Located off the south-eastern coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, the tiny, palm-covered island of Mabul is one of the best muck-diving destinations in the world. The 20-hectare, almost flat, oval-shaped landmass lies 15km from Sipadan, Mabul Island is surrounded by soft white sands and clear waters infested with rich marine life.
Getting To Mabul Island
Most tourists take a flight from Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu to Tawau in Saba, travel by taxi to Semporna, and from there, take a boat to reach Mabul Island. The voyage from Semporna to Mabul Island takes 30 minutes by speed boat and 90 minutes by regular boat. Foreign travelers usually book an accommodation in Mabul Island before setting sails, in which case your hotel in Mabul arranges for your pick up from Tawau airport and transportation to the island.
Going Around Mabul Island
The Island is small enough to explore on foot. It takes 30 minutes to walk around its circumference. Naturally, there are no roads and no cars on the island. The only mode of conveyance (other than your legs) is by boat along the coastline, through the Celebes Sea.
Attractions and Activities
Diving is the most major attraction on the island. What makes Mabul Island especially fascinating for diving is a mindboggling variety of micro-creatures that swarm the waters along the coastline. Divers are awed by the unique topography of the seabed and the colorful marine life swimming casually around them. People can be captivated into stay submerged until their air tanks run empty. The Island has a few shallow sites for snorkeling as well.
Other than diving, there are numerous white-sand beaches to sprawl on, and a 2 square-kilometer reef to the north of the Island. The beaches are lined by groves of coconut palms, which thicken up as you move inland. The Island is home to a native population of some 2000 souls, half of whom are kids. The two rustic villages on the Island are reminiscent of a lifestyle totally dependent on fishing. There are no restaurants or bars in Mabul Island, and the only food or drinks served are by the resorts.
Where to Stay In Mabul Island
There are a number of overnight lodging options available, which range from affordable and comfortable to stupendous and luxurious in nomenclatures. Most of the resorts offer diving as the main activity. Some resorts and bungalows are nestled in thick palms while others are built on stilts over clear Celebes waters.