View of Pulau Papan from the jetty. ©Денис федоров

Pulau Papan is a major tourist attraction in the Federal Territory of Labuan. The small islet, which has a breathtaking landscape and tranquil island atmosphere, is watched over by an old colonial lighthouse.

Due to its proximity to Labuan, Papan Island attracts both locals and tourists looking for a short break. It is an especially popular weekend getaway for Bruneians.

Things to do

Papan Island has a beautiful natural scenery with sandy shores and clear waters, making it a great place to relax and have fun with the family.

Here, visitors can partake in beach activities such as kite flying, building sand castles, picnicking and sampling local dishes from nearby stalls.

There is a wealth of natural resources such as coral reefs and charming marine life waiting to be explored through snorkelling and diving.

Much of the island’s surface is taken up by tropical plants and evergreen forests, and visitors may opt to traverse the forest trails to spot small animals and enjoy the natural greenery.

In 1994, Malaysia’s Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia developed a mini agriculture park with an interesting collection of regional plant life on the island. 

Stay

Chalets and campsites are available for overnight stays on Pulau Papan.

Rental facilities including function halls and meeting rooms are also available, and bookings or reservations can be made at the Department of Property Management and Assessment, Labuan Corporation (Jabatan Penilaian dan Pengurusan Harta, Perbadanan Labuan) by calling +6087 416 446 / +6087 408 650 /+6087 408 655.

Gallery

Getting here

Pulau Papan is one of six islands off the coast of Labuan. The island is only a five-minute boat ride from Labuan Jetty. Visitors are requested to register at the island’s front office upon arrival.

History

Papan Island is better known today as a camping site and weekend getaway. But this tiny islet of 10.52 hectares was originally used for a lighthouse built in 1897 during the British colonial era.

In 1902, the lighthouse was upgraded with dioptre lamps that were so bright that it could be seen 13 kilometers away. The lighthouse continued to steer passing ships into Victoria (Bandar Labuan) harbor well into the post-war years.

During World War II, the Allied forces used the island as a temporary detention camp for Japanese prisoners of war, and some of the structures can still be seen today.

In the early 2000s, a new 24-meter-tall steel framework lighthouse tower was constructed next to the old one, which still functions and has been preserved for its historical value.

Best time to visit

Pulau Papan has a tropical climate and the water remains warm all year round, comfortable for swimming.

The island faces the vast South China Sea, thus experiencing a monsoon season with big waves at the end of the year due to northeasterly winds. This situation may prevent fishermen from going out to sea and make bathing activities less suitable due to the strong waves that hit the coastal area.

The best time to visit Pulau Papan is between February and October. Water temperatures hover around 29 to 30°C throughout the year, although it can drop a few degrees during the monsoon season at the end of the year.

Map