Isn’t this life a vast ocean and our soulful moments, the little islands? Such felt life on a boat ride to Manukan Island; drifting away from the cityscapes of Kota Kinabalu. The calmness of the clear blue sea and the glaring sun had already begun to lift my spirit. Time had started to slow down. And rose tinted glasses were up for a flaunt. A distant deck waited to welcome me into the island. The paradise was closer than ever! Now all I needed was to surrender to its wonders.

Sutera’s Own Paradise

Sutera’s quirky café – P’Rahu - Manukan Island
Sutera’s quirky café – P’Rahu. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

Upon setting my foot on Manukan Island, I was greeted by my hosts – Manukan Island Resort by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges into their marvellous resort. Grand beach villas set amidst a private expanse of the island, Sutera is determined to spoil you with its unmatchable hospitality.

Barbeque by the ocean - Manukan Island
Barbeque by the ocean. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

Relax in the pool with a cocktail by the P’Rahu cafe or retreat into your luxurious villa; Sutera has something for everyone. Be it cooling off your weather blues with a Kalamansi lime drink or scrumptious meals, they won’t miss an opportunity to pamper you to the fullest. To make it even more special, I was led to a lit up canopy for a candle-light date with the ocean over a live musical performance. Upon leaving the island, a Sutera hangover is sure to hit you!

A rendezvous with the ocean

The private beach at Manukan Island
Reflect and take your ‘me’ time on the island. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

The love story had begun. Writing down its moments on the sand and embracing the waves of love. Going ‘Jalan Jalan’ aka a walk on the beach is the best way to explore the island.

Life started to play in slow motion. The sound of the crashing waves was the only thing to intervene with the quietness. Colourful fishes swivelling in clear waters held my gaze. The skies puffed up dramatic clouds, like a true islander. Dipping in the blues of the ocean and a ticket to the show of sunsets felt like the only way to exist. That’s the way to be on an island.

A meeting with the underwater world

The blue green waters of Manukan Island Beach
Beat your blues and plunge into the clear blues. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

Wish to meet the friends of the sea? Go snorkelling to experience the living treasures underneath. Manukan island due to its rich biodiversity is one of the best islands in Sabah for a memorable snorkel. Take a chance – go snorkelling or sail away on a private glass-bottom boat ride at Manukan, it is a sin to not surrender!

A sea of adventures

The sea and the sunset - Manukan Island
Let the ocean and the sky enthral you. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

Go on a trip out to the ocean on a jet ski or sail away in a kayak. This tropical paradise will treat you to its breathtaking views. The more adventurous ones can flip into the sea with a banana boat ride, go sports fishing, diving, waterskiing, snorkelling, windsurfing or parasailing. You could also go on a day trip to explore nearby islands of Sappi, Gaya and Mamutik. For an adrenaline rush, you can opt for an exhilarating ‘Coral Flyer’ between Sapi and Gaya islands– which is the world’s longest island to island zipline.

A drama by ‘The sky and The Ocean’

Sunset at Manukan Island
Be moved by nature’s drama. Photo credits: Divya Prasad               

The holiest moments on an island are the sunrises and sunsets. Everything beautiful slips past between the two. Start your morning with a long walk around the island to witness the sunrise around 5.30 am. On evenings, a 45 km walk from the resort will lead you to an uphill curve, where you could indulge in a dramatic sunset hosted by the sky and the ocean. For those feeling like a beach bum, chill with a drink by Sutera’s deck and soak in the beauty.  Such serenity, it will be a moment to remember.

A memorable affair with the ocean is my take away from this journey. Manukan Island is often overlooked due to its simplicity, but it is Sabah’s untouched wonder. If a quiet retreat by the ocean away from the crowds is what you seek, Manukan is definitely worth a visit. I am grateful to Travel.Earth, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges and Sabah Tourism for this dreamy experience.

The south China sea as the backdrop to a selfie - Manukan Island
Goodbyes are a reason to meet again. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

The time had come to bid goodbye to this newfound love. I woke up to a tranquil morning in my charming villa, sharing my last words with the ocean. It was time to leave Manukan. There came the moment; I drifted away from the paradise and my heart whispered “Until we meet again”.

Getting there

A 15-minute boat ride can take you to Manukan from three major points of Kota Kinabalu – the Jesselton Point, the Sutera Harbour and the Star Marina. The boat service begins at 8 am and the last boat from Manukan leaves at 4.00 pm.

Where to stay
The deck of the beach cabin - Manukan Island Resort
Photo credits: Divya Prasad

Manukan Island Resort by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

A private island resort for a luxury indulgence. The Manukan Island Resort boasts a private beach overlooking the South China Sea. It is one of the finest places in Manukan to pamper yourself and unwind. They have a quirky café that serves meals all the day.

A platter of vegetarian food
Sutera satiated my vegetarian palette, which is unlikely in the land of seafood. Photo credits: Divya Prasad

The spacious beach-facing villas are spectacular and come with top-notch facilities. Just as any other properties of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, their hospitality is top-notch. They will ensure that their guests have a great time.

Reaching Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

The best way to reach Kota Kinabalu is by air. I recommend flying with Malindo Air. If you are unable to find a direct flight to Kota Kinabalu, you can reach Kuala Lumpur and then fly to Kota Kinabalu.

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