Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul)

Accommodation on Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul)

It is Sipadan Island that makes what Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul) is today. Ever since Sipadan becomes a world-class dive site, divers from all over the world flood Mabul, which is only 30 minutes (15 Kilometres) away from Sipadan by boat ride.

Mabul Island
Sipadan doesn’t have any accommodation on the island. To dive in Sipadan, divers and tourists can stay on Kapalai Island or Mabul Island nearby. Another reason is – Semporna is a small town (on mainland) that has no night life, and it takes more than an hour to reach Sipadan from there, very inconvenient for divers who plan to spend a few days diving in Sipadan and other islands of Semporna.

map of Semporna islands
Mabul has become an “island of accommodation” as it has over 10 lodges and resorts, with room rates range from RM65 to RM1,000+ (≈USD20 – 300+) per night. Whether you are backpackers looking for cheap hostel, or honeymooners who want perfect vacation, Mabul has the ideal place for you. You may check out the list of accommodations on this page.

water village of Pulau Mabul
Pic: water village of Mabul Island

*Note: The prices are for your quick reference only. They may or may not include dive package, meals, land / boat transport, dive permit, etc., and the rates can be higher in peak season. Please check with the individual accommodation for detail and latest info.

Recommended Accommodations

I recommend the following accommodation based on my experience and feedback from others. Just a sharing of my personal view.

Tour package to Semporna

Budget: Uncle Chang Backpackers Lodge

Uncle Chang is a very friendly and sociable dude who likes to hang around with his guests for a smoke or beer in his lodge. He always wants his guests to feel at home. Sometimes I wonder if he opens this lodge just to party with guests.

water chalets of Uncle Chang Backpackers Lodge
Pic: Uncle Chang Backpackers Lodge

Anyway, his face and pony tail has become the trademark logo of the lodge. The lodge provides clean and comfortable basic accommodation. You can pay extra to get an air-conditioned room or chalet. At night, I like to sit on the boardwalk, to see turtles, baby sharks, cuttlefish and other seafood marine animals foraging under my feet (while the rest drank and sang Karaoke through the night).

BBQ dinner at Uncle Chang Backpackers Lodge
Pic: BBQ seafood dinner at the lodge

Yes, you can arrange a diving trip to Sipadan with them. Same as Uncle Chang, the staffs are also very friendly and accommodating.

Happy guests of Uncle Chang Backpackers Lodge
Pic: staffs and guests saying goodbye

Room Rate*: RM70 (Dormitory Room) – RM140 (Chalet) (≈USD21 – 42)
Facebook: Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge
Tel: +60 17-8950002, +60 89-786988
Office Address: P.O.Box 37, 91307 Causeway Road, S.O.T.C. Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

Mid-Range: Borneo Divers Mabul Resort (BDMR)

If you want something better than budget lodge but not too high-end and pricey, Borneo Divers Mabul Resort (BDMR) might be the one for you. BDMR is established since 1984 and run by 5-star PADI dive operator, so I’m confident about their quality of service.

chalet of Borneo Divers Mabul Resort (BDMR)
Their 30+ units of chalet (with attached bathroom and hot shower) are air-conditioned and constructed of hardwood in a local style. When I was inside, the feel is like a standard hotel room, though not luxurious, it’s cozy.

sundeck at jetty of Borneo Divers Mabul Resort
Pic: sundeck at the jetty

swimming pool of Borneo Divers Mabul Resort (BDMR)
Pic: swimming pool of BDMR, also a spot to conduct open water diver course.

BDMR is probably the accommodation with the most complete amenities on Mabul. From Wifi, dining hall, event hall, restaurant, mini bar, dive station, small shop to swimming pool, basically it is a 3-star hotel on island, except that it has no parking lot for cars, lol. If you want to host a function with over 100 people on Mabul, I can’t think of other places better than BDMR.

BBQ party at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort (BDMR)
The food there is buffet style and great in variety (western and local food). The 1st night I had steamed boat and 2nd night a BBQ beach party. I gained some weight after the stay. During meal time, the resort is like an United Nations, as there are tourists from Europe, America and Asia. And we played some games together in the party. I felt great to be there, really.

