The 5 Ocean Pearls – Island hopping At Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is surrounded by a bunch of small islands offering amazing water sports, sandy beaches, various water sports and coral reefs and more. Island hopping is one of the recommended things for tourists to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. These 5 islands which lie close to each other form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. A short 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu takes you there. The boat ride itself is fun and sets the pace for what has to follow. Some of the islands that can be explored in Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping tour includes Manukan Island, Sapi Island Mamutik Island & Sulug Island. An important thing to remember is that the local authorities protect the coral reef & marine life of these islands.

Manukan Island

Manukan Island is the most developed and favored islands with the tourists. The 1500 meter long sandy white beach at the island is perfect for relaxing. Snorkeling, scuba diving, beach volleyball, parasailing, banana boat ride, jet ski, swimming, hiking are some of the activities one can find there. The Manukan Island Resort by Sutera Sanctuary resorts is a wonderful place to spend a night. The beautiful cottages built on the hillside overlooking the ocean are a dream for any couple. Apart from the resort, basic facilities and small tourist shops which sell plastic phone covers, swimming goggles etc. Perahu Restaurant, Arang Barbecue & Koktas Café are a happy sight for hungry travellers.

Sapi Island

Sapi Island or Pulau Sapi is one of the smallest islands in that zone. Though small in size, it’s a big favorite with tourist as it offers an amazing snorkeling experience and vibrant and rich marine life. Though small, it is a preferred destination on the Island Hopping Kota Kinabalu tour. The one not to be missed thrilling highlight on this island is the Coral flyer. The 235-meter zip liner that takes you from Gaya Island to Sapi Island in less than a minute, making you want it to last a little longer. Set at 45 meters above the sea, average speed ranges from 50-55 km per hour giving an experience of a lifetime.

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island, locally known as Pulau Mamutik is part of this Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping tour. It might not be as popular as Manukan or Sapi islands but that means lesser crowds and more privacy, making it less touristy.  This is the one place from where you can view all the islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The island is at a distance of hardly 3kms from Kota Kinabalu city harbor and gives a great view of Kota Kinabalu city from the island. Like the other islands, Mamutik Island also offers scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports, swimming, camping, hiking and trail facilities. It is also the official training site for Borneo Divers, a PADI certified dive center in Kota Kinabalu.

Sulug Island

Pulau Sulug or Sulug Island as it is commonly known is the least developed or visited island in this group of islands. The island also known as rocky island provides a beautiful white sandy beach and crystal clear water for swimming, snorkeling & scuba diving for those who crave privacy. It does not offer much in the name of facilities but is a haven for those who crave the solitude and peace.

Ziplining at the Coral Flyer, Picture credits: travel.earth

How to Begin the Tour

Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal is the starting point of Island Hopping Kota Kinabalu tour is. The beautiful harbor lined with all boats is a delight to the eyes. There are many tour operators in the terminal who can do the needful for you. The speedboats start departing from the terminal at around 8 am and even earlier by 7:30 am on public holidays and weekends. To cover at least three islands in a day, try not spending more than two hours on each. Make sure to confirm the return timings of the speedboats which are generally around 4:30 pm as missing them means spending a night on the island.

Facilities Available on the Islands

These islands see major tourist traffic and so most of the basic facilities can be found there. Restaurants, cafes, and shops offering quick snacks, lunch, soft drinks, drinking water, mobile covers, beach mats, insect repellent, beach slippers, sunglasses, hats & more. Basic snorkeling & diving equipment such as fins, masks and life jackets can be rented quite easily from these shops on the island. Quite a few water sports and other activities are available which include Sea Walking, Scuba-Doo, Parasailing, Banana Boat Ride, Flying Fish and Jet ski to name a few.

Tips to Remember

Safety tips for the tour.

1. “Monitor Lizards” are found very often on these islands. Try not engaging with them.

2. It’s advisable to book these tours with proper tour companies. Borneo trails is one good company to explore.

3. Except for Manukan Island, you can camp at all the other islands. But don’t take forget to take permission from the island main reception. Camping tents are available for rent and can easily accommodate up to four people.

4. Children must be accompanied by adults at all times in the water. Certain areas of the beach have an unexpected 2-3 meters deep incline and can prove dangerous.

The Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping most definitely needs to be included in the itinerary of all tourists to enjoy rich marine life, water sports, snorkeling, scuba diving, or just relaxing by the beach.

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