Mabul, located 15 kilometers from Semporna on south-eastern coast of Sabah in Malaysia has been a fishing village since the 1970s. But in the 1990s became a popular place for divers due to its proximity to Sipadan Island. 20-hectare piece of land surfaces 2–3 meters above sea level.
There are two villages on the island called Kampung Mabul and Kampung Musu. It was recorded that there are approximately 2000 villagers living in Mabul, half of them are children. A lot of them are immigrants from nearby clusters of islands of the southern Philippines. They are mainly Suluk Muslims and Bajau Laut – people sometimes called sea gypsies, who live a nomadic lifestyle. There are usually fishermen, they catch mostly squid and fish. Traditional fishing methods are called “Payau” and “Sangkaliya”. They prefer to fish close to the Malaysia-Philippines borders. An average fishing trip takes 3–5 days.
There are few resorts, mostly located on the island or on stilts over the water. One hotel is on a converted oil platform about 500 meters from the beach. Prices are very high, but you can also find something cheaper, for example Uncle Chang. Accommodation there is in small huts built on the water, it includes 3 meals per day. The biggest chunk of the cost is Sipadan diving. Be warned that there is a permit system for Sipadan and all permits may be booked months in advance. Alternatively, you can count on the fact that someone will give up their dives and you will take over such permit, however a lot of luck is needed. The more expensive and larger resorts have more permits, so maybe one could try getting permit from them.
On Mabul one can find one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world (e.g. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus, bobtail squids, spike-fin goby, black sail-fin goby, metallic shrimp goby and frogfish among many others). Mabul is a macro diver’s paradise. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25 to 30 m deep.
Great diving spots around Mabul island: Froggie’s Lair, Artificial Reef, Seaventure, Tino’s Paradise.
More about diving in the next post :)
Mabul and Sipadan accommodation
Pom Pom Island Resort – www.pompomisland.com ♦ luxury
Scuba Jeff Sipadan – www.scubajeffsipadan.com
SDC Mabul – www.sdclodges.com ♥ quite cheap
Scuba Junkie Mabul Beach Resort – www.scuba-junkie.com ♣ often recommended
Seahorse Sipadan Scuba – www.seahorse-sipadanscuba.org ♥ cheap
Sipadan Adventures Arung Hayat – www.facebook.com/SipadanAdventures
Sipadan-Kapalai – www.sipadan-kapalai.com ♦ luxury
Sipadan-Mabul Resort – www.sipadanmabulresort.com ♦ luxury
Sipadan Water Village Resort – www.sipadanrestor.com ♦ luxury
Tun Sakaran Marine Park – www.facebook.com
Uncle Chang Bungalow – www.ucsipadan.com ♥ cheap