Sapi Island together with Gaya Island, Mamutik Island, Manukan Island and Sulug Island made up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, which is located just off the shore of Kota Kinabalu City. With an area of 0.1 sq km, Sapi island is dwarfed in size compares with the near by Gaya Island, the largest of the five islands. Over the years a good rivalry has built up between Manukan Island and Sapi Island, where visitors have to choose between better facilities and bigger Manukan Island or the small but rich in nature beauty of Sapi Island.
The moment one arrives at the jetty of Sapi Island the crystal clear water of the sea is clearly seen. School of fish numbering in thousand, ranging from harmless small fish to the more dangerous sword fish, can be seen swimming around the jetty. Sometime Napoleon fish and Parrot fish can be spotted too. After passing through the park entrance, most visitors will ahead off to the short white sandy beach which stretches from the jetty to the western rocky cliff. Wooden tables and seats are provided put there are not many, some visitors might have to use floor mate to settle down their belongings. For those who choose to settle down under the trees that are near to the forest, do keep an watchful eyes on the macaque monkeys which are known to prey on visitors’ belongings.
The shallow and calm water here is very good for swimming and snorkeling. Children can be seen playing with sand and swimming at the shallow end of the beach, while many adults can be seen snorkeling at a small group of reefs further out. The corals are very interesting as many of them look like the human brain from the science books. Common tropical fish, like sargent fish, butterflies fish, and including the much talk about crown fish (NEMO) can be found here. This Sapi Island’s Beach is also very picturesque, with the huge green forest of Gaya Island on one side, and the distant buildings of Kota Kinabalu city as the back ground.
Forest trails with well maintain walk way that go around the island are a good way to learn more about the island nature habitats. During low tide the sea water decreases so low that it allow ones to walk around the island along the beaches, although some part is more challenging with rocky surfaces. Also during low tide the sea between Sapi island and Gaya Island is so shallow it allows one to swimming across and at time even one can simply walk across to the other end.
Activities that provided by the tour agents include jet ski, wake boarding, water skiing, banana rides, parasailing, ocean kayak. Sample price of parasailing for 10 minutes will cost RM 100 for a single person (SeaQuest tel: 6088 303 353). The Borneo Seawalking company does a very interesting sea walk where visitors are don on space like pressurised helmets and walk under the sea bed of 0.5 metre deep. Participants get to see the wonderful sea creatures swimming with them and the colourful corals. No formal training is needed for this dive, and a 30-minute dive will cost RM 250 (www.borneoseawalking.com).
The strong aroma from the food preparation for the lunch time meal, never fail to bring out the island monitor lizards, which inhabit the near by forest. A group of 6 to 8 monitor lizards with size ranging from 3 to 5 feet can be seen forwarding to the BBQ stand. Clawing on all four limbs and with a thin long tongue, these big lizard like creatures also attract many on lookers. A word of caution here, people need to understand these are wild monitor lizards and they bite period, and serious injury can happen if one is not careful.
Having lunch under the many different species of trees at Sapi Island is also a wonderful experience. These big trees characterized with many branches and thick leaves provides cooling shade from the strong sun. Special lunch packages are served at the Sapi Island, but one must booked this through the tour agents.
How to get here? Hourly speed boats depart from Kota Kinabalu jetties. The main jetty is at the Jesselton Point, and two other jetties are at Sutera Harbour and Tanjung Aru beach hotel. Depending on which islands and departing point, the speed boat takes about 10 to 20 minutes, and cost about RM 30 return.
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