Liveaboard Diving in Mabul

What to expect on a Mabul liveaboard

Liveaboard diving in Mabul will ensure divers time to explore the island's dozen or so distinct dive sites. Two square kilometers of healthy reef perched on the edge of the continental shelf, slope out to 25-30 meters deep and create homes for ocean species rarely seen outside of Mabul. Primarily serving as a fishing village for hundreds of years to the Bajau people, the 50 acre oval-shaped island with its picturesque white sandy beaches became a popular diving location in the 1990s - at first because of it's proximity to Sipadan - but has since become a destination for scuba diving in Malaysia in its own right.

Mabul underwater

Mabul liveaboards guarantee divers will see thousands for vibrant fish and corals. Water temperatures range from 27 to 29 degrees Celsius and diving is suitable for divers of all levels. The waters are relatively shallow and sandy bottoms are prevalent on all sides of Mabul Island. Located close the the mainland shores of Borneo, the waters off of Mabul are rich with nutrients and abundant in life.

All dives in the area conveniently have a top reef at safety stop depths of 5 meters so the underwater admiration can continue to the very last minutes of a dive.

Numerous types of cephalopods can be found; flamboyant cuttlefish, mimic octopus, bobtail squids and blue-ringed octopus. Various types of gobies can be found including the spike-fin goby, black sail-fin goby and metallic shrimp goby. Many species of frogfish are common sighting along with almost all types of scorpion fish.

There is no doubt about it - Mabul is a muck divers macro paradise!

Dive sites of Mabul

Liveaboards in Mabul will visit numerous dive sites in the area which may include;

Paradise - never fails to impress with its rich forest of colorful corals - particularly the rapidly-growing, distinctive Staghorn coral. Amongst the safety of the coral's cylindric tubes, divers can spot the richly-colored mandarin fish. Divers can also spot Blue-spotted mask rays and the Whiptail rays.

Coral Reef Garden East of Mabul island, Coral Reef Garden is a great place to experience much diving. Easy depths of 5-15 meters offer a wealth of crabs, shrimps, nudibranchs and seahorses.

Seaventure Platform Scuba diving the current-protected Seaventure Platform presents divers the opportunity with plenty of air time to explore all the old oil rig has to offer. Yellow, red and black frogfish are often seen about 15 meters below. Lionfish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and ghost pipefish can also be found throughout the wreck site. This dive site is also great for night diving and perfect for macro photo opportunities.

Lobster Wall consists of three walls between 35-37 meters separated by sloping reefs. The walls are covered in soft hanging corals and sponges in blues, yellow and oranges providing a healthy habitat for colorful nudibranchs. Sea fans also host pygmy seahorses, turtles, schools of yellow snapper, ribbon eels and even, on occasion, cuttlefish. Stronger currents in this area can make macro photography challenging, but this is too much beauty here to miss.

Froggy Lair Scuba diving in Froggy Lair can be tricky to navigate so staying with your liveaboard dive guides will help divers get the most out of the experience. The large, gently sloping sandy areas are dotted with wildly successful artificial reef structures. With a maximum depth of 25 meters, jacks, snappers, giant groupers, frogfish, ghost pipe fish are all in abundance. Limited visibility is common, but it is largely irrelevant because the best sites here are right under your nose.

Eel Garden Sandy seabeds at 20 meters present the perfect conditions for loads of small lairs and tunnels home to gobies, blue ribbon eels, and shrimp.

Ray Point Also known as Stingray City, Ray Point, like many other dive sites, must be accessed by boat. You'll descend directly on top of gently sloping reefs to spot crocodile fish, garden eels, blue-spotted stingrays and parades of turtles swimming by.

Crocodile Avenue For large sea-life loving divers, this may not be a favorite dive, but for those who appreciate macro sights, this is a haven for discovery.

Tips for divers

Scuba diving in Mabul is available year round. However, the dry season from March through October will offer the best visibility. All rental gear must be arranged prior to arriving for liveaboard departure as no spare equipment is available on the boat.

Getting to Mabul

The closest airport to Mabul is Tawau Airport and it will take travelers approximately an hour from here to the departure port of Semporna. From Kuala Lumpur a domestic flight will take travelers 2.5 hours to get to Tawau. Your liveaboard operator will usually arrange transfers and pickups from Tawau airport to Semporna.