Perched on the edge of the Celebes Sea, Mabul Island is perfect for those keen to explore Sipadan’s incredible marine life, but also offers some amazing ‘muck’ diving in its own right. And if you are looking for that archetypal tropical holiday experience - sandy beaches, palm trees and unique villages - Mabul Island has all of that, and more!

MABUL & KAPALAI HIGHLIGHTS
  • Perfect base for exploring the local reefs and Sipadan’s amazing marine life
  • An incredible diversity of reef fish and critters
  • Search for frogfish, seahorses and flamboyant cuttlefish on the shallow sand patches
  • Dive artificial reefs with schooling fish and giant groupers
Muck Diving
Turtles
Beaches
All-round diving
Ideal For
SINGLES
COUPLES
FAMILIES
GROUPS
Diving at Mabul & Kapalai

Mabul and Kapalai's fringing reefs, coral bommies and sand patches provide the perfect habitat for an eclectic array of 'muck' critters, reef fish and more, making this area one of SE Asia's best all-round dive destinations.

Mabul and Kapalai can be summed up in one word - ‘muck’. The diving around Mabul and Kapalai is about diversity and interesting critters, rather than great visibility and big fish and although there are some interesting reefs, they are not a patch on those of Sipadan nearby. The mix of different habitats around Mabul and Kapalai means a great diversity of life and as a result, the islands have become well known amongst divers hunting for unusual species and ‘muck’ critters. However, the artificial reefs that have been built around Mabul and close to Kapalai have attracted a great deal of life - including giant groupers for those that need their big animal fix!

A typical dive on Mabul or Kapalai might mean hunting for leaf scorpionfish, frogfish, ribbon eels, different crustaceans and ghost pipefish. Blue ring octopus are also a prime target here. In the sheltered sandy bays can be found more sought after ‘muck’ critters including the elusive mimic octopus, Ambon scorpionfish, frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, sea horses and some unusual nudibranchs. Wherever you dive, you will encounter amazing numbers of reef fish, schooling snappers and goatfish, sting rays and gobies in the sand, anemones in the shallows with their resident ‘Nemos’ and shrimps, and - this being Sabah - passing turtles.

DIVING DETAILS
Type
Muck diving and reefs
Level
Beginner upwards
Diving Season
All year
Depth
5 - 35m
Visibility
5 - 25m
Temperature
26 - 29c
SPECIES
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Hawksbill turtle
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Rare Octopus
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Flambuoyant cuttlefish
Possible
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Clown frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Giant frogfish
Very Likely
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Cryptic Scorpionfish
Possible
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Mandarinfish
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Seahorse
Likely
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Pygmy seahorse
Possible
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Unique crabs & shrimps
Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Exotic Nudibranch
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Ghost pipefish
Likely
Snorkelling

Guests staying on Mabul have the opportunity to snorkel the incredible reefs of nearby Sipadan - they can apply for a permit just like a normal diver. The snorkelling on Sipadan is world-class, particularly for encounters with turtles, schools of fish, bumphead parrotfish and even reef sharks. And for many people, simply drifting over the corals with the currents is a highlight! 

Around Mabul and the nearby island of Kapalai, the reefs and marine life are not quite the same as on Sipadan, but are rewarding in the own right. There are some nice areas of reef on Kapalai especially and snorkelers can encounter plenty of reef fish, solitary great barracuda, cuttlefish, small schools of goatfish and fusiliers and passing turtles. The jetty area on Kapalai is probably the best location, as trevally, lion fish, batfish and needlefish can all be found schooling beneath the shelter of the wooden structure.

DIVING DETAILS
Diving Season
All year
Temperature
28 - 29C
SPECIES
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Green turtle
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Schooling Reef Fish
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Artificial reefs
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
Trevally
Very Likely
About Mabul & Kapalai

Mabul Island and the sand bar at Kapalai lie in relatively shallow waters close to the edge of the continental shelf, just under an hour from Semporna by boat. Mabul is your typical tropical island with shallow fringing reefs, beaches of sand and coral rubble, coconut palms and pandanan trees and several small villages. The island is also home to several dive resorts and a converted accommodation rig - Seaventures - anchored to the north.

Getting to Mabul

Mabul island is just an hour by boat from the nearby port of Semporna, and to make life even easier, all of the resorts have their own scheduled boat service to and from the resorts. Guests arriving from Kota Kinabalu to the nearest airport at Tawau can arrange transport with the resort or simply grab a taxi to Semporna.

Where to stay

The first resorts on Mabul and Kapalai were developed during the early days of Sipadan’s fame and planned as alternative accommodation for those wanting to dive on Sipadan. However, with the rise of ‘muck’ diving, it was soon discovered that the diving around Mabul and Kapalai were reason enough to come and stay.  Today, there is a great range of options for visitors - from budget style lodges, converted platforms and luxury resorts - and all have access to the fantastic diving on the local reefs, and at Sipadan.

Seasons & weather

The weather and seasons are typical of Sabah’s east coast. The islands can experience some rough and stormy weather during the wet season between November and March, especially January, and in August can also experience the effects of typhoons in the Philippines. The best times to visit are normally at the end of the wet season in April and May and the end of the dry season in September and October. However, weather conditions and seasons have become hard to predict in recent years and, this being a tropical area, it can rain at any time of year!

