Lighthouses of Malaysia: Labuan and Sabah

The nation of Malaysia is in two parts: Peninsular Malaysia (also called West Malaysia or Malaya) on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo (East Malaysia) on the island of Borneo roughly 700 km (450 mi) to the east. East Malaysia includes two former British colonies, Sarawak and Sabah, plus a smaller territory called Labuan. Another former British protectorate, Brunei, is an independent enclave surrounded by Malaysia. Sarawak was ruled from 1842 to 1946 by Sir James Brooke and his descendents, who were known as the "White Rajahs," while Sabah was controlled by the British North Borneo Company from 1881 to 1946. After a period as crown colonies, both regions became states of Malaysia in 1963.

This page is for the lighthouses of Sabah; there's another page for Sarawak. Also included are lighthouses of Labuan, a federal territory split off from Sabah. Sabah occupies the northern tip of Borneo, facing northwest on the South China Sea and also northeast on the Sulu Sea. The lighthouses of Sabah are mostly in remote areas, so they attract few visitors and very little is known about them. Information and photos would be very welcome.

Aids to navigation in Malaysia are the responsibility of the Marine Department (Jabatan Laut). Sarawak and Sabah formerly had their own marine departments, but they were merged with the Peninsular Malaya marine department in 2011. The Malay term for a lighthouse is rumah api; an island is a pulau and a cape is a tanjung.

Special thanks to Ezmil Sahrani of GreenFinder Asia for permission to post several of his photos on this page.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. MY numbers are Malaysian light list numbers, where known. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Aids to Navigation
Posted by the Marine Department, this page links to slide-show presentations on Malaysian lighthouses. Some of the photos are out of date.
Lighthouses Sabah
Small photos and information, also posted by the Marine Department.
Online List of Lights - Malaysia
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas. The Sabah photos are by Rainer Arndt.
Image Bank - Lighthouses of Malaysia
Posted by Greenfinder.asia, this site has several photos of East Malaysian lighthouses.
Lighthouses in Malaysia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Malaysian Lighthouses
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.
GPSNavigationCharts
Navigational chart information for East Malaysia.

1916 Batu Tinagat Light, Tawau
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission

Labuan Lighthouses

Note: Labuan is a small archipelago lying north of Brunei and 8 km (5 mi) off the western tip of Sabah. The Sultan of Brunei ceded the islands to Britain in 1846. They were attached to North Borneo (Sabah) in 1890, then to Straits Settlements (Singapore) in 1906. After World War II they were once again attached to North Borneo. In 1984 Sabah ceded the islands to federal control and they were reorganized as a federal territory. They are now a financial center and free trade zone, as well as a popular resort.
Pulau Kuraman
1897. Active; focal plane 66 m (217 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower with lantern, gallery, and enclosed watch room. Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome is red. A 2016 photo (second photo on the page) is available, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#12), and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse marks the north side of the entrance to Brunei Bay, serving as a landfall light; it also guides ships approaching the port of Labuan. Located atop a small island about 15 km (9 mi) southwest of Labuan, just off the southwestern tip of Pulau Labuan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-003; Admiralty F1947; NGA 24392.
* Pulau Papan (2)
Date unknown (station established 1897). Inactive since 2007. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) hexagonal steel skeletal tower with gallery and a round enclosed watch room. Lantern removed. Ezmil Sahrani's photo is at right and Bing has a satellite view of the station. The lighthouse was replaced by a taller tower in 2007, but the Marine Department has stated that the older tower will be retained as a historic building. The original lighthouse was described in 1904 as a white wood pyramid. Pulau Papan is a small island off the entrance to Labuan harbor. Located near the west end of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-027.
* Pulau Papan (3)
2007 (station established 1897). Active; focal plane 37 m (79 ft); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 41 m (135 ft) round steel tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. A photo showing both lighthouses is available; in another photo the new lighthouse is behind the old one. Trabas has a very distant view by Bjørn Poulsen. Located next to the historic lighthouse. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1949; NGA 24396.
Tanjung Kubong (Bethune Head)
1973. Active; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 24 m (79 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white with a red horizontal band. Jason Thien has a view from the sea and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northern tip of Pulau Labuan. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-015; Admiralty F1948; NGA 24440.
Pulau Papan Light
Second Pulau Papan Light, January 2011
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission

