Kota Kinabalu may be synonymous with its mountainous namesake, but there’s so much more to the capital of Sabah, Borneo. The city’s close proximity to beaches, islands, wildlife, and culture means that there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s how to make the most of one day in KK.
Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)
Manukan Island, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Manukan Island offers a variety of outdoor activities: Scuba divers can take advantage of the island’s diving center, while thrill seekers can go paragliding for birds-eye views of the archipelago. As the best developed island in the marine park, Manukan Island is a staple of island-hopping tours, which typically include round-trip transportation and give you free time to swim, snorkel, and hike on 2–4 of the park’s islands.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is an admission fee to enter the island, which helps fund conservation programs.
Bring water, sunscreen, bathing suits, and towels.
Vendors on the island offer snacks and amenities, but prices are steep.
Only a few vendors on Manukan Island accept credit cards, and there aren’t any ATMs on the island, so bring plenty of cash.
Manukan Island offers campsites, and you can also rent a beachfront chalet.
How to Get There
You can reach Manukan Island by boat from Jesselton Point, which is located just off the waterfront promenade in Kota Kinabalu. Motorized boats operated by several different companies depart regularly beginning the early morning. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes.
When to Get There
The weather on Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan) stays the same all year round. The island is most crowded from mid-morning until mid-afternoon. For a quiet visit, stay overnight, and you’ll feel like you have the place all to yourself after the day trippers depart.
Exploring the Islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is comprised of five islands, which include Sapi, Gaya, Manukan, Sulug, and Mamutik. All of the islands boast hiking trails and world-class snorkeling. One of the park’s highlights is the Coral Flyer Zipline, which connects the islands of Sapi and Gaya and is one of the longest island-to-island ziplines in the world.
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- Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)
- Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP)
- Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya)
- North Borneo Railway
- Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum)
- Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah)
- Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu)
- Signal Hill Observatory Platform
- Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre
- Monsopiad Cultural Village
- Mari Mari Cultural Village
- Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu)
- Kota Belud
- Kinabalu National Park
- Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)