Kota Kinabalu (KK) has the good fortune of having five beautiful islands surrounding the city; the five islands consist of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Sapi, and Pulau Sulug. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is made up of part of Palau Gaya and the other four islands. With the islands’ proximity to Kota Kinabalu, boat rides to the islands just take about 20 minutes from Jesselton Point, KK main ferry terminal. Day trip to these islands can be easily arranged as there are hourly shuttle boats to and from the islands.
Manukan Island is the second largest island among the five islands, and by far the most visited island of the five and properly the most visited island in Sabah. Manukan Island is also where the Park Headquarters is located. The island is well equipped with facilities like souvenior shop, restaurant, sundry shop, washroom with shower cubicles. A popular buffet lunch is run by the restaurant daily. Many outdoor tables and seats are provided free for use by the visitors. There are also a few chalets (20 units) for rental and booking can be done at the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges at Wisma Sabah. Price starts from RM320 per unit.
The crystal clear water along the beaches of Manukan Island offers visitors easy access to the life of marine creatures that live in shallow waters. Life guards are also stationed at the beaches. The northern tip of the Manukan Island also boasts of the biggest coral reefs among the 4 other islands, and is a paradise for snorkellers and one can spend hours exploring the many different corals, where fishes live. Snorkelling at Manukan with its shallow waters is like submerging in a huge aquarium, fishes can be seen happily swimming with the snorkellers.
Many species of fish can be spotted at the coral reefs at Manukan Island, and there are Parrot fish, Batfish, Foxface Rabbitfish, Sergeant Major, Butterfly fish, Clown fish (nemo), Cardinal fish, Moorish Idol, and Sweet Lips, just to name a few. On occasions if one is lucky enough, turtle can be spotted too. A set of snorkelling gears including a mask, a snorkel and a pair of flippers can be rented from the tour companies for about RM 25.
With its long white sandy beach facing the mainland and coupled with the sunny sun of the tropic, this is a gorgeous place for a great suntan. Be generous with the suntan lotion, as the strong tropical sun can easily burn the skin. No fun to get sunburn as it might take a few days to heal. There is a trail that circles around the island, and the trail also runs along the ridge on the west side of the island. For the more adventurous ones the trail can take more than an hour to complete. This trail also offers stunning view of the other islands and trees and plants of the tropical forest.
Other activities provided by the tour agents are banana boats ride, parachute sailing, and underwater sea walking. Scuba diving can also be arranged by the many dive companies in KK. There are many interesting dive sites here including a 20feet fishing shipwreck that is situated nearer to Mamutik Island.
A visit to the Exhibition hall provided by Sabah Park is going to improve one’s knowledge on the marine life tremendously. Just next to the restaurant The Exhibition Hall also gives a good account of life on the coral reefs. Skeletons of turtle, dugong, red snapper, and a whale head are on display. There are also many other sea creatures like sea shells, sea snakes, dead corals and alien crabs that make up the rest of the exhibition. Sea grasses and seaweeds also find a home here and don’t forget to check out the giant clam that is on display at the exit. From Tuesday to Sunday visiting hours are from 9am to 3pm, except on Friday when they close from 11:30am t0 2pm. Monday is closed. Entrance is free.
The main jetty is at the Jesselton Point, a ride from here starts from RM 18. The other two jetties are at Sutera Harbour and Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel, the fares here are higher at RM 40, but travelling time to the island is cut short by half, just ten mintues. Entrance to the island is RM 10 and RM 3 for MY card holders.
Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city life? And for the tired travellers to Sabah after a few days of exploring the many interesting places, Manukan Island is the prefect place to unwind and rejuvenate one body. For alternative visit Sapi Island, Mamutik Island, or Island Hopping.
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