Explore Sabah Day 19: Mantabuan Island, Semporna

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.

Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 - The Island
Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 – The Island

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!

Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 - Our shadows
Explore Sabah, Mantabuan Island, Semporna 2014 – Our shadows

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

Author: schmolphin

BIOGRAPHY Born petite, Liyana or better known as Schmolphin (pronounced as smallfin) in this cyber world was brought to the world in a country known as the small red dot city or ‘Singapore’ to be exact. She has been moving alot within the country – from the north-west to north to east then central. As a child, she's already a traveler in her own mini City. She is always holding on to a full-time job and a freelance job where she ventures into freelance accounting, wedding cards & favours, event executive, wedding deco, and tutoring during her free time. She enjoys learning and growing in every way possible. To stop & breathe, she’d go swimming. To ease her mind & soul, she seeks the beach where the sea comes running & hitting the shores & the wind can just dance on the surface of the Earth. To relax her body, she’ll dance to the beat of the musics played from her own list. No, she’s not a clubber. But a home clubber where she can just dance her heart out! Bowling is what she would do every week if possible. Oh, she just love it. N no, she has never break her bones carrying the bowl.. ^_^ All her life, she speaks in her mind. N they’re always debating. The good versus evil, they say. But it’s what that keeps her wiser each time for she thinks n listens to the small voice inside her before taking any actions. The purpose of this web is mainly to share her travel experiences & reviews or anything related that may be helpful to the next traveler. And most importantly, this web is to serve as a motivation for anyone and everyone to travel even with a tight budget. So feel free to come on board & leave your footsteps by commenting or liking whenever possible for keepsake! =) Xoxoxoxoxoxo; Lia – schmolphin

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