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November 28, 2009

Island Hopping in K.K

Kota Kinabalu / Malaysia

The next morning, following the visit at the Filipino Night Market, we were fully-charged for island-hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park which consists of five idyllic islands – Sulug, Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik and Sapi. It’s merely a 5-min ride by taxi from King Park Hotel (where we stayed) to Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal at Jesselton Point, and that cost us a standard rate of RM 10.


At Jesselton Point, there are different tour operators providing ferry and motorboat services to the nearby islands. We didn’t bother to compare the rates offered by each operator as we guess it’s pretty straightforward since we just wanted to do a day of island-hopping. Anyway it was already 10 0′clock in the morning at Jesselton Point. Do check out the time for the next departure since you won’t want long waiting time for your boat transfer to the island.

Note: Pulau = island (Malay -> English)

We were pretty comfortable with the boat operator at the first counter near the entrance. The friendly staff recommended us to go Mamutik island as it has nice house reef and fewer people. But we decided to go Pulau Sapi and Pulau Manukan partly because our dear blogger from Sabah, Henry from Clevermunkey.blogspot.com, has been to Pulau Sapi before and posted some lovely photos of Pulau Sapi at his blog.

According to the boat operator, Sapi island is smaller and we can stay there for an hour. Then the boat will come and fetch us around noon time to Manukan island which is bigger and we can have our lunch there.

How much does it cost for the boat transfers?

It costs us RM 54 per pax which includes a life jacket, snorkel mask and boat transfers to the two islands and back to the passenger ferry terminal at Jesselton point. (as on Nov ’09).

Tips for snorkeler:

Rent the life jacket and snorkel mask from the boat operator if you plan to visit more than one island so that you just need to return the gears when you return to Jesselton Point. If not, you have to rent the gears on each island and that will cost you more.


We went island-hopping on a fine beautiful Tuesday. The crowd was small, probably ‘cos it was a weekday. I think most of them were tourists from some Western countries and also Malaysians from other states.


Ferry and motorboats at the passenger ferry terminal.


There came our motorboat. It takes roughly about 20-min short and breezy “roller-coaster” ride to Pulau Sapi. How lucky the people are in Kota Kinabalu. It doesn’t cost much and at such short distances away, you can get on to the sun-kissed beaches with crystal-clear waters, beautiful corals and exotic marine life.


It’s exciting to see such lovely blue tones of the sea just after a short boat ride from the mainland. Nature’s colours can blend in so well.


Unlike the resort that we stayed on Pulau Redang where we had to jump into the water and lift our bags above our heads and literally walked up to the shore, this one has a dock for goodness sake.


Lovely, isn’t it? We were on Sapi island.


Waters that seem to be tainted with different shades of blue.


The entrance to Pulau Sapi.


We just need to pay once for the conservation fee for all the five islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park. For non-Malaysian of 18 yrs and above, it’s RM10; for those below 18 yrs old, it’s RM 6. If you dive, that’s RM 50 for non-Malaysian. You pay at the entrance of the island.


I love Sapi island for its clear water and white powdery beach. Also spotted some Anemonefish which we like to call them NEMO affectionately, colourful parrot fish, bat fish and the list goes on… er-hem excuse me but I’m not good in naming marine creatures!


Alright, as the signboard shows, swim at your own risk. Personally, I think it’s pretty safe to swim near the shore as the water is shallow. I always wear a life jacket even though I can swim pretty well (I guess!). You can’t underestimate the underlying water current even though the sea may look calm. Just don’t swim over the designated area that’s bounded by the ropes.


You can go monitor-lizard “hunting” (notice the double quotes here!) on the island. We saw a few big ones! Those critters are ferocious and they can move very quickly. Be careful. Don’t stand too near them.


Around 12pm+, our boat came to fetch us to another island – Manukan, the most visited island in the marine park.


Next, join me on Pulau Manukan!

Read my previous posts about Kota Kinabalu, Sabah-Malaysia on My First Trip to BorneoFilipino Night Market

16 Comments Leave your comment

  • henry^munkey said on November 28, 2009 3:33 pm

    LOL… u really went to Pulau Sapi because of my blog post? Wahh.. u did manage to take a clear photo of the lizard, not bad ey :)

    Thanks for the tip on renting the snorkeling equipments from Jesselton Point instead of paying higher rental fees at the island….

    Looking fwd to read ur next post :) cheers~

  • Borneo Falcon said on November 28, 2009 4:54 pm

    Talking about monitor lizard, some people catch them for their tasty meat.

  • mylo said on November 28, 2009 9:00 pm

    Such a beautiful island! The crystal clear water is simply amazing.


  • eunice said on November 29, 2009 6:21 pm

    @Henry: Yes! Quite surprised to see such nice blue sea near the mainland of KK.

    @Borneo Falcon: Oh I think I heard about this before. Yucks!!!

    @mylo: YEP! It’s a good retreat for a short getaway.

  • davidjr said on November 30, 2009 12:57 pm

    Hello Eunice,

    Nice write for the TAR Park. Did you visit Mamutik and Sulug? I had a great time at all of the islands too as I hired the entire boat for myself. But so far only wrote about Manukan. Love to monitor lizard pic.

    Malaysia Asia

  • pinoyislands said on December 2, 2009 8:08 am

    the place is awesome like the white sand beach and clear water again thanks eunice for sharing :)

  • eunice said on December 2, 2009 9:43 am

    @David: Hi! No I didn’t visit Mamutik and Sulug. How’s Mamutik as compare to Sapi? The boat operator recommended Mamutik but we didn’t take up that offer.

    @pinoyislands: ha! “The white sand beach”.

  • davidjr said on December 3, 2009 6:52 pm

    Mamutik is equally as nice as Sapi. But Sulug is perfect for a romantic hideaway. Maybe next round you can try them? Gosh, i need additional 24 hours in a day so I can make that posting… hehe

    Malaysia Asia

  • Ferdz said on December 3, 2009 7:41 pm

    Wow! You just went in Kota Kinabalu. The place is memorable for me since it’s the first place I’ve been when I went out of the country for the first time. Glad to see nothing much has changed. Judging from your photos, the place looks beautiful still :D

  • eunice said on December 3, 2009 8:32 pm

    @Davidjr: ha! u must have taken a lot of photos. :D Same here, I’m still blogging about Kota Kinabalu. :D

    @Ferdz: yep! went there in Nov. :D Yes the islands are lovely.

  • dongho said on December 3, 2009 10:12 pm

    oh kota kinabalu! one of the filipino hikers and travellers favorite. i should be there too.

  • eunice said on December 4, 2009 2:32 pm

    @dongho: u mean u r going there soon? ya anyway Sabah should be nearer to your hometown than to Singapore.

  • Marly said on December 19, 2009 12:01 am

    Wow, wonderful pictures. As always, thanks for sharing.

  • Abu Bakar Hussin said on December 30, 2009 11:46 am

    eunice …all island are very nice to visit …mamutik beutiful beach

  • geolynel said on January 19, 2010 4:51 pm

    i love SAPI ISLAND!!!maybe bcoz that is the 1st place i do camping with my friends…..love the tracking…..also the monitor lizard….hehehehe

  • Zubaidah Noor said on January 1, 2013 2:06 pm

    Photos look very enticing… planing a visit soon. The ad above says diving equipment for RM50.00/RM20.00… how about snorkeling equipment? Do they have these for rental as well and how much? Any tips for first timers there? Thanks.

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