Top 10 Islands in Sabah for a Great Holiday (2024)

Islands in Sabah (Pulau di Sabah)

Sabah is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Whether you’re looking for a secluded getaway or an action-packed adventure, the islands in Sabah have something for everyone. Here are our top 10 picks for you!

1. Kapalai Island (Pulau Kapalai)

Kapalai Island (Pulau Kapalai)

Kapalai Island is a remarkable destination, offering a unique and unforgettable experience that is difficult to find anywhere else. Despite its name, it isn’t really an island but a stunning sandbank at sea level surrounded by the pristine waters of the Celebes Sea. The only artificial structure here is the Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort, featuring surreal water chalets built on stilts that offer amazing views over shallow waters near the edge of Ligitan Reefs.

Experience Kapalai Island’s crystal clear blue waters as you snorkel or scuba dive around some of the world’s most picturesque coral reefs or take off on an ocean kayak to explore more distant parts of one of the most beautiful islands in Sabah.

2. Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul)

Mabul Island (Pulau Mabul)

Mabul Island is a paradise above and below the sea, just waiting to be explored! Situated on the northwest corner of a large 200-hectare reef, Mabul Island is a small oval-shaped island with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. While you can always spend your day lazing on the island’s soft sand, the incredible array of marine life makes this one of the unique islands in Sabah.

From flamboyant cuttlefish and blue-ringed octopus to spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray eels, Mabul Island’s underwater playground has it all. And when you’re done exploring what lies beneath the surface, you can rest in one of the accommodation options ranging from backpacker-styled lodges to luxurious water bungalows.

3. Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan)

Sipadan Island (Pulau Sipadan)

Are you looking for a dive destination that will take your breath away? Sipadan Island is here to answer your prayers! A true underwater paradise, Sipadan Island has been luring divers from all over the world for decades.

Located atop an extinct undersea volcano, this island boasts 40 acres of oceanic island and rises 600 metres from the seabed. Sea life abounds in this idyllic setting with 3,000 species of fish, hundreds of coral species and plenty of turtles. You won’t be disappointed by the spectacular sights waiting for you underwater.

To experience the beauty of one of the best islands in Sabah for yourself, you’ll need to arrange with one of the dive operators on the nearby islands, such as the Kapalai and Mabul islands.

4. Bohey Dulang Island (Pulau Bohey Dulang)

Bohey Dulang Island (Pulau Bohey Dulang)

Bohey Dulang Island is a paradise made up of remnants of volcanic activity waiting to be discovered! This stunning natural beauty is the second-largest island in Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Bohey Dulang Island is ideal for day trips and exploring neighbouring islands as it is reachable by a 30-minute boat ride from Semporna mainland.

The highlight of this stunning island is its hill that offers spectacular views from the top. But don’t let the climb intimidate you – it may be challenging, but it’s certainly worth it! Be sure to wear proper shoes as you take on this rewarding journey, and if necessary, you can even rent appropriate footwear from the mainland.

5. Pom Pom Island (Pulau Pom Pom)

Pom Pom Island (Pulau Pom Pom)

Pom Pom Island is a dream destination for anyone looking to get away from it all and immerse themselves in nature. You can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, relax on its beautiful white sand coral beach, or explore its spectacular marine life. This island also plays a vital role as a nesting location for green and hawksbill turtles.

For those looking to explore the depths of Pom Pom Island’s marine life, plenty of dive packages are available from Pom Pom Island Resort – a beautiful paradise island resort with PADI Dive Centre. But it doesn’t stop there, as the island is surrounded by six other islands just waiting to be explored! Whether you want to soak up the sun on the beach, take a dip in its crystal-clear waters or go on an adventure around the other surrounding islands, Pom Pom Island will provide you with a truly unforgettable experience.

6. Lankayan Island (Pulau Lankayan)

Lankayan Island (Pulau Lankayan)

Feel like escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Lankayan Island is the perfect destination for you! The untouched beauty of Lankayan Island will take your breath away with its endless pure white sandy beach and thick tropical island vegetation on its topside. Located in the Sulu Sea, just a 1.5-hour boat ride north of Sandakan, this gorgeous paradise has been declared a Marine Protected Area and remains largely undeveloped.

You can stay in one of the 23 wooden chalets that offer plenty of space and comfort to enjoy unparalleled views from your room’s balcony.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation or an adventurous dive trip, Lankayan Island has something for everyone. From vibrant coral walls filled with macro life and captivating wrecks to whale sharks during the peak season from March to May, Lankayan Island’s diverse marine environment makes it the perfect spot for scuba divers of any skill level. Sea turtles also love this island in Sabah, with green and hawksbill turtles nesting and foraging in the crystal clear waters surrounding this majestic island paradise.

7. Mataking Island (Pulau Mataking)

Mataking Island (Pulau Mataking)

Mataking Island boasts many activities for travellers, both diving and non-diving related. Avid divers can dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the many dive sites surrounding Mataking Island, while non-divers can pamper themselves with spa treatments and batik painting. If you’re feeling more adventurous, Mataking Island offers kayaking, canoeing and jungle trekking excursions.

However, the highlight of this island in Sabah is the infamous “Underwater Post Office”. In March 2006, Reef Dive Resort, the only resort here, sunk an old 40-foot wooden cargo ship to create an artificial reef and an underwater mailbox. Divers can seal their mail in a waterproof vacuum bag and post it underwater!

8. Tiga Island (Pulau Tiga)

Tiga Island (Pulau Tiga)

Tiga Island is a fantastic destination that offers something for everyone. If you seek relaxation, this island has plenty of options to help you unwind. You can dip in the crystal-clear waters or soak up the sun on one of the pristine beaches.

For those looking for adventure, you can explore Tiga Island’s lush jungle and try to spot exotic wildlife. And if that is not enough, you can camp out under the island’s starry sky. With mud pools, sea breezes, and so much more, this island in Sabah is the ideal destination for travellers who want to explore nature and relax in an idyllic setting.

9. Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)

Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)

Sapi Island is a fantastic destination, whether you are looking for a peaceful getaway or an adrenaline rush. From swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear blue sea to exploring Sapi Island’s exotic culture, there’s plenty to do here. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out Coral Flyer, the longest coral flyer zipline in the world, to get a spectacular bird’s eye view of Sapi Island and its neighbouring islands.

The highlight of this island is an immaculate secret cliff, 800 metres from the ground level, with a magnificent view. The trail leading to this cliff is full of surprises as you pass through sedimentary rocks and be greeted with a fantastic sea view.

Not only that, but Sapi Island also features several hidden beaches that will take your breath away with their serene atmosphere. These beaches are isolated enough that it’s almost as if you were living in your dream. So, pack your camera when visiting Sapi Island for a beautiful photographic experience.

10. Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya)

Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya)

Gaya Island is the largest and most famous island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. As one of the largest and most popular islands in Sabah, it offers a unique blend of relaxing beach activities and amazing underwater experiences like snorkelling and diving.

The main attraction of Gaya Island is its 400-metre stretch of sparkling white sand at Police Bay. Here you can relax on the warm sand and dip in the crystal clear waters. There are also plenty of coral reefs for adventure seekers to explore along its entire coast.

Sabah is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. With its diverse landscape and abundant natural beauty, there’s something for everyone on this list of islands in Sabah. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Sabah island getaway today!

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