Hanging out on Mabul island and diving Sipadan

Mabul Travel Blog

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Mabul: grand entrance to the long house
Sipadan seems to be a divers Mecca in these parts so I had to see that of course. Semporna where most dive boats leave from is far from being an attractive town to stay so I moved to Mabul island, a 40 minute boat ride from Sipadan.  Mabul is tiny, you can walk around it in about half an hour, it's actually full of local people who carve out a living here and most live in wooden houses on stilts by the sea. The longhouse where I spent a few days was just like that. Couldn't afford one of the 2 posh resorts on the islands, but thankfully nobody checks if you want to use some of their beach chairs or take a dive in their pool :-).
Mabul: flaky person #1 - Michael shooting some mini pool.

The place (Arung Hayat) was great, nice atmosphere and most people stay a few days here for diving and having some beach time. There were lots of interesting and flaky people to talk to so we had a few nights out in one of the posh places. Seems everybody was in an open mood and I couldn't believe some of the lurid stuff that was being discussed. I guess palm trees and turtles and people who you might never see again make it easier to come out with all the dirty laundry. Which was great fun of course :P
Snorkeling around here was a bit hit and miss, although one night we were suprised by 15 lion fish crowding in the water just beneath the jetty where we were having a drink. Never seen so many. Probably they were attracted by the lights. And turtles skirt the longhouses at high tide looking for sponges they can't get to at low tide probably.
Diving was nice around Mabul, although the natural corals aren't so great there's lots of nice fish: frog fish, flying grunnard (pretty rare to see), a school of neurotic jack fish doing a continuous merry-go-round in on of the wooden structures that have been put there to form an artificial reef. And the most humongous turtle I've ever seen, that thing must have weighed well over a few 100 kilos, the shield alone was close to 1,5 m long. My day's diving near Sipadan was OK although visibilty wasn't so good,  loads of turtles to see, not so many reef sharks, and a huge school of Barracuda. Of all the dive spots I've seen Komodo is still #1.
 
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Mabul: grand entrance to the long …
Mabul: grand entrance to the long…
Mabul: flaky person #1 - Michael s…
Mabul: flaky person #1 - Michael …
Lunch break during the Mabul dive.
Lunch break during the Mabul dive.
Semporna harbour front. Everything…
Semporna harbour front. Everythin…
Morning sweeping.
Morning sweeping.
Mabul: Arung Hayat longhouse. The …
Mabul: Arung Hayat longhouse. The…
Mabul: seaside
Mabul: seaside
Mabul: village
Mabul: village
Mabul: flaky person #2 - dutch sno…
Mabul: flaky person #2 - dutch sn…
Mabul: sailors sightseeing around …
Mabul: sailors sightseeing around…
Mabul: flaky people #3 - midnight …
Mabul: flaky people #3 - midnight…
Mabul: flaky person #4 - Maartje
Mabul: flaky person #4 - Maartje
Mabul: sometimes the locals dont …
Mabul: sometimes the locals don't…
Mabul: Michael
Mabul: Michael
Mabul: fishing
Mabul: fishing
Mabul: boat
Mabul: boat
Mabul: night on the Long Island Ic…
Mabul: night on the Long Island I…
Mabul: night on the Long Island Ic…
Mabul: night on the Long Island I…
Mabul: night on the Long Island Ic…
Mabul: night on the Long Island I…
Sipadan: army baracks in the back
Sipadan: army baracks in the back
Sipadan: lunch break listening to …
Sipadan: lunch break listening to…
Mabul: lion fish at night #1
Mabul: lion fish at night #1
Mabul: lion fish at night #2
Mabul: lion fish at night #2
Mabul
photo by: Mezmerized