My base for diving in the Semporna Archipelago was Mabul Island, a tiny little island. I really loved my time there. Like any island in a beautiful region they have pricey luxury resorts, but they also had SCUBA diving backpacker hostels and bungalows with a great community, and the rest is the local village that’s built on stilts.
You could spend $300 USD per night at the luxury resort and get a beautiful place with privacy, or you can spend $30 with meals included in a great community. I chose the latter. I stayed with “SCUBA-Junkie” and really loved the community of divers. Pictured below are some of my friends from Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. I kept meeting such great people.
I also spent a night in the village amongst the local community in a “longhouse” hostel – a basic room on stilts for 45 ringgit (~$15) per night.
The diving was impressive and certainly the best I’ve done, but even besides that, the people are what made it a highlight of my trip, and some of my favorite days so far.
Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago was the best SCUBA diving I’ve ever done; it’s often rated by many as one of the top dive destinations in the world. The whole Semporna Archipelago was amazing!
Jacques Cousteau referred to Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago as ‘an untouched piece of art’ – the crown jewel of the diving is Sipadan. Lucky for you, I rented an underwater camera to capture some of the experience, including lots of sharks! Here’s some of my underwater photos from Sipadan.
I was still learning how to dive (buoyancy, breathing, equalizing, etc) when I added underwater photography to the mix, so there’s much improvement to be made in future dives, but this should give you a feel for the experience.
To get there from KL I flew to Tawau, on Malaysian Borneo. Then I took a road trip to a sleepy fishing town called Semporna, and the next morning I took a boat out to Mabul, my home base foor SCUBA diving on the Semporna Archipelago. Some areas in Borneo take quite a bit of time effort to get to, but this was worth it.
My next destination after KL was Borneo, an amazing playground with wildlife, natural wonders, and adventure.
Trivia: Borneo’s the third largest island in the world. Can you name the 1st two?
Borneo actually includes three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The vast majority of Borneo (73%) is Indonesian territory (Kalimantan). The area that interested me most is Malaysian Borneo – the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Also, the sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area. [Wikipedia]