Mabul is a small island off the south-eastern coast of Sabah in Malaysia. The island has been a fishing village since the 1970s. Then in the 1990s, it first became popular to divers due to its proximity to Sipadan island.
Located 15 km from Sipadan, this 20-hectare piece of land surfaces 2–3 meters above sea level, consists mostly flat grounds and aerial view is oval-shaped. Surrounding it are sandy beaches, perched on the northwest corner of a larger two square kilometre reef.
Mabul is arguably one of the richest 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.
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 regularly seen along with almost the whole scorpion fish family.
Best time to visit
Mabul is located in Sabah, East Malaysia, where the climate is hot and humid throughout the year. The average temperature during the day is 32°C and 27°C during the night. Sabah is visited all year round – it is not affected by typhoons and hence, is known as the “Land Beneath The Winds”. The wet or rainy season in most of Sabah is from November to April, but rain remains a possibility all year round, which may affect activities including kayaking, snorkeling and diving. The rest of the year (May to October) is considered the dry season and hence, the best time to visit Mabul.
Flights to Tawau Airport, the nearest airport to Mabul, from Kota Kinabalu take 55 minutes. From Kuala Lumpur it takes 2 and a half hours to get to Tawau, you then need to take a bus, taxi or minivan from Tawau airport to Semporna and from the jetty take a boat organised by your dive operators or resort to the Island.
RM95 per airport taxi from Tawau Airport to Semporna jetty. Duration: ±75 minutes.
If you are travelling in a group, this may be the best option as the taxi fare may be shared between group members.
Boats to Mabul and neighbouring islands are organized by dive operators/resorts. Duration: ±45 minutes.
Visitors who will not be staying in Mabul may tour the island by joining snorkeling/diving day trips organized by dive operators/resorts in Semporna town.
Minivans may also be found outside Tawau Airport. Minivans have a more flexible schedule, usually operating between 6.00am and 5.30pm.
Take note that most minivans depart only after all seats are filled up and minivans outside Tawau Airport may head to Tawau town first before continuing on to Semporna.