Malaysia is home to some of the most picture-perfect islands around the world. Tourists across the globe flock over to this beautiful country for a dream tropical getaway. Sabah islands take up a large chunk when it comes to the best ones in the country.
Whether it is a relaxing beach vacation or a sea diving holiday, there’s something out there for every traveler visiting Sabah islands.
Top 10 Sabah Islands to see
The tropical islands off the coast of Sabah compete with the best in the world. From pristine white sandy beaches, beautiful volcanic remains, to abundant coral reefs, there are many idyllic places to soak in.
Sabah island hopping is a favorite activity with tourists who want to fill their kitty with a variety of experiences.
Here’s a list of some of the best ones that the state has to offer:
Bohey Dulang Island
The island probably tops the list for tourists visiting Sabah. Bohey Dulang is one of the most picturesque land masses around. It is one of the eight islands included in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
This mountainous island is built on the remnants of a volcano that erupted in ancient times about 2.5 million years ago. The crater of the volcano is filled with seawater creating a breathtaking, majestic lagoon.
Tourists can hike up a short 600m trail to the peak of the volcanic mound. The top gives a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery below along with glimpses of some exotic flora and fauna.
Bohey Dulang also hosts a clam museum and a pearl cultivation centre that breeds rare giant clams.
Additionally, the lush green landscape is home to some of the most exotic bird species that you’ll ever see. Bird lovers can spend time in this tropical paradise that is home to owls, hornbills, babblers, black-naped fruit doves amongst many others.
Sipadan is a hidden gem amidst the sparkling blue ocean of Sabah. Located right in the middle of the Indo-Pacific Basin, the island is a famous diving destination. The land mass is a result of dense coral growth on the mound of a volcano that went extinct.
The rich marine life with schools of fish, reef sharks, turtles are reasons for it being a top ranking international diving site.
The island has been placed under preservation status since 2005. There are hence no resorts for visitors to stay on the island. However, a short day tour kept for diving won’t leave you disappointed. The crystal clear waters, abundant marine life along with a healthy reef system is worth experiencing.
Mabul Island is a 15-minute boat ride from Sipadan Island. The island was originally inhabited by fishermen community and was a small fishing village.
However, the heavy sediments (muck) under this part of the ocean is a big attraction for some exotic marine life. This is the reason why Mabul is a popular muck diving site across the world. Species like eels, sea slugs, barracuda fish and the blue-ringed octopus are common visitors here.
With so much to see under the blues, it is now a popular diving destination for tourists across the globe.
Gaya along with a few other islands are included within the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.
Police beach on the Gaya island is extremely popular amongst tourists for its long shoreline and a scenic setting.
Another key attraction available on the island is the zip line between Gaya and Sapi Island. It is not just the longest island to island zip line in the world, but also one of the fastest. You can zip right over the ocean at a super fast speed of 55 Km/hr. Its nickname of “flying fox” is hence absolutely justified.
Known for the first underwater post office in Malaysia, this island is a sea diver’s paradise. With the exceptionally rich reef system, diving and snorkeling activities here can be very enriching.
Mataking is a private island owned by the Reef Dive Resort. Luxury facilities like beach villas, chalets, spa, and ocean activities make it a perfect tropical getaway for travelers coming to this part of the world.
Additionally, the beautiful beaches on the island offer perfect sun soaking opportunities for visitors.
Bodgaya is another island in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. It is, however, not really popular for beaches or long shorelines. Instead, it is famous for representing the Bajau Laut tribal lifestyle and traditions.
The “sea gypsies” tribe of Sabah, Borneo is popular for its affinity with the ocean. The unique lifestyle, houses, and pathways made on stilts are an eye-opening as well as a learning experience.
Travelers love to visit the island for an authentic feel of one of the largest ethnic groups of Sabah. Since it is on the way to the Bohey Dulang island, it is a popular stopover point for travelers.
Located in Beluran, Sabah, the Lankayan is a popular island destination for avid divers around the world. The rich marine life attracts tourists and nature lovers to the island. Black tip sharks, seahorses, giant clams, coral shrimps, ghost pipefish, parrotfishes, rays, and guitarfish can easily be spotted during a diving session.
The ocean here also supports a healthy coral reef system. Additionally, whale and shark sightings are commonly reported by visiting tourists.
The island is also a preferred nesting spot for Green and hawksbill sea turtles.
The island has only one resort- the Lankayan Island Dive Resort.
Pom Pom Island
This beautiful piece of land amidst shining blue water is a heaven for luxury seekers. The white sandy beaches are almost untouched making it a postcard destination for travelers. With the grand Pom Pom Island Resort built right over the water (water villas), this is a popular spot for honeymooners and young couples.
With facilities like fine dining, guided diving lessons, bar by the ocean, the island is a perfect way to spend a relaxing holiday.
The marine resort on the Pom Pom island also runs a private turtle hatchery. The island is also known to be a popular nesting spot for hawksbill turtles.
Pom Pom is also conveniently close to the Timba Timba island which can be reached by a short boat ride.
Kapalai is more or less a sunken sand bar that’s used by a private resort to put up luxury chalets over the ocean. Just like Pom Pom island, Kapalai is famous with the luxury seekers, honeymooners, and young crowd. Apart from the resort part of the island, the rest remains completely uninhabited.
The beach on the island can only be seen during the low tide. At other times, you are totally surrounded by shades of blue.
If you’re staying at the Kapalai Island, hopping over to the beautiful Sipadan island for a diving session is easily possible. So, while you can enjoy the 5-star comforts of the resort, you can also get your share of adrenaline rush with sea diving.
Tiga Island is a combination of three uninhabited islands, namely, Tiga Island, Sandspit Island, and the Deadly Snake Island. Tiga is known for its volcanic mud pits used for skin ailments. The sand spit is a long and narrow strip of sand whereas the deadly snake island is home to tons of poisonous reptiles.
Tiga is a unique marine park and offers tourists various water activities like snorkeling, deep sea diving, kayaking, etc.
The list of beautiful islands in Sabah can go on. What’s even more amazing is that a good majority of these tropical islands maintain an untouched feel even till date. This is perhaps due to the developmental limitations posed by the country and state laws.
The magical marine life, the crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches are what travelers need when they plan a tropical getaway. And that is exactly what they get in these beautiful Sabah islands.