Pulau Kuraman in Labuan Marine Park. ©Uli Schultz

Kuraman Island (Malay: Pulau Kuraman), is a small tropical island belonging to Malaysia in the South China Sea located off the coast of Federal Territory of Labuan.

It is sparsely populated and is popular with expatriates, divers and those who travel between Labuan and Brunei.

The old name of Pulau Kuraman is Mompraçem, the island that plays a starring role in Italian author Emilio Salgari’s 1900 pirate novel ‘The Tigers of Mompracem’.

At 1.47km² (363 acres), Kuraman Island is the biggest in Labuan Marine Park.

Pulau Kuraman has two main beaches and is noted for its beautiful, long sand spit leading out to the ocean and pleasant tropical island atmosphere.

Travellers can also find small restaurants on the island to buy some refreshments and light snacks.

Things to do

The long sand pit with unobstructed views of the ocean on both sides is an ideal spot to hold picnics or barbecue sessions at the dedicated BBQ pits.

The island’s interior is forested with a range of timbers and contains cleared paths for jungle walks that lead to a fishing village.

Travellers who visit Kuraman Island often go island hopping to visit other islands in the vicinity, including Rusukan Besar Island, Rusukan Kecil Island, Papan Island and Burong Island. Kuraman Island’s close proximity to Sabah and Brunei also makes it a preferred stop for travellers journeying between the two destinations.

In the surrounding waters off Kuraman there are several known shipwrecks including the Dutch steamer SS De Klerk and a minesweeper, the USS Salute, both sunk during the World War II. Kuraman, like the rest of North Borneo, was captured by the Japanese during this period and was liberated by the Australian Army in 1945, although no fighting ever occurred on the island. Two other major shipwrecks can be found in the area: the MV Tung Hwuang, a freighter that sank in the 1980s while transporting cement to Brunei for the Sultan’s new palace, and the MV Mabini Padre, a trawler from the Philippines which caught fire and sank in 1981.

A lighthouse, built by the British in 1897 and similar to the one in Pulau Papan, is situated on the highest point of the island.

Should you wish to camp here, it is also possible. On your way by boat to Kuraman Island, you might come across some locals in wooden canoes selling fresh seafood catches, including fresh fish, prawns, lobsters or squid. BBQ pits on the island’s sand spit can be rented to savour your fresh seafood purchases!

Getting here

Kuraman has no roads or vehicles and it can only be reached by boat. There is a small private jetty and a new, larger pier built by the government to assist in providing access to the island.

Kuraman Island is located approximately 14 km from Victoria Harbour, Labuan, from where it can be reached via a half an hour boat ride. Enquiries may be made at the Labuan Tourist Information Centre located near Labuan Square regarding packages or additional charges for your trip to Kuraman Island.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Kuraman is between February to October.

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