      Managed by Big John Scuba

6- BillabongScuba
      Managed by B.S.D.S Sea&Sport

7- Spheredivers Scuba & Leisure
      Managed by Spheredivers Scuba & Leisure Sdn Bhd

8- Mabul Paradise Lodge 馬布島天堂度假村
     Managed by David Shaw


(C) and 2 Homestays on Mabul Island with NO  Dive Center :

1- Arung Hayat Homestay
 Managed by Arung Hayat Semporna Lodge

2- Summer Friends Homestay for local visitors
 Maaaged by Mr Yong and wife Sandra

3- ScubaJeff for local visitors
      Managed by Scuba Jeff Sipadan Sdn Bhd






Sabah Parks is the authority to issue dive permit to Pulau Sipadan Island

A single permit would allow an individual to visit or snorkel at Sipadan Island for a single day only.

Sabah Parks issues only 120 permits a day, which is divided among different diving resorts. The division of the permits is based on the size of the resorts. It is the resort’s duty to succumb the name and other information of a guest to Sabah Parks for the issuance of a license. However, not every visitor lodging at a resort gets a permit.

Diving Resorts

Number of Permits to dive in Sipidan

Borneo Divers Mabul Resort 14 permits
Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort 14 permits
Sipadan Water Village Resort 14 permits
Sipadan-Mabul resort 14 permits
Sipadan Liveaboard 13 permits
Sea ventures Dive Resort 11 permits
The Reef Dive Resort 7 permits
Roach Reefs Resort 6 permits




Spheredivers Scuba

Mabul Backpackers (

Arung Hayat Homestay



Summer Friends Homestay


1- Sipadan Dive Cente
2- Uncle Chang's Lodge
3- Sphere Divers
4- Summer Friends
5- My Scuba Diver
6- Sipadan Mabul Lodge
7- Scuba Jeff
8- Big John Scuba
9- Arung Hayat
10- Billabong
11- Seahorse Sipadan
12- Panglima

Kampong Musu



In 2004, in protecting the eco-system and environment of Sipidan Island, the government moved all resorts and dive centers away from Sipitan Island to Mabul Island.

Today there is no more resort on Sipadan Island, and Mabul has become the residential area of Sipidan where divers and tourists stay.

Mabul Island is not too far out into the ocean. Mabul is within easy reaching distances.

From Semporna Town, It's a mere 50 minute boat ride away.
From Tawau Airport to Semporna Town, it's a 50 Minute car ride from the airport.

To reach the final destination of Sipidan Ialand, speed boats are used. Boat rides from Mabul to Sipadan  takes 30 minutes.  

Kapalai Island is also another popular  island near to Mabul which takes only 20 minutes...

All these diving islands in the  Celebes Sea have no roads, no motorbikes or cars to live on. All these islands are small enough for one to walk one round in 30 minutes.

The simplicity of life here make many feel paradise away from material contamination. Paradise the Hippies of those years seeking for.

Is it difficult to go to Mabul Island, Sempona and Tawau Town?

It is easy to go to Mabul Island. The island resort will pick up their hotel guests directly from Tawau Airport and arrange whole transport all the way to the Island. But during booking, the guests must clearly indicate that transport is needed.

It is also easy to go to Semporna Town and Tawau Town. Texi service is available at Tawau airport. Take notice that there is no public bus service available at the Tawau Airport like those in KK and KL Airport. You can specify transport needed during hotel booking to pick you up at airport.  Most hotels provide airport pickup at a small charges.


If you are driving your car so you only need the sea transport from Semporna Town to Mabul Island.  All Mabul resorts have their own boats. You only need to shown up at the jetty during departure time.

You only have to settle your car parking during the few days away on the island.  Only Seafest Hotel has a private hotel car park. Else, other hotels the cars are parked beside the hotels at the road side.


Watch how this awesome Malaysian girl rescues a sinking canoe:

There's not much information about this video, except that it was filmed in Mabul, a small island off the coast of Sabah in Malaysia that has approximately 2,000 inhabitants. The girl is Bajau Laut, an indigenous ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They've been called "sea gypsies" - a term that refers to their nomadic, seafaring history.