Room Rate*: (Online Booking available) RM1,440 (≈USD400) for 3-day non-dive package
Facebook: Borneo Divers Mabul Resort
Tel: +60 88-222226, +60 88-221340
Office Address: 9th Floor, Menara Jubili, 53 Jalan Gaya, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

High-End: Sipadan Water Village Resort (SWV)

This classy resort is built over water on strong ironwood stilts and extends a few hundred Metres to the sea. To me, it looks like a floating palace on Mabul Island. Their 45 water bungalows are designed beautifully in Bajau architectural style and come with private sundeck.

Sipadan Water Village Resort
You will be impressed to see their layout in Google map later, the resort is so huge that it looks like an island by itself, equipped with 5-star dive centre, dining hall, bar lounge, SPA area, etc.

corals near Sipadan Water Village Resort
To be honest, I never stay there before so I don’t have much to write here. As it earns TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2013, it won’t be a wrong choice to spend your honeymoon on Sipadan Water Village Resort. I’ll feel like a king if I were there.

Room Rate*: RM3,800 (≈USD1,150) for 4 day 3 night
Tel: +60 089-751777 (Kota Kinabalu), +60 89-950023 (Tawau), +60 89-784100 (Semporna), +60 89-792231 (Mabul)
Office Address: TB231, Lot 8, 1st Floor, Town Extension II (Wisma MAA Building), 91000 Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia.

The following is an useful Infographics for divers to make better choice on accommodation (created by Asia Diving Vacation):
Infographics: Best Resort for your Sipadan Stay

Other Accommodations

There are many other nice accommodation on Mabul too, and they could be better choice for you than my recommendation.

Seaventures Rig Dive Resort

It is hard not to notice this resort on the sea horizon 0.7 KM away from Mabul island, and that’s why they are on the list of unique hotels by TripAdvisor. This PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort is a re-purposed oil rig and now complete with dive centre, game room, conference lounge, bar, etc. From their photos, I thought they built a space station on the sea.

Seaventures Rig Dive Resort
Room Rate*: Start from RM2,730 (≈USD827) for 4 day 3 night dive package
Facebook: Seaventures Dive Resort
Tel: +60 88-261669, +60 88-251 669
Office Address: G23B, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah, Jalan Tun Razak, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART)

Owned by Explore Asia Tours Sdn. Bhd., Sipadan Mabul Resort has 45 wooden duplex chalets near the beach.

Sipadan Mabul Resort
See the lush coconut trees? These are planted by the resort over the years, now the trees add a very nice touch to the tropical ambiance of this resort.

Room Rate*: Package starts from USD401 (2 day 1 night)
Facebook: SipadanMabulResortSMART
Tel: +60 88-486389
Office Address: Lot A-1-G, Block A, Signature Office, KK Times Square, Off Coastal Highway, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Mabul Water Bungalow (SMART)

Another floating resort beside Sipadan Water Village Resort, with 15 units of wooden-type bungalows built on stilts. This resort also wins Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2013.

Room Rate*: Start from RM2,000 (≈USD606) for 2 day 1 night non-diver package (Twin Share)
Facebook: Mabul Water Bungalow (SMART)
Tel: +60 88-486389
Office Address: Lot A-1-G, Block A, Signature Office, KK Times Square, Off Coastal Highway, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Scuba Jeff Guest House

A budget lodge run by a friendly diver named Jeff, who wants to share the beauty of Mabul by offering affordable stay to tourists.

Scuba Jeff Guest House
Room Rate*: Start from RM65 (≈USD20) per night
Facebook: Scuba Jeff Mabul
Tel: +60 19-5355229, +60 17-8614391
Office Address: 1st Floor, Lot 18, Block C, Semporna Seafront New TownShip, 91308 Semporna Sabah Malaysia

Big John Scuba

A lodge with 8 basic rooms with twin/double beds, attached bathroom and fan. Big John Scuba is quite well-known among HK and China tourists, and it earns very good reviews in TripAdvisor.

