Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kota Kinabalu Islands - Take a walk on the wild side

Just a 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah in Eastern Malaysia, aka Malaysian Borneo, exists a tropical paradise. Mouth-watering barbecues, beautifully clean seas and wide, open spaces are just a few of the perks of an afternoon's island-hopping.

The five islands off Kota Kinabalu, and the surrounding waters and coral reefs form the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Established in 1974, and named after Malaysia's first prime minister, the park is the visual embodiment of bliss with rich sedimentary rocks, virgin tropical forests and the most spectacular views of Kota Kinabalu's skyline.

The islands have many cliffs and caves, and are honeycombed with deep crevasses along their shores. For reality television buffs, this has been the breathtaking setting of many broadcast adventures including the Amazing Race Asia 4 and Survivor Borneo, which was filmed on the nearby Tiga Island.

The islands are a popular destination all year round, for both locals and foreign visitors who are attracted by the area's crystal clear waters, with fish and coral reefs often visible not far from the shore. This has made the islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu a mecca for snorkellers and divers, and hiking and parasailing are other popular activities.

Visitors can get to the islands from Kota Kinabalu's ferry terminal at Jesselton Point, named after a former trading settlement dating back to 1882. Ferries stop at each of the five islands regularly throughout the day. Passengers prone to seasickness should beware - lambat (slow) may be an important word to remember to tell your boat's driver at the start of your trip, otherwise he's likely to take you on an amusement park ride. Also, bring a plastic bag for your belongings; a large amount of water is likely to splash inside the boat. Pulau Gaya, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Sulug are an interesting mix of uninhabited forests and heavily-developed areas.

Pulau Sapi, or Cow Island, is a perfect example. During the day, the island is busy with sunbathing tourists, but after the last ferry leaves at around 4pm it becomes very quiet.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kota Kinabalu Islands - Take a walk on the wild side
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