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Pulau Manukan Island Sabah

Pulau Manukan Island Sabah
Pulau Manukan or Manukan Island in Sabah is one of the most visited islands in the entire state of Malaysia Borneo or North Borneo.

The island is also known as Pulau Manukan in Malay, and is a mere 20 minutes by boat from the city of Kota Kinabalu.

Manukan Island is also part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TAR Park) which consist of four other islands, Gaya, Mamutik, Sapi and Sulug Islands.

Pulau Manukan Island

Boats to Manukan IslandBoat and ferry service

Pulau Manukan is easily accessible as it is just a 20 minute boat ride from any of the jetties in the capital of Kota Kinabalu.

The main jetties offering ferry services to the island are Jesselton Point/Jesselton Quay, Sutra Harbor and at Tanjung Aru.

If you are planning a round trip without a tour group, you can just go up to the various counters selling round trip tickets or packages with lunch and so on.

Entrance to Pulau ManukanPulau Manukan main entrance

On arrival at Pulau Manukan, you will see the main entrance where you need to pay a conservation fee of RM3.00 (US$0.85) at the counter before they allow you in.

This conservation fee goes to maintain of the Marine Park around the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. For foreign visitors, the entry price is RM10.00 per person.

Lovely walkways

Walking in, you will be greeted with a pretty well maintained walkway and some resort chalets on the left, which are part of the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.

For me, I walked straight to where the action was, which is the main beach area. Mind you it was a 500 meter walk in to the beach area from the entrance.

Manukan Island Bar CafeSands Bar at Pulau Manukan

Facilities at Manukan Island

Along the way, you will see a number of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and dive centers. The Sabah Parks Marine Headquarters are also located here in Pulau Manukan Island.

There are washrooms and shower facilities available for those who want to change or have a quick shower after swimming.

Beach at Pulau ManukanPulau Manukan Beach

Heading to the beach here at Manukan Island, I was surprised to see the number of people enjoying themselves. There must have been about 200-300 people all over the place.

I guess the reason for this is that Pulau Manukan has one of the best snorkeling sites among all of the 5 islands in the TAR Marine Park.

Since I had charted the entire boat for my island hopping I had all the time in the world, so I started to explore Manukan Island and what else did they offer.

I must say that the place is rather nice with well maintained facilities and landscaping. Place was clean and trees were beautifully grown to shade most of the areas.

Beach Restaurants Manukan Island Restaurant along pathway

One of the main restaurants lined the walkway with their wooden tables and chairs complete with hanging lights for a romantic beach dinner.

The prices here are a little higher than what you will find in Kota Kinabalu, but then again, you should expect this as it is a tourist spot.

Busy day at Manukan IslandPopular tour package area

Don't be surprised when you see loads of people crammed up at parts of the beach as these are large tour groups who have special lunches or meals with their Manukan Packages.

Some of the packages even offer a beach BBQ package. Not to worry as if you are not in the package tour group, you can just visit the proper restaurants away from the main area.

Fine dining restaurant on Manukan Island

There are about 3 restaurants there and one Seafood BBQ area. Of the restaurants, they serve out local and western cuisines so everyone is happy.

They are not your local coffee shop cum cafe style as they are more of the proper restaurants. So food is no worry when you are in Manukan Island.

World War 2 Bombs SabahWorld War II Bombs on display

I came across a chair displaying some old World War Two bomb shells all arranged nicely but looking really dated with the rust.

The paved walkway apparently is about 1.5 km long which takes you all the way to a lookout point at the other end of Pulau Manukan.

Private Beach Pulau Manukan IslandPrivate beach area

If you walk the other way when you arrive at Pulau Manukan (meaning take a left after you pay the entrance fees) you will come to a more quiet part of the island.

This part of the beach is apparently exclusive for the Sutera Sanctuary Hotel Lodges. So, I guess the reason no one was here is because it was a private beach.

Manukan Island Exhibition Hall

There is an exhibition hall which displays some interesting marine items like corals, skeletons of various sea fishes, dugong, crabs and even a whale head.

This educational center is opened from Tuesdays to Sundays and from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, and is managed by Sabah Parks. Admission is free for everyone too.

Beach at ManukanManukan beach

Manukan Island Beach

The beaches at the eastern tip here are considered one of the best. However, the southern coastline where everyone goes is the most popular area.

Take note as the main beach here will be crowded with a lot of China and Korean tourist, so you can decide on which part of the island you want to visit.

The island also has some hiking trails. Overall, if you like snorkeling or sunbathing, then Manukan is one of the places you should visit for a day trip.

Souvenir Shop at Pulau ManukanSouvenir Shop

On my past visits to Manukan Island, I had some work so I did not photograph the place well plus the weather was not too good. Only on my 3rd visit, I did get a chance to take more pictures.

Anyway, I was chased away by the weather once more. So, from my experience visiting this place I find that if you are up to making a quick trip here, do it after lunch and do some snorkeling.

Well, what I did was I rented a boat to take me around all the islands at the TAR Park. It took me a good 4 hours but was very worth it.