Big John Scuba
Room Rate*: RM90 (≈USD27)
Facebook: BIG-JOHN-Scuba
Tel: +60 14-2843723, +60 89-785399
Office Address: Jalan Kastalam No. 1 P/S 124, Semporna 91308, Sabah, Malaysia.

Mabul Beach Resort (Scuba Junkie)

Scuba Junkie wins the heart of many backpackers and sea turtles. They are the winner of 2012 Responsible Tourism Award (Best in Protection of Natural Areas and/or Wildlife Conservation) and own a 5-star PADI dive centre. Mabul Beach Resort has 24 en suite rooms situated on the beach front. You have a choice from basic dorm room to VIP air-con room.

office of Scuba Junkie in Semporna town
Pic: office of Scuba Junkie in Semporna town

Room Rate*: RM110 (dorm) – RM485 (VIP room) (≈USD28 – 122)
Facebook: Scuba Junkie
Tel: +60 89-785372, +60 89-782372
Office Address: Block B Lot 36 Semporna Seafront, 91308 Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

Billabong Scuba

A wooden stilt house that offers basic / budget homestay. Air-conditioned room with attached bathroom is available (at higher rate of course).

Billabong Scuba
Room Rate*: RM70 – RM250 (≈USD21 – 76)
Tel: +60 89-781866
Office Address: Lot 28, 1st floor, block E, Seafront New Township, Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

Spheredivers Lodge

A budget lodge with 7 Units of twin sharing rooms. Family room available.

Spheredivers Lodge
Room Rate*: RM890 (≈USD270) for 3 day 2 night dive package
Facebook: Spheredivers
Tel: +60 19-6657043

Sipadan Dive Centre Mabul Lodge

This lodge has 4 rooms equipped with 3 single beds (triple share) and ceiling fan, and 7 beach-front chalets equipped with 2 single beds (twin sharing), ensuite bathroom and air-conditioning.

Room Rate*: (Online Booking available) RM100 – RM165 (≈USD30 – 50)
Facebook: sdcmabul
Tel: +60 88-240584
Office Address: Sipadan Dive Centre Sdn. Bhd., Lot No. A1103, 11th Floor, Wisma Merdeka, Jalan Tun Razak, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge

A relatively new lodge that offers budget dorm and standard rooms.

Seahorse Sipadan Scuba Lodge
Room Rate*: RM80 – 120 (≈USD24 – 36)
Facebook: Seahorsesss
Tel: +60 89-782289, +60 12-2797657
Office Address: Lot A1, 1st Floor, New Township Seafront, 91308 Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

Arung Hayat Lodge (Mabul)

This lodge has been in business since 1999. Besides accommodation, they also offer sea sports activities such as diving, snorkeling and day trip to most islands of Semporna.

Room Rate*: (Online Booking available) RM90 – 210 (≈USD27 – 64)
Facebook: Arung.Hayat
Tel: +60 12-8229984 (mobile), +60 89-782846 (office)
Office Address: Jalan Pinggir Bakau, Peti Surat 245, 91308 Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

The following are a few more other accommodations that I don’t have much info:

  1. Mabul Backpackers Longhouse & Dive Centre
  2. My Scuba Diver’s Mabul Homestay
  3. Summer Friends Homestay

Below is a location map of the accommodation on Mabul Island:

View My Sabah Map in a larger map

corals of Mabul
Please note that a successful booking of accommodation on Mabul doesn’t guarantee you a trip to Sipadan. The number of visitors (include divemaster, snorkeler and picnicker) to Sipadan is limited to 120 people per day, so it’s demand over supply. Some resorts bundle the Sipadan trip with accommodation package, and some lodges sell Sipadan diving day tour (3 dives) for about RM400 (≈USD120) and above. Please contact them for info.

Happy feet on Mabul
After checking out their websites with photos and read some reviews in, you shall have a good idea which one to go for. Please note some accommodations listed here may not have proper license for occupation or land/boat transport for their guests. In case bad thing happens, that might affect your insurance compensation. If a fully insured tour is your top priority, you can always contact Sabah Tourism Board to check if your operator is licensed, before the booking. Last advice – set your expectation right, you will get what you pay for. Good luck and enjoy your stay!

Which one is your favorite accommodation?

Photos taken in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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