It was Friday, I was on my way to an island paradise, and I was about to get treated to three days of royal pampering! Mataking? More like Mataqueen!

Mataking Island sits on the edge of the Semporna Archipelago, about a forty-five minute boat ride off the east coast of Sabah. The Reef Dive Resort is the only accommodation on the island, and it is top-notch! Wrapped in white sand and surrounded by blue-green seas, Mataking is a beachgoer’s bliss. And with a myriad of reefs surrounding the island, there are endless underwater worlds to explore.

I was there with colleagues, Muriel, Bedley, and Stasha, and we were on a mission to familiarize ourselves with one of Semporna’s finest resorts. Twist my arm. Upon arrival, we were greeted at reception with refreshing welcome beverages, and after Stasha and I were shown to our room, we dropped our bags and went out to explore. Mataking consists of two islands, one of which is a tiny islet just off the northern tip of the main island. Around low tide the two islands briefly merge, connected by an ephemeral sliver of white sand. That evening we relaxed in the shade of some trees outside our villa, watched fruit bats fly overhead, and befriended a few of the island’s resident pups.

You don’t have to be a diver to enjoy Mataking Island, but Stasha and I had just gotten SCUBA certified a few months earlier, and we were excited to spend our second day underwater. After a hearty breakfast, we met up with our dive master and guide for a rundown what to expect – his name was Bro, dude. Our first dive was a nice warm-up around the house reef, just off the jetty, and was highlighted by a swim-along with a friendly school of fish.

The second dive was stellar – our first wreck dive! In and around the sunken forty-foot boat we were treated to multiple lionfish, an octopus, and some cuttlefish! We also swam by Malaysia’s first underwater post box, but sadly forgot to bring along any waterproof postcards to send. 

We had lunch back on the island, which was extra tasty after a morning of diving, and then took of for our last dive of the day at the Garden of Eden. It was magical. Full of soft corals and colorful fish, I was blown away by the aquatic dreamscape, and kept having to remind myself to breath. Our final dive was capped off by a most excellent hang out with some old sea turtles. What a day!

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