In Kota Kinabalu, the simplest island to hop around has to be the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. It is a cluster of islands comprising Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Sulug, all only 15-20 minute speedboat ride from the city of Kota Kinabalu. The five islands of the Marine Park are characterized by superb coral gardens , shallow waters and all boast splendid white sandy beaches. The most popular among these islands are Sapi, Manukan and Mamutik.
The ticket center is like a terminal, with many ticket booths offering tour, to choose from. Package rates seem to be same for all though, boat fare for each island costs 17 RM and additional terminal fee and conservation fee amounting to RM 7 and RM 10 respectively for the whole park. This fee includes a return trip. We chose Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi and Sulug or Padang Point Island.
Pulau Sulug is the farthest of the islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It is covered with dense virgin tropical forest. During our time here, we saw 2 big monitor lizards and a monkey. Pulau Sulug has hiking trails and small sized resorts of which one is home to the Marine Ecology Research Centre.
Pulau Manukan is the second largest and the most popular among the islands. It has the most developed facilities, including nice villas, swimming pool, restaurants, tennis court and soccer field. This island has the highest number of visitors and has the longest stretch of beaches amongst the rest of the islands. There are plenty of coral reefs for interested divers and you can also get your certification here.
This is the most convenient one to visit, as it is the nearest island from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. Pulau Mamutik is the smallest island on this park. Despite its size, it has good beaches and offshore with excellent coral reefs. Compared to Pulau Manukan, the facilities here is quite basic.
Pulau Sapi has one of the nicest beach in this park. The crystal clear water and clean white sand and coral reefs fringing the shoreline makes it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. According to some, there are crab-eating monkeys on the island. I was able to see the magnificent white-bellied sea eagle soaring through the sky.
Pulau Gaya is the largest island in Tunku Rahman Marine Park. The name 'Gaya' is derived from the Bajau word 'Gayo' which mean big. It's also host a large stilt village located just opposite the Kota Kinabalu waterfront.
If you have any plans of going to Kota Kinabalu, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is one of the must visit. It is very accessible via 15-20 minutes speedboat ride from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal which is beside Malaysia Royal Custom Department. Boat transfers to the islands are available daily from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM.