The best thing about staying in Kota Kinabalu is that the city is basically less than an hour away from all the major attractions, such as Tanjung Aru Beach, the Sabah State Museum, Gaya Street Sunday Market (open only on Sunday) and the beautiful islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park.
Our guide, Reynolds showing the guests the beauty that is Manukan Island
The Beautiful Twin Islands Hopping tour takes you to two of the most iconic islands on the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park -- Manukan and Sapi islands. The first stop for the island-hopping tour is Manukan Island, followed by a brief stop at Sapi Island for a sumptuous buffet lunch.
Located only 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu, with Sea Quest Jetty at Pacific Sutera Harbour, Manukan Island is one of the more popular tourist spots on Tunku Abdul Rahman Park simply because of its long stretch of white sandy beach, crystal clear water (depending on the weather) and it’s complete public amenities that offer a gamut of facilities from souvenir shops, beautiful chalet accommodations, clean toilets and changing rooms, as well as restaurants and convenient shops where visitors can purchase food, drinks and other necessities.
Given warm and dry weather during the days before, the water is exceptionally clear. You can watch as fishes frolic underwater. Nonetheless, the water can be quite murky if it had rained the day before. Keep this in mind should you plan to go diving or snorkeling.
In addition to snorkeling and diving, Manukan island also offers a wide range of watersport activities, such as parasailing, banana-boating, jet skiing, fish feeding, and more. Alternately, if your idea of a beach hangout is simply having a picnic or chilling with a book, you’ll be happy to find that there are ample shady trees fringing the beach.
For the trekking enthusiasts, you can also do some light jungle trekking along the trail at the back of the island. Be warned that you might be even have a shocking or delightful encounter with wildlife such as monkeys and monitor lizards. Therefore, keep alert at all times and be watchful of your belongings, especially when you have food with you! The cheeky monkeys are known to steal away treats if they spot any!
Jungle trekking trail up on the hill
When we’re done with frolicking in the water, it is already time for lunch. We pack our bags with our change of clothes for a shower at the public changing / restroom. The shower is, however, located outside the bathroom. Therefore, if you’re a bit shy about bathing outdoors clad in just your bikini, I’d suggest you bring a sarong for some cover-up.
For lunch, we are whisked to another island on the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, known as Sapi Island. Sapi Island is merely five to ten minutes’ boat ride away from Manukan Island. Albeit one of the smaller islands within the Marine Park, Sapi Island is still a favourite among tourists, offering plenty of nature experience with its unbelievable blue-green waters and surrounding greenery.
The charming Sapi Island
In addition to snorkeling and scuba diving, Sapi Island also offers a rare sea walking experience as well as the opportunity to zipline across the Coral Flyer, which is the longest island-to-island zipline in the world! Nevertheless, that is probably a story for another day, as all that swimming and peeking at fishes under the water has left us insanely famished.
The queue for the buffet lunch is normally very long, but worry not as the food are sufficiently refilled once they’re finished. We are treated to a wonderful fresh seafood lunch consisting of fried fish, sauteed local vegetables and helpings after helpings of white rice! Bon appetit!