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Sea gypsies near Semporna, southeast Sabah, Malaysia | Insight Guides Blog

Sea gypsies near Semporna, southeast Sabah, Malaysia 27 Oct 2017

Posted on 27 Oct 2017
Sea gypsies near Semporna, southeast Sabah, Malaysia.
Sea gypsies near Semporna, southeast Sabah, Malaysia.
Sea gypsies near Semporna, southeast Sabah, Malaysia.

About this photo

The Bajau Laut people, or 'sea gypsies,' live nomadic, sea-faring lives on boats around the islands of the coral triangle in Southeast Asia. Most have settled in water villages on remote islands. However, a minority of roughly 3000 continue to live in boats or stilted huts built on coral reefs along the coastal islands off Semporna. 

The sea gypsies are very skilled people. Many have mastered free diving to depths of 20 metres or more in order to catch fish, lobsters and numerous other marine creatures. This is their livelihood, setting foot on land only to sell their catch. They are also masters of carving lepa, a style of wooden boat often painted with bright colours and used in festivals. Visit the beautiful Sabah region of Malaysia with our Experience Nature in the Wilds of Sabah trip. 

This article was originally published on 4th March, 2016

About photographer

Sylvia sooyoN/Shutterstock