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Sipadan Options

Diving in Mabul

Macro Paradise

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...Highlights: great macro life/ marine diversity...
...Mabul's diving environment: beginner and advanced divers, very popular...

Most people who come to dive in the Sipadan area stay in a resort on nearby Mabul Island and their diving experience is a combination of the 2 islands - macro sites and critters, deep walls and big fish action.

Pulau Mabul (as it is known locally) is a small sandy island with coconut trees, a local fishing village, and of course dive resorts. It is only 25 minutes or so boat ride from Sipadan Island itself. It has long lived in the shadow of its famous neighbour but is now emerging as a dive destination in its own right. Show more

Dive Site Descriptions for Mabul

The Artificial Reef - Situated directly in front of SMART Resort on the south side of Mabul Island, the artificial reef is constructed from wooden frames, man-made structures in the shape of pyramids, crates and rockpiles. It attracts many different types of marine life. What looks at first sight to be only a bunch of boring old junk turns out to be a habitat for an astonishing array of creatures.

The most obvious are the large schools of juvenile barracuda and batfish patrolling along the reef and of course the incredible school of jacks which can wrap you in silver. The entire area can be somewhat of a maze as you wander from structure to structure. The sandy bottom houses ribbon eels and if you are lucky you may get to see a juvenile Harlequin sweetlips performing its strange jig. In some of the structures you might find juvenile Oriental sweetlips, colorful nudibranchs, frogfish and enormous groupers. Show more

How to Dive Mabul Island

Staying in a resort on the island means that on days when you are not diving Sipadan, you can concentrate on all the local sites around Mabul where the critters abound. There are several resorts on the island that should have something for everyone, from a budget resort to stilted bungalow luxury. Special local rates apply at many of these resorts for Malaysians, Singaporeans and expatriates living in those countries with work permits.

For more information on your diving options, and all the other travel information you might need to visit Mabul and the state of Sabah in Borneo, view our Mabul dive resorts. For those with only a day or 2 to spare, daytrips from Semporna may be your best option to dive at Mabul.

Mabul Island Diving Season

You can dive in Mabul year round with the best conditions occurring outside the rainy season which normally occurs between December and February. However, the weather and diving conditions are often very good at this time too.

Visibility is not amazing here even at the best of times, which is the dry season from March to September. However, since diving here is mostly about the macro life, the visibility doesn't have to be that great. The seas around the island remain calm most of the time although now and then surface waves will be present. Water temperatures also vary very little, usually hovering at between 27 and 29°C.

There is no best time to visit to see certain creatures as all the macro life seems to be present all year round, as does the enormous resident school of jacks at the island. So they will be all there when you get here, you just have to find them!

This is a very popular destination and some periods are so popular that you really should book long in advance. These periods include March to August, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. If you wish to travel at these times please let us know as soon as possible.

For more details on the climate of nearby Semporna, visit the Weather Spark websiteOpens in a new window.

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Where is Mabul and How Do I Get There?

Review our map below of Sabah state, showing the location of Mabul Island. Here, you will find information on how to get to Mabul.

Map of the Sipadan-Mabul-Kapalai region (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of Sabah (click to enlarge in a new window)

Reef Summary

Depth: 5 - 20m
Visibility: 5 - 15m
Currents: Gentle
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 27 - 29°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 12
Distance: 12 km (25 minutes) north from Sipadan and 5 km west of Kapalai
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 14 days

Useful References

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... Dive The World gave a comprehensive description of resort options. The descriptions were very good and these helped in making an informed choice. Staff is very responsive. Pricing favourable ... -- , Philippines.  [More customer reviews]