Saturday, January 22, 2011

Marine attractions of Manukan Island

The entrance welcomes visitors to Manukan Island

Manukan Island, always popular with tourists

Wooden chalets on the island

Starfish found in the island

A tourist playing with the fishes

A yacht docking at Jesselton

Bombs and shells on display at WWII memorial at Manukan Island

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to AK and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, is the city capital of Sabah. A popular tourist's getaway and a major gateway into Sabah and Asia, it boasts an admirable collection of beautiful islands.

Charming and alluring Manukan Island or Pulau Manukan is one of the more famous ones. A 20-minute boat ride from Jesselton Point, it is the more popular islands in Sabah due to the attraction of its white sandy beaches and rich hued waters teeming with marine life. The abundance of corals and availability of water sports makes this a premiere destination for island hopping in Sabah.

Manukan Island is part of the chain of islands that makes up Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Sabah, Malaysia. The boat ride would costs around RM20 - 35 and can accommodate 10 people, so if you're in a group that's less than the quorum, be prepared to wait a while until 10 people sign up.

The boat that takes you to the island is a modern speed boat and it easily navigates through the clear waters towards the island of your choice. The boat have a mixture of travellers from all over the world and the early morning skies are perfect when headed towards Pulau Manukan.

Snorkels can be rented from the boat operator at around RM15. The boats that are allowed to dock at Pulau Manukan have to be registered with Sabah Parks and are required to meet safety requirements, eg, life jackets must be worn during the journey.

The waterfront of Kota Kinabalu zips by as the boat departs and there is a constant wind from the speed of the boat blowing at you. The boat occasionally runs into waves so splashes of water into the boat are pretty common.

The lush green island soon comes into view as the boat slows down to dock at the Pulau Manukan Island. The natural beauty of the island is apparent - calm, green waters with a diverse amount of fishes swimming around and white, sandy beaches at the fringe with deep green lush trees lining the island.

The rich marine life on Manukan Island is apparent as we disembarked from the boat - the high tide submerges the lower part of the jetty and people can be seen feeding the fishes with pieces of bread.

The island is a protected zone so no fishing or harming of the marine life is permitted. This allows the fish to breed in abundance and they're quite friendly and unafraid of human contact.

Pulau Manukan has chalets for overnight stays but most people come here just to relax and enjoy the natural offerings of the island on a day trip. The red buoys bobbing around the perimeter extending 100 metres out from the beach are designated swimming areas.

There is a lot of boat traffic outside that demarcation and the speed boats carrying island visitors frequently passes very close to the line so it is a good idea to keep inside the perimeter. The Manukan Island pier is a wooden catwalk hovering over the vibrant green waters and the natural tranquility of the island is palpable as you walk towards the beach.

There is a "Welcome to Pulau Manukan" sign at the end of the pier and a RM3 conservation fee is to be paid at the booth before entry to the beach is permitted.

The chalets nest in lush greenery greet you as you first step on the beach. The polished wooden chalets look perfectly in place on the island, due to the matching theme and decor of the architecture.

There are lifeguard posts located at the beach should the need arise and in case of emergency. If you try snorkelling, one can see many different multi-coloured fishes, taking bites out of pieces of bread, occasionally nipping at your fingers. Sea cucumbers of all sizes lining the seabed and starfishes and corals of mind-boggling variety and complexity intensify the whole experience. The scenic islands surrounding Manukan Island are easily visible from the shore and saying that the island is beautiful is simply a big understatement.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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