I'm looking at going to dive in the Celebes Sea in (northern) Borneo. And obviously I want to dive at Sipadan Island (yes I do have the required Advanced Open Water PADI).

I want some quality time on an island as well - it'd make the experience even nicer while making the snorkeling and diving much easier/more accessible.

I am torn between Amil Island and Mabul Island, so I'd like to know, what are the differences between those two places?

By differences I mean: differences in population density, accommodations/facilities available, prices of stay (accommodation & food), beach & underwater life, and number of diving schools, the more info the better.

Celebes sea's islands map

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    Differences in terms of what? Snorkeling/diving sites? Thickness of the sand? ;)
    – JoErNanO
    Jul 4, 2015 at 7:35
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    Mabul island has several resorts specifically catering to divers; it also has less expensive hostels for backpackers and hitchhikers wishing to stay less expensively. There are trips/tours run from Mabul to Sipadan. Si Amil island is uninhabited.
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 30, 2015 at 23:45
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    @CGCampbell your comment should be an answer really.
    – Adriano
    Aug 31, 2015 at 1:23

1 Answer 1


Mabul Island has several resorts specifically catering to divers; it also has less expensive hostels for backpackers/hitchhikers who wish the less expensive lifestyle. There are trips/tours daily over to Sipadan supporting that diver community as well.

Mabul is commended not only for its closeness to Sipadan diving, but for it's own diving as well. Although not as clear as one would want (for many reasons, mostly man-made issues) there is plenty of undersea life readily available.

Si Amil island has a pier and some sunken WWII jetsam. This island is not permanently inhabited, and is only reachable by boat. There appears to be pretty decent diving there as well, although it's not hailed by many as a "spot to go to".

All in all, it's kind of hard to tell if Mabul is recommended because they "want the tourists to go there as an alternative to Sipadan" or if it's truly great diving. Conversely, is the lack of recommendations of Si Amil diving because there's nothing to see, or no one living there needing the tourism money.

If you have the time and wherewithal, I might recommend both! Then blog about it. :)

  • I actually already was in Mabul island. The diving there is pretty cool, loads of turtles, many fishes, good macro, and good coral. But yeah, there are a lot of people living on the island so a lot of pollution threatening the site.
    – Adriano
    Aug 31, 2015 at 14:31

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