Mabul Island is reputed to be one of the best places for underwater macro-photography in the world. Located in the clear waters of the Celebes Sea off the mainland of Sabah, it is surrounded by gentle sloping reefs two to 40m deep.
Covering some 21 ha., it is considerably larger than the nearby Sipadan Island and is home to the Bajau Laut tribe, one of many ethnic groups in Sabah.
Diving is the main activity on this island, and it can be done all year round. Marine life that can be seen here includes sea horses, exotic starfish, fire gobies, crocodile fish, pipefish and snake eels. There are over eight popular dive spots, each with its own speciality.
Three resorts cater to scuba divers — two are on the island itself while one is on a converted oil rig platform about 500m offshore. All of the resorts provide day trips for their guests to the nearby Sipadan and Kapalai Islands.
To reach Mabul Island, it is a 30-minute boat ride from Semporna and 20 minutes from Sipadan Island.
Long before anyone donned scuba diving equipment and jumped into the water, Pulau Sipadan was already recognised as something special. Above the waterline the island is only 30 acres (12 hectares) in area and is covered by untouched rainforest. In 1933, this tiny island was declared a bird sanctuary and at the end of 2004 was closed to tourists.
As Sipadan is a protected area and a site of outstanding natural beauty, we urge you to behave responsibly when you visit, and make sure to control your buoyancy when diving. There is a National Park levy of US$ 13 per person per day entrance fee.
Mabul Island has historically played a supporting role its famous neighbour in Sabah, Sipadan Island. Since Mabul is considerably larger, and Pulau Sipadan is now protected from overnight stays, its profile has greatly increased and resort owners have been able to construct a much higher standard of accommodation, albeit within the constraints of a remote getaway.
The island is covered in palm trees and fringed with fine beaches. Villagers live next door to the resorts and guests are free to stroll around the island, mingling with the locals. From Mabul Island, guests are taken the 25 to 30 minutes to Sipadan every day for diving. In addition they can dive the macro-world of Mabul, normally once a day.
The islands enjoy an equatorial climate, so the temperature generally varies between 28 – 34°C during the day and drops to about 22°C during the warm evenings. The region is generally unaffected by the monsoon seasons which affect other places in this part of South East Asia, although sporadic heavy rains come down around December and January.
Being islands, Sipadan and Mabul have cooling sea breezes that make even the high humidity level of 85 – 95% quite pleasant.
Sightseeing and Adventure
Activities on Mabul Island often depend on which resort you choose to stay in. From the simple and inexpensive beach chalets to the more expensive and luxurious water bungalows built out over clear, shallow waters, in a style reminiscent of the Maldives. Activities can include Snorkelling, sea kayaking, beach volleyball, as well as relaxing in the pool or Jacuzzi.
Due to its rich ecological heritage, for years the ownership of Pulau Sipadan was regularly disputed between Indonesia and Malaysia. In 1998, the 2 countries went to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to resolve the matter. A decision was made in 2002 where the Court found in favour of Malaysia.
Sabah Malaysia is more popular for holiday destination for tourism around the world. Mabul Island is approximaitly near of Sipadan Island. As you know that Sipadan the almost the best Island in the world.
Mabul Island is a small 20 hectares oval shaped island, ringed with sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200 hectare reef. Lying 15 km to the north of Pulau Sipadan, only 15 minutes away by boat, 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. The real discovery is the diving around Mabul itself, home to the world’s best “muck diving”. “Muck diving” is an expression that was coined in PNG to describe the diving to be had under a liveboard boat while it is on safe anchor for the night. Usually a protected inlet somewhere, the water underneath the boat is shallow and the bottom is either silt, sand, dead coral or clumps of dirty coral on a silty bottom.
Mabul is arguably one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world. Discriminating divers wishing to explore Sipadan will enjoy the extra comfort offered by Smart Divers Resort, but whatever you do, make sure you allocate at least two full days to diving around Mabul itself. It’s the finest and most easily accessible “muck” in the world! . You’ll see frogfish the size of soccer balls in blue and black. Every species of pipefish known. Fire gobies, both purple and red. Mandarin fish, ghost pipefish, many species of shrimp, wild and exotic sea urchins, crabs which will blow you away and lobsters by the dozens. Mabul is nudibranch heaven and if this is your bag, you’ll see more species on Mabul than everywhere else you’ve been combined.