Labuan, located in the South China Sea, about eight kilometres off the coast of Sabah is a charming island port and Malaysia's only deep-water anchorage. Seen from the air, Labuan has often been likened to a star floating on a turquoise sea.
Once a part of the Sultanate of Brunei, it was ceded to the British in 1846 following the discovery of rich coal deposits. Ruled by the British for 115 years, it joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. Subsequently, in February 1984, Labuan was declared a federal territory.
A thriving duty-free port and international offshore financial centre, Labuan has developed into an important venue for business and commerce. The island offers several excellent hotels and international venues for meetings, conventions and trade exhibitions.
Places of interest in Labuan include the Botanical Garden dating back to the colonial days, the beautifully landscaped War Memorial, the Peace Park, Kampung Ayer, Labuan's traditional water village and the Chimney at Tanjung Kubong, a reminder of the old coal mining days. For golf enthusiasts, there is the Labuan Golf & Country Club, which boasts of one of the country's finest nine-hole courses.
A round-island tour of Labuan takes approximately an hour and a half. A duty-free shopping haven, Labuan has plenty in store for visitors looking for local and imported goods. Eating out is also a pleasure as there is a wide choice of cuisine - Western, standard local or traditional Malaysian fare, seafood, Chinese and other oriental dishes. Restaurants are open until late hours of the night.
Labuan's crystal clear waters, ideal diving conditions all year round and a wealth of World War II and post-war shipwrecks have made it the region's centre for wreck-diving. Expeditions can be arranged to the island's four most popular wrecks, the American, Australian, Blue Water and Cement wrecks. If you are seeking seclusion, the outlying islands of Pulau Papan and Pulau Burong provide the right ambience and are just minutes away by speedboat.