Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014

The first stop for our awesome Island Hopping today was Mantabuan Island!

Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 - Almost there!
Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 – Almost there!
Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 - Getting Close!
Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 – Getting Close!


“Wowwwwwwww…..!!” That was the first word that came out from all of our mouth as we stood by the boat. The Italian lady who was already off the boat, smiled and shook her head as she exclaimed, “This is Paradise!” Indeed it was.

I nearly fall as I got down due to the unbelievable sight I was looking at, I didn’t watch my steps. The boatman had to remind me, “Lia, hati-hati.” Which means, “Lia be careful” in Malay.

I smiled and after he told us that we have 45 minutes to explore the Island, I waved him goodbye and make my way to the shore.

Each of us explore the Island on our own except for those in groups. I took my time, taking 1 step at a time while stopping every now and then to breathe in the fresh cool air while enjoying the breezy wind. Spectacular. The crystal clear blue and turquoise water with the green trees behind me, relaxed me deep to the bone. Amazing.

I was enjoying so much that I nearly forgot to snap some pics. And when I do, I’ll snap 1 and stop, look around, close my eyes, smile, so that I’ll remember that moment forever. My first ever solo backpacking Island hopping trip in Sabah. Lovely. Blessed.

The ohh so soft powdery off-white sand is beyond wonderful. I could stay there and just roll around more often. As I walk along the shore, I took some time to swim and the corals are still pretty much alive. If you snorkel further, you’ll get to see more wonderful corals. I bumped into my dorm mate, Isabelle from Holland who is having fun snorkeling, like a gorgeous mermaid. Up and down she went, looking around for fishes, baby sharks and just whatever she’s looking for.

And I have to claim that I was dumb. I brought my GoPro Hero 4 Silver which I just bought 1 day prior to my departure, yet I did not take a video or pics with it. I was just merely getting into the moment. Sorry guys!

Just look at the water and sand, how can you not be intrigued! Here’s the mini jetty in Mantabuan.



Mantabuan Island is the smallest island in Tun Sakaran Marine Park (TSMP), with an area of about 10.08 hectares or 0.1km² and can be explored around the Island for less than 30 minutes.

Mantabuan is located about approximately 35 minutes by boat from Semporna, approximately 20 minutes from Pom Pom, 30 minutes from Mataking and 1.5 hours from Mabul.

While walking around the Island with my dorm mate, Isabelle, we saw a few children playing in the magnificent sea and came across stilt houses belonging to the residents of the villages. Spoke to 1 of the lady whom I was curious to know what is the white stuff she put on her face and she told me that it was ‘bedak sejuk’ or known as ‘cold powder’ which is made by rice and put on the face as a mask to cool the face. She was really friendly with lots of smile and the children, though aware of our presence, continues to live their life while keeping their eyes on us.

I also learn that there are about 2 families living on the Island and the villages mostly belongs to the ‘Bajau Laut’ tribe or  known as the ‘Sea Gypsies’.

After saying goodbye and as we walk away, the houses became smaller and the military post gets clearer and closer. Yes, you can find a military post situated in the Island for security purposes. If you are lucky, you’ll be given a chance to take photos but I was too scared to even get close to the post. However, Isabelle, the hot sexy mermaid was asked to take photos by the military men. She looked at me with the “Should I?”  look and I just shrugged and whispers, “It’s up to you.”

After taking pics with the military men and talking with them who are from Sarawak, we finally get to the boat, ready to venture to the next Island. This Island is truly clean. Less rubbish and still untouched. I hope that it will remain as it is in time to come. To all visitors, please keep this place clean and never take anything that do not belongs to you.


Love what you see and read? Go on, plan your trip to Semporna now!


Lia Schmolphin

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2 thoughts on “Explore Sabah Day 19: Mantabuan Island, Semporna

  1. hello Rodi,
    no problem! That happens. But it’s refreshing to see someone who is able to speak their mind out freely and adapting to the environments in Asia, and especially in a ‘Muslim’ country where people are judging them as terrorist. How are you coping with the weather? Don’t you miss the different weather you get to feel back at home? By the way, the scarf a muslim woman wear is called, ‘Hijab’. 🙂

    And with regards to that presidential elections, goodluck. Hopefully the people will wisely choose someone who is responsible and who wants to make their country a better place to live and one who will always balance the needs of its people and the economy, not for any greed or to gain power.

    Im not sure if you are ok to reveal your email add and phone numbers, so i have not approve your comments yet.


    1. Hi. Great reply. Yes it’s too hot for us right now but they say the El Niño is making a heatwave this year so hopefully it breaks soon. The US elections are hopeless and we want no part of the country for awhile. Maybe ever. We will go back to Canada after a few years. So please just copy down our contact info and thanks for not approving. I forgot that goes public as I haven’t written anyone in awhile. Hope to meet up when we go to Singapore hopefully on the next year. Best

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