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Asia > Southeast Asia > Malaysia > Sabah > Mabul
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One of the many nudibranchs in the waters around Mabul Island

Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul in Malay) is a small island off the south-east coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The island is known as one of the best muck diving destinations in the world.

Understand

The island is covered in palm trees and fringed with fine beaches. It is a famous diving spot for divers, both international and local alike, and is well known as the macro diving paradise.

It is located near Pulau Sipadan.

Get in

Make your way to Semporna, then take a boat from there. The journey takes about 30 minutes by speed boat, 1.5 hours by slow boat. Resorts and lodges provide boat transfers for their guests. Visitors can also come in on day tours by joining a dive trip organized by one of the dive operators in Semporna.

Get around

Mabul is small enough to be explored entirely on foot. There are no roads or cars. Boats take visitors to various diving and snorkeling sites around the island.

See

Mabul possesses beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut palm trees. However, the indiscriminate throwing of litter by the local fishermen does much to detract from this beauty, particularly on the island's west side.

Do

Scuba diving - While its famous neighbour Sipadan is a home to large pelagic species, Mabul is the place to find the smaller macro species. Scorpionfishes, frogfishes, nudibranchs, crocodilefishes, various crustaceans and many other interesting and rare forms of marine life can be found here. Most dive sites are quite shallow - 12-18 m - with a maximum depth of around 30 m in a few places. Visibility is around 5-8 m at the real muck sites like Froggy Lair, Paradise Reef, and Seaventure Platform, reaching around 15 m at the seaward site Lobster Wall. Turtles can also be seen in places, although by far not as many as at Sipadan.

NOTE: Most of the dive shops, if not all of them, are operated by the home stay and resorts. They don't like divers to live but dive with other operators. They may not allow you to dive with them if you're not staying with them.

Snorkeling - A few sites close to shore are suitable for snorkeling, primarily around Paradise Reef as well as Lobster Wall.

Buy

Besides small shops in resorts and lodges there are no shops on the island.

Eat

There are no restaurants, but resorts and lodges provide their guests all meals.

Drink

Resorts and lodges provide drinks to their guests. Other than that there are no choices on Mabul.

Sleep

There are several resorts in the island.

Budget

  • My Scuba Diver A homestay with diving facility. Diving package available. PADI course available in English, Japanese, Chinese and Malay. Phone: +60 128662397 Email: myscubadiver@gmail.com
  • Billabong Scuba, +60 89-781866. Is a backpackers lodge with diving facility/Sipadan permit. Accommodation range from RM 70 RM. 120.00 with all meal during stay. Sipadan permit available. English, French, Chinese guides on site. Aircon room/attached bathroom/basic room available. Diving package from RM. 300 to 1600.
  • Noble Inworld Diving. A homestay and dive resort is which offers clean and basic accommodations on Mabul, diving and high instructor to student ratios. Price for homestay is 60 RM a night with all meals included and diving is 250 RM for 3 fun dives on Mabul.
  • Mabul Backpackers, +60 89782334. Check-in: anytime, check-out: 12 pm. Newly built longhouse accommodation on Mabul. Also has a PADI dive center. Rm70 including all meals.
  • Uncle Chang's Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge (book at Uncle Chang's office right on the causeway in Semporna next to the Dragon Inn or at the second office near the dive shops at Semporna town, and get your transfer to the island arranged). RM80 per person per night including all meals.
  • Big John Scuba, +60 142843723. Nice homestay and diveschool with friendly staff. person/night RM70.
  • Summer Friends Homestay. Is an accommodation with diving, snorkeling and hiking packages at Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai and Bohey Dulang. Accommodation rate is at RM70 per pax per night with meals and snacks.

Mid-range

Causeway Road near Semporna Ocean Tourism Centre), +60 89 919128, +60 89 781788, . Air-conditioned chalets.

Splurge

Go next

Take a boat back to Semporna.

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