July 25, 2014, Friday
Social Care Foundation gives RM20,000 to widow of marine policeman.

Salamah Ahmad, the widow of marine police Corporal Abdul Rajah Jamuan who was killed at the recent Mabul island ambush, received RM20,000 aid from the Social Care Foundation.

On July 12, Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed in an exchange of fire with eight gunmen from Southern Philippines, at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort on Pulau Mabul.

His colleague, Zakiah Aleip, 26, was kidnapped.

Read more:





JULY 12, 2014 Saturday
Cop killed, another kidnapped after shootout in Mabul Island (VIDEO)

Tuesday July 15, 2014 Mabul Island: No longer the safest area in Sabah's east coast

Mabul island has been touted as the safest area in the east coast of Sabah to holiday. Now, the myth has been shattered.

Sunday JUL 13, 2014  Mabul island shootout possibly a 'revenge' attack, say Sabah authorities

The Sabah Eastern Security Command (Esscom) is not discounting the possibility that the shootout on Mabul island was in retaliation to security forces having intensified enforcement in Sabah's eastern waters, said Esscom commander DCP Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun on Sunday.

Tourists are being urged to avoid several islands off the coast of Malaysia after heavily armed gunmen stormed a dive resort, killing a policeman and kidnapping another. 

The raid at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort in 2014 on Mabul, off the east coast of Sabah, was the latest in a string of attacks in the region.

The recent attack on Mabul island is driving another nail into Sabah’s diving sector, as well as Sabah tourism industry’s progress. In a statement yesterday, MATTA vice-president K.L. Tan said Sabah tourism continued to suffer adverse impacts since the MH370 saga in March, 2014. This, along with the kidnappings over the past few months, had put a dent on Sabah’s tourism.

 The pathway around the island cuts through a local Bajau village with a traditional lifestyle entirely dependent on the sea.

The population of Mabul Island is a majority of immigrants from southern Philippines. They are mainly Bajau Laut and Suluk Muslims who live a nomadic lifestyle of as sea gypsies.

More about the Bajau village in Mabul Island


Mabul is a small 20 hectares oval shaped island, ringed with sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200 hectare reef.

The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25m-30m deep.

The island has a resident fishing community and is covered in coconut plantations. This unusual setting makes for some interesting scuba diving.

Through small and mostly bottom dwellers, many of  Mabul's sea creatures are unique, stunningly colorful, often rare and sometimes bizarre. The astonishing thing is that most of these creatures can be found on the house reef right in front of the resort.

Mabul’s popularity has ensured a variety of accommodation options, all with different levels of comfort and each taking advantage of the idyllic setting in its own way.

Most resorts assist with your transport from the airport in Tawau and boat transfers from Semporna. Be sure to book well in advance.

“Now everyone can stay at Mabul Island” — is a slogan by one locally run backpacker lodge Uncle Chang's Lodge

The Police Station

The Police Station

The police station is behind Sipadan Dive Centre Mabul.

The Malaysian Marine Field Police Force the Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Airforce are patrolling the entire east coast of Sabah 24 hours a day.

Security emphasis on the islands with resorts in the Semporna and Sipadan region including Mabul Island.

Package Tour available for Mabul Island :

Tawau & Mabul/Sipadan Island 2 Days 1 Night Tour

Hotel : Hotel Emas, Tawau      Room Type : Delux Room

Package Price for non diver : Rm 339 (Twin Sharing)   Rm 389 (Single Room)

Extension of stay : Rm 100 per room per night.

Package inclusive of :

1) Transportation between Tawau airport, Emas hotel, Sempoma Town and Mabul Island
2) One night of hotel accommodation in Emas Hotal
3) Two local lunch
4) Snorkeling equipment

Remarks :

1) Minimum 8 persons to travel. Surcharge of RM50 applied otherwise.
2) Option for Sipadan trips will incur a surcharge of RM150 per person (non-divers) or RM310 per person (divers), subject to availability of permits

For Enquiries & Reservation, please contact:

Hotel Emas Sdn Bhd.
TB2103. North Road.
91000 Tawau. Sabah, Malaysia.

