Manukan Island / Pulau Manukan
The second biggest and the most popular island near Kota Kinabalu. This island has crystal clear water and soft sandy beaches.
The possibilities for you to explore this island are endless.
Plenty of tourists love sunbathing in the sand or just soak up in the calming water near the beach.
Get your snorkeling gears ready because we’re going for a dip!
Snorkeling at Manukan Island
Allow at least 1 to 2 hours
We took a private motorboat (which we paid) to the first island, Manukan Island.
We wore our life jackets and were each given a snorkeling kit. This would be my first time snorkeling and I was really excited about the whole thing.
When you’re in the water, the noise just disappears. Try and take in as much of the view as you can. Not many fishes were swimming around when we were in the water.
Our guide took some bread and the fishes started swimming towards him.
We were told that it is really dangerous to step on the corals as we might hurt ourselves or worst – poison ourselves. So I was extra careful and floated most of the time.
Lesson learned: wear a shoe next time.
We spent a lot of time in the waters in Manukan Island. It’s also a great place to just relax on the sand or have a picnic under the shades of the many trees.
From there, we continued “hopping” to Sapi Island.
Allow at least 1 to 2 hours
Compared to Manukan Island, Sapi Island is much quieter and smaller. In some parts of the island, the seashore can be rocky where sharp rocks are everywhere. Worse, the waves are usually stronger there. I survived with a scratch on my feet when I tried to brave the currents. Wrong move.
You can always stay on the beach with everyone else where you will find no rocks but plenty of soft white sand. In my opinion, we saw more fishes on Sapi Island than we did on Manukan Island. Try to just relax, float on the surface of the water with your snorkeling gear and take everything in.
Some of my friends even removed the snorkeling gear and dived in deeper… only because I dropped something.
There is also another island called the Gaya Island nearby, but we did not have much time to visit that one.
Things to note:
If you did not pre-book a tour package, you can always buy your ticket at the Jesselton Point’s Ticketing Hall. Remember that it can be crowded on weekends!
The base price to go to an island is RM30 (boat fee included). Add on RM10 for each additional island after that.
Allow at least an hour per island if you want to go to as many islands as you can.
If you are interested in corals, then you can prioritize Manukan Island.
If you are interested in water activities, Sapi Island is the place to go where you can parasail, ride a banana boat, go snorkelling, scuba diving and sea walking.
When the tide is low, you can even walk over to Gaya Island (which is inaccessible by boat) from Sapi Island. To make it quicker, you can zipline all the way there!
Always bring your sunscreen along with you as the sun can be really scorching.
Communicate with your boat operators and make sure you are back in time for the boat and not stuck on the island until tomorrow!
Bring some food and drinks with you as the food sold in the restaurants there can cost a hefty amount!
Bring some sarung or big towels to cover yourself, ladies! The communal shower area is a place of extremely low privacy and you will need that to cover yourself when you shower or change.