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.
There’s no airport in Semporna, so book your flight to Tawau instead and organise a pick-up from your tour operator for the hour-long drive to the jetty at Semporna.
How to get there
To reach Mabul Island, it is a 30-minute boat ride from Semporna and 20 minutes from Sipadan Island.
Mabul Island is home to three very different resorts, all up-market, and all catering to divers.