Island Hopping to Manukan Island and Sapi Island in Sabah

Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)

How can you visit Sabah without visiting their sandy beaches and clear ocean?! Just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu is Manukan Island, an island to the start of an awesome island hopping trip! Not only that, it is the second biggest and most popular island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park.

The possibilities for you to explore this island are endless! To start, 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 In Manukan Island

Allow at least 1 to 2 hours

We took a private motorboat (which we paid) to the first island, Manukan Island. After wearing our life jackets, we were each given a snorkeling kit. Honestly, it was my first time snorkeling and I was really excited about the whole thing. But, I have to admit that the life jacket is pretty annoying. 

One thing I love about snorkeling is that when you’re in the water, the noise just disappears. At this time, try and take in as much of the views as you can and submerge yourself in the majestic underwater world. Not many fishes were swimming around when we were in the water, but there were a lot of corals for us to take in. Bring some bread and biscuits and the fishes will start swarming in your direction! 

Our guide told that it is really dangerous to step on the corals as we might hurt ourselves or worse, poison ourselves. So I was extra careful and floated most of the time. It’ll be great if you have those waterpoof shoes for wearing at the beach so you won’t hurt yourself.

Time passed in Manukan Island without us realizing that we had actually spent a lot of time! From there, we continued “hopping” to Sapi Island.

Snorkelling In 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 with sharp rocks lying around everywhere. Not only that, the waves are also much stronger there. I survived with a scratch on my feet when I tried to brave the currents. Wrong move.

Of course, 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!
  • 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.
  • Prioritize Manukan Island if you are interested in corals.
  • 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 the next day!
  • Bring some food and drinks with you as the food sold in the restaurants there can cost a hefty amount!
  • The communal shower area is a place of extremely low privacy, so bring some sarung or big towels to cover yourself, ladies! You will need that to cover yourself when you shower or change.

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