Pulau Sebangkat is situated just 10 km from the mainland and is visible from Semporna on clear day. A boat ride from the mainland to Sebangkat takes less than 15 minutes. Among the islands of the Tun Sakaran archipelago, it is the one closest to Semporna.
Seaweed cultivation thrives on its northern side. The south-western part of Sebangkat is bordered by a sandy beach.
The indigenous population consist of the Bajau Laut and Suluks. The Bajau Laut are Sea Gypsies who live in water and survive by fishing and seaweed cultivation. The Suluks are a migrant ethnic group with a larger political identity.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
The south-western part of the island, with its calm waters, is suitable for snorkelling. Sebangkat island is also ideal for muck diving. Gorgonian seafans, pygmy seahorses, pipefishes, reef fishes, nudibranchs, sea slugs and shrimps are found here.
Meeting the Sea Gypsies
The home of the Sea Gypsies is water. Some of them hardly come to dry land their entire lives, and those who come for trading return to their boats or homes on stilts to retire for the night. Children are trained in practical skills like diving and catching fish from the age of 3. The community is a typical example of how circumstances mould skills and habits and fashion a culture.
The shallow waters around Sebangkat, especially its northern side, are ideal for seaweed cultivation. This has made the place home to an active seaweed farming group. Visitors can see clumps of seaweed drying all over and interested parties can learn the details of farming. They can buy the nutritious seaweed either from the island itself or the city of Semporna.
Where to Stay
Like the other islands of Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sebangkat too does not have any tourist accommodation. Choose to stay on the nearby islands of Mataking, Pom Pom, Singamata, or the city of Semporna, where accommodation choices are aplenty.
How to reach Sebangkat
- From Semporna to Sebangkat: only 15 minutes by speedboat.
- From Mataking and Pom Pom Island: about 30 to 35 minutes.
- From Mabul island the journey takes longer: 1.5hours.
Contact us for more information about Sebangkat.