Sabah Lighthouses

West Coast Division (South China Sea) Lighthouses
Pulau Tiga (2)
2002 (station established 1974). Active; focal plane 74 m (243 ft); white flash every 10 s. 25 m (82 ft) round steel tower, painted white with one broad red horizontal band. Sahrani's photo is at right and Bing has a satellite view. NGA formerly described the original framework tower. In 2000 the first series of the U.S. reality television program Survivor was filmed on Pulau Tiga. The island is a national park and resort accommodations are available; we do not know if it is possible to visit the lighthouse. Located at the highest point of Pulau Tiga, an island about 60 km (37.5 mi) southwest of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-020; Admiralty F1955; NGA 24446.
Kimanis
2013 (?). Active; focal plane about 35 m (115 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with an open lantern and gallery, painted with black and white horizontal bands. Wikimedia has a May 2014 photo by Uwe Aranas, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at a new oil and gas terminal being developed south of Papar, about 45 km (28 mi) south of Kota Kinabalu. Site status unknown. Not yet listed by the Admiralty.
[Pulau Layangan (Sungai Papar)]
2007. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 10 s. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) steel post painted with red and white horizontal bands. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#12) and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a small island about 3 km (2 mi) off Tanjung Papar and the entrance to the Papar River. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1955.8.
[Pulau Mengalum (Mangalum)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); yellow flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete tower mounted on a square platform. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Mengalum is a small island, known for its beach resorts, about 100 km (60 mi) northwest of Kota Kinabalu. Located on the reef off the northwestern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F9537.67; NGA 24461.
[Pulau Mengalum (Mangalum) North]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); two yellow flashes every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete tower mounted on a square platform. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located on the reef off the northern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F9537.675; NGA 24461.5.
Pulau Tiga Light
Pulau Tiga Light
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission
Pulau Gaya (Tanjung Bulijong) (1)
1978. Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 24 m (79 ft) square skeletal tower. When the present light was built the original light was left standing, although it may be removed later. No photo available, but the tower is seen at the right edge of Ezmil Sahrani's photo of the newer tower at right.
Pulau Gaya (Tanjung Bulijong) (2)
2002 (station established 1978). Active; focal plane 168 m (551 ft); white flash every 5 s. 24 m (79 ft) round steel tower, painted white with one broad red horizontal band. Ezmil Sahrani has the closeup photo at right, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#2), Trabas has Arndt's photo, and Bing has a satellite view of the station. Pulau Gaya is a mountainous island protecting the harbor of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital. The island is accessible by ferry, but the lighthouse is remote. Located at the northwestern tip of the island. Site status unknown. Site manager: Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. ARLHS EMA-018; Admiralty F1956; NGA 24464.
Pulau Usukan
1964. Active (?); focal plane 58 m (190 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#3), and Google has a satellite view. Oddly, this important light (assuming it is active) is not listed by the Admiralty. Located at the western tip of Pulau Usukan, an island about 50 km (30 mi) north of Kota Kinabalu. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.

Kudat Division Lighthouses
Pulau Mantanani
1941. Active; focal plane 50 m (164 ft); long (2 s) white flash every 10 s. 8 m (26 ft) round concrete tower topped by a short skeletal tower. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#4), and the tower is visible in Google's satellite view. The original lighthouse was a 5 m (16 ft) round circular concrete structure with a focal plane height of 47 m (154 ft). The height of the lighthouse was raised by the addition of a 3 m (10 ft) skeletal structure. This may have occurred in 1974, the last alteration date listed. The Mantanani Islands are a small group in the South China Sea about 30 km (20 mi) west of Sabah's northern peninsula. Located on Pulau Mantanani Kecil (Little Mantanani), the westernmost island of the group. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-016; Admiralty F1962; NGA 24524.

Pulau Gaya Light, Kota Kinabalu
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission
Pulau Kalampunian (2)
2002 (station established 1925). Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); long (2.5 s) white flash every 20 s. 15 m (49 ft) round concrete tower, rising from a square 1-story base. Lighthouse painted white with one red horizontal band. A photo is available, Sahrani also has a photo, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#11), and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island just off Tanjung Simpang, the northernmost tip of Sabah (and of Borneo). Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-019; Admiralty F1964; NGA 24532.
Pulau Kukuban
1959. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Two views from the sea (3/4 the way down the page) are available, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#20), and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the south side of a small island off the east side of the northernmost tip of Sabah. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1978; NGA 24568.

Sandakan Division (Sulu Sea) Lighthouses
Pulau Lankayan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane approx. 13 m (43 ft); green flash every 5 s. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) octagonal green concrete post with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported by concrete piles. Sahrani has a good photo and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a shoal near an islet about 50 km (30 mi) northeast of Beluran. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1981; NGA 24593.
Pulau Silingaan (Selingan, Siligaan) (2)
2000 (station established 1963). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 23 m (85 ft) round cylindrical tower with gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. 1-story equipment shelter in the base of the lighthouse. Sahrani has a good photo, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#8), and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was a skeletal tower. Located on a tiny islet off the entrance to Sandakan, about 19 km (12 mi) northeast of Pulau Berhala. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Site manager: Turtle Islands National Park. ARLHS EMA-006; Admiralty F1982; NGA 24596.
* Pulau Berhala (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1951). Active; focal plane 194 m (636 ft); white flash every 6.5 s. 20 m (66 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#9), and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the highest point of Pulau Berhala, an island on the north side of the entrance to Sandakan. Boat transportation to the island is available in Sandakan, and there is a hiking trail to the lighthouse, a popular vantage point. Note: There are several lighthouses in Malaysia and Indonesia called Pulau Berhala (Idol Island). Site open, tower status unknown. ARLHS EMA-001; Admiralty F1984; ex-NGA 24604.
Selat Kinabatangan (Driftwood Point)
1964. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#13), and Bing has a good satellite view. Located on the west side of the entrance to the estuary of the Kinabatangan River. Probably accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1987; NGA 24612.

