Mabul ~ Sabah , Borneo

Why Mabul?

Mabul is a little island some 25mins by boat from Sipadan. Many who visit the area stay either at Mabul or at Kapalai. You may have found out by now that Sipadan no longer caters to overnight stays. All operators who had resorts on Sipadan have now relocated their operations elsewhere.

passing the mabul water bungalows, on the way home..

Mabul itself is a small island, currently with 4 resorts in the area, 1 converted oil rig stationed just in the shallow waters off Mabul , a bajau fishing village, a mosque, a school and an admin centre for the village. Just to the left of Sipadan Village Resort are several stalls selling all sorts of seashells. Please do not buy them as you may have been informed that it is an offence to take anything of this sort out of Malaysia and could be an offence to take them into your home country too.

young girl pumping water

Just to the back of Borneo Divers Resort is the village. A stroll round showed us how basic their lives are out here in the vast Indo-Pacific Ocean. Mostly fisherman, the bajau laut has always been noted in history accounts of being hostile and were better know in the old days as sea gypsies. Sea Gypsies had a notorious reputation of being ruthless to visiting boats. Progress has changed all that now. Many have turned to living on land and making a life out of fishing. Even so, please as a visitor on the island do dress appropriately if you intend to visit the village. They are conservative and don't take to visitors disrespecting their way-of-life much.

But Mabul has a beauty and it's not the kind you may get at Sipadan. Having been quite used to diving on coral reefs, diving in Mabul is as much a WOW! as being on coral reef. At Mabul it's called 'muck diving'. Not familiar with the term, we were not too sure that we would actually appreciate wading and finning through muck. But once we got accustomed to the fact that we've hit rock bottom..the only way to go is macro. Apparently, 'Muck Diving' was coined by a bunch of divers on a liveaboard

keeping the goats in the pen, the yard tidy and grandchildren clean

down in PNG (Papua New Guinea). Nothing to do in the evening possibly prompted an adventurous diver to jump off the boat and into the silty yonder just below the hull. Muck diving is usually in conditions where divers scour the silty, sandy shallow beds for the weird and wonderful creatures that hunt and breed and live in this seemingly barren area. Visibility is usually pretty poor but vis is not a priority in muck diving. Underwater photographers get to take their time taking as many pics as they like in conditions good for them and for the environment. No thrashing divers, no broken corals and no broken hearts.. (for the environmentalists at least)

some creatures you dont have to dive to see. this young banded sea krait was seen slithering across the bar floor. It was caught and quickly released into the water

We saw as many creatures muck diving as we did diving on the pristine coral reefs at Komodo/Flores and perhaps even more! It was simply amazing. And when muck diving, don't shrug off debris on the beds, such as old tyres, concrete blocks, bottles etc. there may be lots of creatures taking cover.