Tel +6089762000 Fax +6089 774626
Web    E-mail
Ms. Ivy Yap +6016 826 9579     Ms. Kathy Urn +6016 826 9581

Half an hour from the coast of Semporna Town, Mabul is a small, oval shaped island covered in tall palm trees, fringed with soft white sand and surrounded by the turquoise water of the Celebes Sea. Visitor can easily walk around the island in half an hour.

Most visitors set foot here have only one thing in mind and that is scuba diving. Mabul has not only become famous for its proximity to Sipadan, but also has a reputation as one of the best “muck” diving sites there is.

The abundance of large underwater animals and the unique topography in Sipadan offers an adrenalin-filled diving experience, and as there are no accommodation facilities permitted on Sipadan, many divers choose Mabul as their base to explore it. Mabul, however, offers something entirely different, yet equally fascinating. The fairly shallow waters and low visibility, has earned it the muck diving label, but it is the abundance of tiny, exotic creatures that brings divers, armed with macro lens cameras, down here time and time again.

Mabul Island is located in the Celebes Sea, off the coast of Borneo reachable  within half an hour by speedboat from the closest town on the mainland, Semporna.

Speedboats to Mabul depart from Semporna, a small fishing town on Malaysian Borneo, and trips there and back are arranged by the resorts. The boat trip takes around 20-30 minutes. Diving trips to Mabul are also arranged by the dive resort on nearby Kapalai island.

The closest airport to Semporna is in Tawau, approximately 1 hour away. Your resort usually arrange for transport (usually by air-conditioned minivan) from the airport to Semporna.

As there are no boats to the islands after nightfall, you may need to overnight in Semporna after flying in to Tawau. The Seafest Hotel and the Dragon Inn are popular choices as they are within meters of the Speedboat departure point.

Air Asia has several flights daily to Tawau from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines has daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan and several flights daily from Kota Kinabalu. From any international destination, book your return flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, from where you can get the abovementioned connecting flights to Tawau.

Mabul Island recently had become a popular destination for both divers and photographers from around the world.

Mabul Island first became popular due to its close proximity to Sipadan Island. In the last few years it has gained its own recognition as one of the best "muck-diving" sites in the world. Mabul Island is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200-hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25m-30m deep. There are several Dive resorts operating on Mabul Island.

Mabul is arguably one of the riches single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus and bobtail squids are just a few of the numerous types of cephalopods to be found on Mabul's reef. The sight of harlequin shrimp feeding on sea stars and boxer crabs waving their tiny anemone pom-poms are just a small example of the endless species of crustaceans. Many types of gobies can be found including the spike-fin goby, black sail-fin goby and metallic shrimp goby. Frogfish are everywhere - giant, painted and clown frogfish are all regularly seen. Moray eels and snake eels of many types can be seen along with almost the whole scorpion fish family. It would be quicker to list the species not found at Mabul - crazy critters are in abundance at thiis magical macro site!

Mabul is located southeast of Semporna on the east coast of Sabah, 15 km to the north of Pulau Sipadan 15 minutes by speedboats. Though physically close to Sipadan, the diving at Mabul is completely different. Mabul's forte lies in the tiny rare creatures that can be found in the sand, rubble and fringing coral reef near the island. Mabul is popular for its 'muck dives' (Muck Diving).  If fantastic colorful creatures and Macro Photography are your style, you'll love Mabul.

How to get to Mabul Island :

Getting to Mabul requires a little planning. Visitors to the island have to travel to Semporna Town 1 hour drive from Tawau international airport. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Air Asia have daily flights to Tawau. From Semporna, it is a mere 35 minute speed boat ride to the resort.

Travel Time between Tawau Town and Semporna Town by van is 1.5 hours.

From Semporna Town to Mabul Island by speed boat is 45 minutes.

Recommended AirAsia flight schedule are :

Kuala Lumpur to Tawau : Flight AK5152  Depart: 0720   Arriving: 1005
Tawau to Kuala Lumpur : Flight AK5157  Depart: 2110   Arriving: 2355

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