Island Hopping and the Secret Spot on Mamutik
You’d be crazy to visit Kota Kinabalu and not go island hopping – it’s cheap, and you get to visit some of what I honestly think are Malaysia’s best beaches!
On my second day in KK, I headed out to the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park with a new-found friend I’d just met the night before! The Park consists of a group of five islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sulug, Mamutik and Sapi) which you could technically visit all in one day if you wanted, but all that rushing around would defeat the whole purpose of doing nothing and baking in the sun 🙂 So again, I took Jacqkie‘s suggestions and picked two islands – Mamutik and Sapi!
This is Jesselton Point, where you’ll begin your island hopping trip. The price of your trip will depend on how many islands you want to visit – it starts at RM 23 for one island, RM 33 for two islands, RM 43 for three islands, and so on. You can also rent snorkeling gear and life jackets at an extra cost, and you also get the option to book water sports activities and scuba diving sessions as well.
The boats leave every hour and start going out as early as 8am, so if you want to beat the crowds, that’s the best time to do it! If you’ve chosen to visit more than one island, they’ll tell you what time to catch the boat transfer to the next island at the time of booking. But no matter where you are, just remember to catch the last boat back at 4pm.
So off we went at about 10am, and 15 minutes later, we were at Pulau Mamutik!
Mamutik is a pretty small island, but there’s enough beach for everyone. There are the tourist groups which manage to generate an amazing amount of noise, but all you have to do is be willing to walk a bit further (like, literally maybe just 50m further), and you can leave most of the noise behind.
Head towards the stretch of beach on the left after you disembark from the pier to get to this relatively peaceful patch of beach. And this awesome hammock too 🙂
As tempting as it is to stay on the beach forever, I’d suggest not doing that, because you’ll be missing out on my favourite part of Pulau Mamutik!
Around this stretch of beach on the left of the pier that I mentioned, you’ll see this sign pointing towards a mighty dodgy-looking trail leading into the woods. And I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t follow it. But you totally should, because you won’t regret it.
When we had just over half an hour left on the island, my friend Emily suggested following the trail to see where it leads. So off we went!
It’s not one of those wide, paved, roads on flat ground where you just stroll all the way – it’s a legit trail where there are slightly steep stretches, and a few spots where you might wanna hang on to the rope “railings” provided to stay on the trail and not go tumbling down the hills. But that didn’t stop us from charging on in our flip flops 😛
So after about five minutes, you’ll notice that you can’t hear the sounds of the beach crowds anymore, and you’ll come to your first fork in the road, which just leads to a dead end.
You can see the sea through the trees! Close, but not the view you’re looking for.
Keep walking, and five minutes later, you’ll get to another fork in the road – the path on the left leading downhill, and the path on the right leading uphill. Take the one on the left, and it’ll eventually lead you to this.
Tadahh! Jump in 😀
Lesson learned: always take the road less traveled 😉 This secret spot had water clearer and cooler than any other spot on the island we’d seen, and we had the whole place to ourselves!
Regretfully, we had to leave after about 15 minutes of swimming and hanging from the low branches, because we had to catch the next boat to Pulau Sapi 😦
Watch out for the little fishies hanging around the pier when you get to Sapi! 🙂
I much preferred the vibes of Mamutik over Sapi, because Sapi was considerably larger, and played host to a lot more tourists – there was this whole area under the trees with rows of banquet tables next to some barbecue grills where some epic lunchtime was going on.
More tourists o.O
Oh yeah, you’ll see quite a few of these fellas when you’re on Sapi too 😛 The ones you’ll see are probably those kept in a pen near the banquet tables, but I saw a couple of them out in the wild too.
As with the other islands, it’s not impossible to find a quieter spot on Sapi.
There’s strangely always one stretch of beach where all the people are clustered at, so just walk a little further to find that little spot you can call your own for a few hours. Which I did, and promptly fell asleep for a loooong time before dragging myself up for a spot of snorkeling 😛
If you really want to do something different and get away from the beach though, you can always go hiking – there’s a trail, just like on Mamutik.
Sapi is bigger than Mamutik though, so it’ll take about an hour to make a full round trip, and the trail is considerably more “jungle-y” than the one on Mamutik (it smelt more jungle-y too). According to a trail map we saw on the way in, following the trail will lead you to a “sunset spot”, which… is kinda useless unless you’ve chartered your own boat to go island hopping I think, because the last boat leaves before sunset anyway.
So that’s it for my KK island hopping trip!
Bonus tip: After your island hopping trip, or actually whenever you have the opportunity to, head down to the Suria Sabah mall just about a 10-minute walk away from Jesselton Point. You can catch the sunset from the food court there!
Who says you gotta be at the waterfront to get an amazing view? 😉
Next, I’ll be resuming my updates from Santorini!