We didn’t go to many beach destinations when we were in Borneo. I mean, with so many amazing cultural and wildlife experiences to be had, we just had no time for down time. That is, until we got to Kota Kinabalu. KK is the capitol city of Sabah and while KK doesn’t have any great beaches nearby, it is only a short boat ride to a couple of great islands.
There are several islands just off the coast of KK, that lie within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and they are easy to visit on a day trip from KK.
Sapi Island was the first island that we stopped at, and was definitely my favourite. A short 5 minute speed boat ride took us from the ferry terminal in KK to the jetty at Palau Sapi. The island is characterized by a wide sandy white beach, shallow warm clear water, and plenty of colourful fish.
This is a great place to come if you want to relax on the sand or do some shallow water snorkelling. You don’t have to swim out far to find fish here. The only down side of the island is that the fish are so friendly because some less Eco-conscious travellers feed them bread.
There are quite a few different restaurants on the island, that offer up buffet lunches and have tables under plenty of shade. Lunch and all you can drink juice and soda was included in our tour. There is also a small shop and convenience store if you want additional snacks or if you forget your sun screen.
Those craving a little more adventure might be interested in the underwater walk tour, where you can explore the underwater world without having a PADI certification. Or if you are after a little more excitement you can even zip line from Sapi island across the sea to Gaya island.
We spent most of the day at Sapi island, which was ideal as it was my favourite island. After several hours and a lunch break we decided to head off to Manukan Island. Manukan island is the most developed island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It is the one island where you can stay in a luxurious resort, all other islands only offer camping if they offer overnight stays at all.
The island has tons of facilities for the resort guests, but non guests are welcome to visit the island as well. The beach here is not as nice as the one at Sapi. There is a lot of rocky coral mixed in with the sand, making it a little rough on the feet. It still offered lots of snorkelling opportunities though. If you need a break from the beach, there is also a short jungle track which takes you from one end of the island to the other.