Island hopping day tour around Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah, Malaysia.

Trip Date — March 2012

Itinerary Notes & Tips

The wait

I stood alone at the corner outside Borneo Backpackers with my beach clothes on and ready to hop on the speedboat to the islands of Kota Kinabalu and spend the whole day under the sweltering sun.

I was there, waiting for three travelers that I met the day before and I was getting increasingly anxious because they might not have gotten my message that I wanted to join their island hopping tour.

Before we parted ways, I told them my plans of heading straight to Brunei. We stayed at different hostels. So, I could not tell them directly that I had changed my mind and deeply wanted to join them instead.

They seemed like cool people and I knew I would enjoy their company. I was bound to travel solo for the next three weeks and got excited with the thought of not feeling so alone at the start of my trip.

I took out my travel notes where I jotted down their phone number and sent an SMS before going to bed. I did not get any reply but I was seriously hoping that they received it anyways or that I would encounter them along the way to the ferry terminal.

I was so happy when I saw all three of ’em walking down the street from afar.

Boat Rental

We started walking towards Jesselton Port, where there were supposed to be a lot of boat operators offering round trip transfers to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park for RM17 for 1 island and +RM17 extra for each additional island.

Luckily, a tout approached us at KK Eslanade and offered RM140 for a speedboat charter to 4 islands (free snorkel and mask rental). Since there were 4 of us, we only had to pay RM35 per person. This was a cheaper and better deal since we had the boat all to ourselves for the whole day!

Island Hopping

There were excellent tourist facilities in the islands. Each had a pier with a beautifully designed reception area. We paid a RM10 (per person) environmental fee at our first island. This fee covered entry to all islands.

The tout said we were going to visit 4 islands but we only got to actually step foot in 3 and only passed by the last one.

The islands we visited were called Mamutik, Manukan, and Sapi. All three were beautiful but nothing exceptionally spectacular.

Mamutik had a decent snorkeling area.

We spent lunch at Manukan Island, where we found a cheap hawker style food stall. I ate Beef curry with rice (RM5).

Sapi Island was the most interesting out of the three. We followed an inland trail at Sapi, which took less than an hour.

The 4th island was called Gaya, the biggest of all islands at the national park. The boat did not dock at Gaya Island but we did get to see a huge stilt house village from afar.

Paid our boat operator RM20 because I lost the breathing tube of the snorkeling set I borrowed.

Great views of Kota Kinabalu urban skyline on the way back from the islands.