Located in the Celebes Sea (Laut Sulawesi), it is a 45 mins boat ride from Semporna and an 80 mins boat ride to Sipadan Island, one of the top 10 dive spots in the world. It is less than half an hour’s boat ride to the Philippines borderline.
Note the shade of the sea. I’m telling you the water just can’t get clearer than that. It’s crystal clear.
Mataking Island is divided into two parts. Mataking Besar(which means big in Malay) and Mataking Kecil (small). These two islands are linked with a sand bar 1km long, which disappears at high tide, usually from 3pm till the next day.
Mataking Island caters for divers, honeymooners and all sorts of holiday-makers. For non divers, snorkeling is not a bad idea as the visibility under water is great. Turtles can even be spotted by snorkeling. My parents spotted an adult one, near the “turtle’s playground”. I did not. I was swimming far behind playing with clown fishes. Oh they’re so cute. I even got bitten by one as I showed my fist to them! Reef fishes are aplenty. I can’t name it all. Groupers and butterfly fish were among the fishes that I saw. There are a lot of other colourful and tiny fishes. There are also huge sea cucumbers and clams. I wonder if there are any pearls inside! The corals behind the island are all undisturbed. With the combination of all the colourful fishes, corals, sponges and so on, you can see how good an artist God is. Oh I wish I had an underwater camera!
If you snorkel around the jetty, you can find a giant barracuda named Charlie. He’s friendly and won’t bite. (According to the resort staff)
One thing you must not forget is your sun block lotion. Get one with a high spf and make sure it’s water resistant. Cover parts especially your face, nose, back of your neck, your back, and the back of your legs if you’re only wearing a trunk. If you don’t, you will get punished by the scourging sun(like me). My body turned red like a crab! And it hurts…
Other activities that you can do are fishing (you need to rent a boat). Fishing from the jetty is not allowed. You may need to bring your own bait. Or you can beg for some at the restaurant.
Or you can walk to Mataking Kecil in the morning, snorkeling around that area is common too. There are a lot of seaweed over there. Turtles go there occasionally and feed on it. It might be your lucky day I you spot one. You have to get back to the mainland the latest by 3pm. After that, the sea level will get too high, as high as your shoulders. You might get washed away by the current to Philippines (as warned)! Scared huh?
There’s also a spa and a Jacuzzi at the resort. However, resort prices are charged so don’t expect it to be as cheap as what you have back home.
Thank goodness the Jacuzzi is free. And it’s outdoor. Don’t be surprise to be tanned after coming out of the tub.
Couples can dine at the table by the jetty. Best done as the sun sets. Ah... So romantic.
At night, live music awaits you as you dine in the restaurant. Listen out for the Mataking Song! Every night, there’s a night walk organized by the stuff there. They will bring you for a tour around the island, seeing fireflies and searching for coconut crabs. These crabs can grow up to 3kg, and it is known to be very expensive at restaurants serving this unique crab. The guide introduced us to a fruit called “noni”. This fruit can be an antidote to snake venoms but few knows about its medicinal value. The smell of this fruit is also unpleasant. On the beach stretch, be prepared to look for turtles laying eggs! Female turtles only comes to the twice a year. Once in the middle of the year and another at the end of the year. It is claimed that among so many of the eggs, only one turtle will survive to reproduce 35 years later.
Mataking Island’s very own hatchery. They have green turtles and hawke bill turtles here.
For divers, they don’t need to find other things to do besides diving, diving and diving. There are so many dive sites here that some divers stay here for 9 days just to dive, and one day they can dive 3 times or maybe more! Incredible eh?
This is a “Crown-of-Thorns Starfish”. It destroys the aquatic life by eating up the corals. It was caught by divers.
There is a underwater post office off the island. There’s only a grand total of 5 underwater post offices in the world. The post box is checked twice a week and letters and postcards can be sent to any parts of the world.
Guess what? That’s not all. The coolest part is that my German teacher got married here on Mataking Island. His wedding ceremony was held underwater and this was the tree he planted.
Goodbye Pulau Mataking. Till then...
Price: RM 390 for one night’s accommodation, boat transfer from Semporna, all meals and a free flow of drinks.
Departure time from Semporna Jetty to Mataking Island is at 9 am.
From Mataking Island to Semporna, the boat leaves at 11 am and 3 pm.
Complete diving and snorkeling equipments are available for rent. Diving courses certified by PADI are also available.
Land transfer from Tawau to Semporna is also available upon request.
For more information, log on to www.mataking.com