The Bajau Tribe Are Known As The Sea Gypsies

In a world where urbanization and consumerism have engulfed all sections of society, villages, and towns have been transformed into concrete jungles. The indigenous community, known as the Bajau tribe, remains oblivious to the world’s chaos and still prefers to spend their lives peacefully in nature’s pod.

The Bajau tribe is known to live a rather interesting life at the sea. They can be found living near the Philippines and the surrounding islands of Borneo and Malaysia. But it wasn’t always this way. Around 200 years ago, the people of the Bajau tribe actually lived on land, specifically in the state of Sabah in Mexico. Soon, due to their inclination towards fishing, the tribe concluded their ties with the land and went on to accept their present nomadic form.

Now they are popularly known as ‘the sea gypsies’!

Owing to their waterborne lifestyle, the sea has an enormous influence on all aspects of their lifestyle, from food to clothing and shelter.


The Bajau community either lives in houses built on stilt or prefers to spend their entire lives living in handmade houseboats. These houses were built by the members of the tribes themselves over the years. An average family in the tribe comprises 5-6 members. The tribe usually lives in close-knitted villages at the sea, and only visits the land to acquire daily provisions like fuel and wood.

Small boats are used by people to navigate their way and cover small distances.


As far as food is concerned, the Bajau tribe feasts on many underwater delicacies.  All their food is hunted by the male members themselves with the help of handmade tools like a spear and knife; whereas the female members are allotted the responsibility of preparing the food. The surplus of the hunt is sold to earn money for fuel and other daily amenities.

Hunting for food

The Bajaus are also known for their exceptional diving abilities. Some can even hold their breath for 5 minutes underwater!

Female members of the tribe prepare the food

Children born in the tribe are brought up at the sea and are encouraged to learn and develop diving skills from an early age. Some children are even known to deliberately rupture their eardrums to attain the ability to hold their breath underwater for prolonged durations!

In some places, the Bajau tribe is still involuntarily made to sustain a life at sea as they are forbidden to live on land and are usually labeled as immigrants. However, the standard living conditions of the tribe have been getting relatively better with the addition of certain provisions to their lifestyle- like sending children to school and moving closer to the land for the easier trade of goods and services. The overall condition of the tribe is improving steadily. Tourists are often seen visiting and spending time with the local tribe members to learn and understand their fascinating way of life.

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