Lahud Datu District Lighthouses
Tanjung Trang (Tanjung Terang) (2)
2002 (station established 1923). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 6 s. 24 m (79 ft) round steel tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Sahrani's photo is at right, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#5), and Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on Tanjung Trang, the extreme northeastern corner of Borneo. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-014; Admiralty F1988; NGA 24620.
Tanjung Labian (2)
2002 (station established 1923). Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white light, 2 s on, 8 s off. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) round steel tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Sahrani has a photo, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#6), and Google has a satellite view. Located on the southeast side of Sabah's eastern peninsula, about 32 km (20 mi) south of Tanjung Trang. Probably accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-011; Admiralty F1988.3; NGA 24624.
Tanjung Tungku
1961. Inactive since 2013. 23 m (75 ft) triangular steel skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Sahrani has a photo, and the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#14), and Bing has a satellite view of the station. Located on a promontory about 80 km (50 mi) east of Lahad Datu. Probably accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-010; ex-Admiralty F1988.6; ex-NGA 24628.
Tanjung Membatu (Bagahak)
1957. Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 5 s. 11 m (36 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower, painted white. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#15), and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a bluff about 50 km (30 mi) east of Lahad Datu. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-009; Admiralty F1989; NGA 24632.
Tanjung Trang Light
Tanjung Trang Light
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission

Pulau Kalung Kalungan (Kalunaun)
1959. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower, lower portion enclosed. Tower painted white, enclosed structure red. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#7), but Google has only a fuzzy satellite view of the island. Located on an islet about 15 km (9 mi) south of Silam. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-002; Admiralty F1991; NGA 24664.

Semporna District Lighthouses
Pulau Mataking
1961. Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white flash every 20 s. 24 m (79 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. Sahrani's photo is at right, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#16), and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Pulau Mataking is a popular destination for scuba divers. Located on a small island in the Celebes Sea about 35 km (22 mi) east of Semporna. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-004; Admiralty F1991.6; NGA 24684.
Pulau Siamil (Si Amil)
1952. Active; focal plane 107 m (351 ft) two white flashes every 15 s. 11 m (36 ft) square steel skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Greenfinder.asia has a photo (probably by Sahrani), the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#17), and Bing has a distant satellite view of the tower. Located on a small island in the Celebes Sea about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Semporna. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-005; Admiralty F1992; NGA 24688.
[Pulau Ligatan]
1963. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft) white flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) square steel skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Greenfinder.asia has a photo, and the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#18), but Bing has only a fuzzy satellite view of the reef. This light marks the end of a coral reef system stretching southward from Pulau Siamil. Located on an islet in the Celebes Sea about 20 km (13 mi) due south of Pulau Siamil. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1992.14; NGA 24700.

Tawau District Lighthouses
Pulau Sipadan
1962. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 22 m (72 ft) square steel skeletal tower, painted white. In the Marine Department photo, the tower has red and white horizontal bands. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#19) and Bing has a satellite view. This island was the subject of a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, but in 2002 the International Court of Justice confirmed Malaysia's ownership. Located on a small island in the Celebes Sea about 80 km (50 mi) east southeast of Tawau, near the limit of Malaysian sovereignty. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS EMA-007; Admiralty F1992.2; NGA 24704.
Pulau Mataking Light
Pulau Mataking Light, Celebes Sea
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission
Batuan Tangan (Hand Rock)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); red flash every 2 s. 7 m (23 ft) octagonal red concrete post with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported by concrete piles. Sahrani has a good photo but the reef is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located on a shoal in the Celebes Sea about 20 km (13 mi) east southeast of Tawau. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1993.5; NGA 24716.
* Batu Tinagat (Kuhara) (1)
1916. Recently inactive. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern painted red. Sahrani's recent photo at the top of this page shows this historic lighthouse still standing and nicely repainted, and Google has a satellite view. Michel Forand has a historic postcard view. Located on a headland about 10 km (6 mi) east of Tawau. This site should be accessible, as the coastal road passes close to the lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS EMA-008.
* Batu Tinagat (Kuhara) (2)
2007 (station established 1916). Active; focal plane approx. 120 m (394 ft); flash every 7.5 s, white or red depending on direction. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) round steel tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Sahran's photo is at right, the Marine Department's page has a small photo (#10), and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse guides ships into Tawau, the third largest town of Sabah and an important port. Located just above the historic lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1994; NGA 24728.
Coal Mine Reach
1957. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. The Marine Department's page has a small photo (#21), but Google has only a fuzzy satellite view of the location. The light guides vessels in a narrow strait between Pulau Sebatik and the mainland, southwest of Tawau and close to the Indonesian border. Located near the northwestern tip of Pulau Sebatik. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1999; NGA 24740.

Information available on lost lighthouses:


2007 Batu Tinagat Light, Tawau
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Spratly Islands | Northeast: Southwestern Philippines | East: Zamboanga and Sulu | Southeast: Eastern Kalimantan | Southwest: Brunei

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Posted March 21, 2006. Checked and revised December 2, 2018. Lighthouses: 28. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.