Island Hopping in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Sabah is the best place to go island hopping, having so many islands that are still pretty natural thanks to conservation efforts. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is one of the most accessible and popular ones within Kota Kinabalu town. The Park is created to protect the environment of 5 islands, Manukan, Mamutik, Gaya, Sapi and Sulug. The Park entrance at the jetty called Jesselton Point is up north of the town. We parked our rented Kancil under a shady tree to avoid paying for parking fees.


Entering the ticketing area, we found a blood donation drive going on. There were many counters all promoting island packages. It’s up to customers to pick and choose which counter you like. We just walk up to one and looked at their packages. It is not really logical to hop to all 5 islands, it would have been like jump down from the boat, touch the water and wait for the next boat already. Therefore, we chose to go only 2, Manukan first and then Mamutik. Manukan is a bigger island, and seemed to be more developed, with more things to see besides swimming. But basically, it’s a great place for swimming in clear blue sea water. While Mamutik is better for snorkeling and checking out the endangered corals and fishes.


For two islands, it’s about RM27 + RM6 tariff, and at the island entrance, you pay another RM3 for conservation fees. This is paid only at one island and keep the ticket for the next island. The boat ride is rough. It was like riding on a roller coaster with sea water splashing. Some of the tourists were screaming away.
The island itself was beautiful, it has the largest beach area and stretch of sand amongst the five islands. I didn’t see any corals here, but at the jetty area, you can feed the fish and swim with them. The fishes are very not afraid of humans, in fact some like to play it naughty and poke at us.

Monitor Lizards are common on these islands, they walk around with stomaches touching the ground like kings. Nobody touches them.


We had a simple lunch on Manukan before heading to Mamutik for some snorkeling. Food here isn’t cheap at all. RM5 for this. You can opt for BBQ lobsters and such at 10 times the price, but we wanted to go Salut in the evening, so a simple lunch would do.

We headed back to the Jetty to wait for the boat that agreed to bring us to Mamutik. After half an hour it wasn’t there. Now, the arranging for boats to take you require a lot of initiative. If you just sit at the Jetty and not ask around, non of the boats would actually stop to ask you where you’re headed. Every boat that comes we have to ask whether it is the one bringing us, as it might not be the same boat driver. After making some calls back to the guy who sold us the ticket only did our boat arrive.
If you’re going snorkeling, it is advisable to rent the gear and life jacket on board, as it will be much more expensive on the island. Even better if you bought and brought your own, as these are not expensive stuff. Without the snorkel gear, it is virtually impossible to enjoy the under water beauty.

Some people snorkel until they got caught in the lines. These lines separates humans from the jelly fish maybe? At Mamutik you have to swim quite far out to be able to enjoy the beauty of underwater fishes and corals. I saw all kinds of colourful fishes and they were amazing.

All kinds of water sports and activities are available on these islands. Once you touch the beach, there will be ‘salesmen’ approaching you to sign up for these, they tend to come at a hefty price tag too. This man chose to fly.


By 3pm we decided to head back to mainland. It was only a while but I was totally sunburned. It didn’t even feel scorching. Sabah sun is merciless. Up till today, more than one month later, I still have the sunburned colour on my body.

5 Responses to Island Hopping in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

  1. Hi Leona,

    I will be going to KK this May, I have a few question, hope you can help out

    1) how much is the rental fees for snorkelling gear (google+ life jacket+ flipper) and where should i get it since it’s was expensive to rent on the island? Jetty got any rental for this?

    2) How is the 2 island snorkelling experience? i view a few blogger website, some claim many coral has die off.. not much fish…. Which island give you the best experience on snorkelling?

    Thanks a lot!!

  2. Hi there, you can rent those stuff on the boat on your way there, plus the life jacket. I can’t remember exact price, but should be less than 20. Mamutik was for me, better for snorkeling, just that you have to be daring to swim a bit further out. There are still a lot of coral and fishes there where it’s deeper. Manukan is nice just for hanging out a bit and other activities, and if you wanna eat there, they have the island bbq.

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