Dive conditions on Mabul and Kapalai are not as good as at Sipadan, but when you head is down in the corals hunting for critters, the visibility does not matter so much. Visibility averages 10-15m, and can drop to 5m when the weather and waves are bad or increase to 20-25m on a good day. Water temperatures are normally 26c-29c.

Conservation in Mabul & Kapalai

Mabul is home to a number of fantastic conservation projects, several of which have been set up directly by Scuba Junkie Mabul. The company was responsible for setting up Mabul’s Turtle Hatchery project that aims to conserve the area’s populations of green and hawksbill turtles, as well as Shark Awareness, Education, Survive - or SEAS - which raises awareness of the threats to shark populations in Sabah.

Guests also have the opportunity to join in regular activities such as reef cleanup dives or ‘Dives Against Debris’, beach cleanups and activity weeks such as ‘Shark Week’ and ‘Turtle Week’. Guests booked in during these weeks can attend talks by scientists and local conservation professionals, undergo training for speciality qualifications and even assist at the turtle hatchery. They are also great ways to meet the people of Mabul, as all of the events are set up in collaboration with the local villagers and with ‘Green Semporna’ a local conservation NGO.

Inspirational Resorts - Chosen by ZuBlu
FEATURED RESORT
$ $
Mabul & Kapalai, Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia

Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Scuba Junkie is without doubt the leading sustainable dive company in Malaysia, one that continues to develop and support conservation programmes in Sabah and beyond, whilst at the same time offering an amazing holiday experience. The resort is the perfect base to dive Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai, ge...

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ALL RESORTS IN MABUL & KAPALAI
Tailored for you
FEATURED PACKAGES

The 8 day, 7 night package gives you 2 full days diving at Sipadan and to make the most of these days, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort

Ultimate Sipadan

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Make the most of your trip to Sabah and dive Sipadan for 2 full days

Duration
8 Days
7 Nights
Starts At US$1520
Diving
More options
STANDARD PACKAGES

Dive Sipadan on a Budget

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

On a budget but want to dive Sipadan? Come and stay in Scuba Junkie's comfortable dorm rooms

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$715

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum stay required to guarantee a permit to dive Sipadan. To make the most of your day at Sipadan, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. This package includes accomodation in Scuba Junkie's comfortable fan-cooled dorm.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Shared 8-bed dorm room, with ensuite bathrooms
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort


Diving

Snorkel the Celebes Sea

at Scuba Junkie Sipadan

Snorkel the beautiful reefs of Mabul, Kapalai and beyond

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$270

Snorkel the amazing reefs of Mabul and Kapalai with Scuba Junkie, Malaysia's leading sustainable dive company. This snorkeling package includes two boat trips, unlimited snorkeling around Mabul and well-maintained mask, snorkel and fins. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 2 boat trips to other islands
  • Unlimited snorkelling around Mabul
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort


Snorkeling

Explore Sipadan with the Scuba Junkies - Malaysia's leading sustainable dive company

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$755

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum stay required to guarantee a permit to dive Sipadan. To make the most of your day at Sipadan, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Make the most of your trip to Sabah and dive Sipadan for 2 full days

Duration
8 Days
7 Nights
Starts At US$1520

The 8 day, 7 night package gives you 2 full days diving at Sipadan and to make the most of these days, Scuba Junkie schedules 4 dives on an extended day trip. And with only 4 guests per dive guide, you can enjoy the turtles, schooling fish and sharks without the crowds. Guests can choose from ensuite fan, AC or VIP rooms.

  • 4 divers to every guide
  • Full equipment rental
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation at Mabul Beach Resort
  • GST at 6%
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Semporna jetty fee RM10
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Night dives
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna
  • High season supplement, single occupancy supplement
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Explore Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai - Malaysia's finest diving

Duration
4 Days
3 Nights
Starts At US$865

The 4 day, 3 night package is the minimum length of stay required to guarantee a diving permit for Sipadan, and is the perfect duration for guests that want a taste of the extraordinary diving Sabah has to offer. Guests can choose from twin or double cabins, all of which are perfect for a relaxing nights sleep after a long day spent diving. All of Seaventures' cabins have AC, fresh bedding and towels, cleaning service and ensuite bathrooms with hot water.

  • 3 boat dives per day
  • Unlimited diving on house reef beneath the rig, including night dives
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation in standard room
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna if traveling alone or outside of scheduled transfer times
  • Equipment rental
  • Single occupancy supplement
  • GST at 6%
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving

Book 6 days, 5 nights onboard Seaventures Dive Rig and you are guaranteed 2 full days diving at Sipadan

Duration
6 Days
5 Nights
Starts At US$1250

The 6 day, 5 night package offers 2 full days diving at Sipadan, and 3 days exploring the incredible muck diving on offer around Mabul and Kapalai. Guests can choose from twin or double cabins, all of which are perfect for a relaxing nights sleep after a long day spent diving. All of Seaventures' cabins have AC, fresh bedding and towels, cleaning service and ensuite bathrooms with hot water.

  • 3 boat dives per day
  • Unlimited diving on house reef beneath the rig, including night dives
  • Transfer to and from Mabul at specified times
  • Meals, tea, coffee and water
  • Twin share accommodation in standard room
  • Sipadan permit fee RM40 per day
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks at resort bar
  • Airport transfers to and from Semporna if traveling alone or outside of scheduled transfer times
  • Equipment rental
  • Single occupancy supplement
  • GST at 6%
  • Tourism Tax of RM10 per night, payable at the resort
Diving