Mabul Island is a small island off the South-Eastern coast of Sabah in Malaysia. It is administered as a part of Semporna, Tawau district. It became popular in the 1990s due the proximity to the world renown Sipadan Island. Sipadan Island is located 15km away from Mabul Island, a 20-hectare piece of land surfaces 2 to 3 meters above sea level.
Kampung Mabul and Kampung Musu is the 2 main villages on the island with approximately 2000 villagers living in the island, half of which are children below the age of 14 years old. These residents are mainly Bajau Laut and Suluk Muslims who lives a nomadic lifestyle. The main transportation mode between places is via boat.
Mabul’s reef is on the edge of continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reed slopes out to a depth of 25 to 30m. The island is arguably one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world.
There are several dive resorts operating on Mabul island. 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 most of the scorpion fish family.
The are several resorts operating in Mabul island. Most of which are located on the island or on stilts over the water. Permits of Sipadan island is limited and is most of the time booked months in advance.