Mabul Island

If muck diving is what you’re into, that is to say if you like diving at shallow sites with limited visibility and sandy bottoms, then Mabul Island is the place for you. Check out more information at

What is it?

Mabul IslandMabul Island is a small oval shaped island, 5 -10 meters above sea level, off the coast of Borneo, in the Celebes Sea. It’s only 30 minutes away by boat from Semporna and 20 minutes from Sipadan Island. It is surrounded by sandy beaches, hovering over the northwest coast of a two square kilometer reef.

Brief history

In the 1970s, the island was used mostly for fishing and planting coconuts. By the 1990s, its diving potential was discovered. There are two main villages on Mabul, namely Kampung Mabul and Kampung Musu, with approximately 2000 inhabitants, more than half of them being children under the age of 14.

Sea life and muck diving

Mabul Island Dive SitesMabul Island is the place where muck diving was invented. Muck diving got its name from the residues that can be found in the majority of the diving spots: a muddy or “mucky” setting. Along the murky sediment, the typical muck site will have dead coral skeletons, discarded fishing equipment, tires and other man-made waste. You must remember that the visibility is frequently sub-par to the reef or wreck sites of the area.

Mabul Island is by far one of the best places to find exotic small marine life. You’ll run into colorful cephalopods, such as cuttlefish, various types of octopuses and bobtail squids. You’ll see endless species of crustaceans, like harlequin shrimp and boxer crabs. You can miss the many types of gobies like the spike-fin goby, black sail-fin goby and metallic shrimp goby. You’re also likely to bump into frogfish – the giant, painted and clown types. Moray eels and snake eels of many types can be found, as well as virtually the entire scorpion fish family, leaf scorpion fish, dwarf lionfish, crocodile fish. You will also encounter stonefish, stargazers, devil scorpion fish and flying gurnards. Want about seahorses, pygmy seahorses? They’re here too.

Mabul Island Package

Mabul IslandA full diving package usually includes transfer to and from the airport in Tawau, via Semporna. The Mabul package will also include the boat to the island and, of course the boat back to the mainland on the day of your departure. You will get all the meals, buffet style, with a choice of traditional delicious cuisine, as well as Western style cooking. The package will undoubtedly include the accommodation at the resort of your choice, and of course the main attraction of your trip, diving. You will generally have 3 boat dives per day in the various dive sites around Mabul and the neighboring islands.

So, if you are a macro photographer or just a newbie to muck diving, you will find your paradise in Mabul island. The calm and shallow waters await you with abundant opportunities, and you can capture on film the amazing creatures that hide in the muck.

For pricing and availability on all Mabul Island Resorts please visit


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