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Embrace yourself for a beautiful healthy reef rich in fish which will make your snorkeling session an unforgettable experience. The snorkeling at Mataking Reef Resort is among the best you can have in the Semporna Islands and coral bleaching has not yet affected this small corner of underwater paradise on Earth.

Coral reef at Mataking Reef Resort
Threespot dascyllus shoaling near Mataking Reef Resort’s drop off.

How to get to Mataking Reef Resort snorkeling spot?

Mataking Island is located in the Celebes Sea, just a 40 minutes boat ride from Semporna, on Borneo.

There are two main ways to access this spot:

  1. To stay at Mataking Reef Resort. With this option, the reef will be free for you to explore. The lifeguard looks after you in case of emergency as long as you stay within the designated area, which covers the best part of the reef.
  2. To participate in a snorkeling tour organized by the nearby resorts of Arcadia, Pom Pom, Mabul, or via the tour operators located in Semporna harbor. The local resort facilities would not be available if you visit as part of a snorkeling trip.

Mataking Reef Resort snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Mataking Reef Resort

If you stay at Mataking Reef Resort, you will enter the water from shore. Watch out for stingrays and stonefish as the sandy seabed presents scattered rocks that may pose a danger.  If you are on a snorkeling tour, water entrance will be from a boat.

Mataking Reef Resort snorkeling exploration tips

The current usually goes south so exploit it to let it drift you alongside the reef. If you access the spot from the Mataking Reef Resort‘s beach, as far as five meters from the shore the sandy sea bed starts to make room for scattered healthy corals which becomes denser as you progress towards the drop-off about 15 meters from the shore.

Coral reef at Mataking Reef Resort
Mataking Reef Resort’s house reef features large, healthy coral.

After that, the corals abruptly interrupt again to make room for a sandy and rocky seabed of poor interest. It is between 7 to 15 meters from the shore that you want to stick to enjoy the full beauty of this reef.

Hard corals alternate with soft ones with large schools of fish surrounding you. Turtles are barely seen here but the fish, including angelfish, threadfin butterflyfish, brown chromis, sergeants, and black triggerfish, are very colorful.

Sunburst butterflyfish at Mataking Reef Resort
The sunburst butterflyfish is one of the most common sightings at Mataking Reef Resort.

The reef remains constantly between 2 to 6 ft/0.5 to 2 meters below you on low tide occasionally dropping to 10 ft/3 meters. A giant moray calls home a group of rock and corals in front of the lifeguard watchtower, keep your distance as this will be less than 6 ft/2 meters deep from you. Groupers can be seen patrolling the reef and the occasional barracuda pays a visit to this location too.

Branching coral and damselfish at Mataking Reef Resort
Several types of damselfish hide in a branching coral.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

This spot is Mataking Reef Resort‘s house reef.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach or a boat
  • LifeguardYes, monitored by the resort staff
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsCost of a stay at Mataking Reef Resort or cost of a snorkeling tour

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.