Prices for boat charter would cost anywhere around RM300 (US$85) for about 2-3 hours. But do inquire when you are there.

Manukan Island Entrance Fees;
  • Foreigners - RM10.00 (US$2.85)
  • Malaysians - RM3.00
Boat Trips to Pulau Manukan Island (estimates as of 2009);
  • Jesselton Point/Quay - RM18.00 (20 minutes)
  • Tanjung Aru Harbour - RM40-RM45 (10 minutes)
  • Sutera Harbour - RM35 to RM45 (15 minutes)
  • Be careful of ticket touts selling super cheap tickets
Facilities Include;
  • Marine Museum
  • Camping Ground
  • Tennis Court
  • Soccer Field
  • Jogging Track
  • Cycling Track
  • Various Sea Sports
  • Swimming Pool
  • Chalets
  • Restaurants and Cafes
  • Souvenir Shop
  • Fish Feeding
Best Time to visit Pulau Manukan

The best time to visit Manukan Island is after lunch, as most of the tourist would be leaving back for mainland after the lunch package tour to Manukan Island.

It is less crowded and snorkeling would be fun with not so many people kicking in your direction. The last boat usually leaves Manukan around 5.00 pm, so you should plan your time well.

If you want to take nice photographs, then I recommend you come as early as possible as you may be able to even photograph Mount Kinabalu in the distance.

For photography, the mornings here are much better as the skies tend to have beautiful clouds and blue skies.

But if you buy a standard package, they will usually send you before lunch time, with the other hundreds of people.

Manukan Island on a quiet day
If you are planning to stay here, you can also read my other review of Manukan Island Resort. Take note the review was done in 2009, and they have renovated and upgraded the resort since then.

If you find Manukan a little too crowded, you can also pay a visit to Sapi Island or Pulau Sapi. A number of visitors tend to come here due to lesser crowds.

And for anyone who plans to explore other islands, you can check out my article on 11 Islands to visit around Malaysia.


Overall I have visited this beautiful island about 8 times from 2006 to 2009, and I never get fed up of Manukan Island.

Sometimes I kind of get a unique feeling to know that beautiful islands like this still exist just outside of cities, and Pulau Manukan is just one of them. 


shloke said...

Congrats David! I saw your wonderful article about Pulau Rawa - The Paradise Island published in The New Straits Times Paper!

Keep up the good work!

By the way, thanks for filling up the survey form :)

Another well written travel guide about Pulau Manukan! Kind of reminds me of my trip to Langkawi. Lush and beautiful settings.

Whoah! You charted the entire boat for one person? RM300? That's expensive.


yoon see said...

Congrats and I also read your published entry in The New Strait Times.
I really love what I see and read here.
I hope visiting to all these places is not a dream for me:)

There is a game on my blog, hope you will enjoy playing it!

ai wei said...

congrates congrates!

hope to visit to sabah one day. the pulau pulau are sooooo beautiful

fufu said...

i only went to sapi island... >< will explore more when i go to sabah again =p

Malaysia Asia said...

Mylo, thanks and no worries about the survey. And yes, there were 2 of us, so we rented the boat to visit all the islands. We did this at Redang, Perhentian and also Tioman.

Yoon See, thank you very much. I will check out your game.

Ai Wei, thank you and yes, islands in Sabah are really beautiful. The ones at Sipidan are more beautiful.

Fufu, nice. At least you went to one of them. Next time check out the others. If you have time and dive, you should check out Mantanini Island.


eunice said...

wow what an informative post. I've just blogged about Manukan but not done as well as yours! :D

So you went there during weekend? Cos I can see many people in your photos. When we were there on weekday (Tues), there were not many people.

Malaysia Asia said...

Eunice, thank you for the kind nice words. For this posting, I was there on a weekend but I have been there on a few occasions, weekday and also during a storm.


s t a b i l z said...

Hye David.. I am going there alone.. So is there any locker to put my stuffs inside while I snorkel around the beaches?


Malaysia Asia said...

Hello Stabilz, I don't recall lockers there but you need to check with the restaurant/souvenir shop there about this. Anyway, hope you have a fantastic time there.


Anonymous said...

Manukan island is a popular destination. I was there in 2003 when I was holidaying in KK.

v4vendetta said...

Hi David, I am a newcomer here and I have been reading your impressive articles on vacation spots. I need your advice, here is the situation: I bought a ticket to KK for the first weekend of July but haven't found a place to stay yet. My girlfriend really wants to find a place near a good beach, which is our main purpose of going to KK. Im really interested in the Manukan resort but it seems too pricey for my budget. Any other places you think we can stay at? or is there a secret discount at manukan perhaps?
I am open to other islands/towns near KK. Desperate for help!

Malaysia Asia said...

Mei, I love going back there everytime I visit KK.

vforVendetta - Ok, the best possible option for you would be to stay at one of the normal hotels in KK town. From here, you can simply hop on the ferries to Manukan for a day trip as and when you like. The prices of hotels in KK town range from RM50-200 so depending on your budget.

There are some really nice hotels to choose in town too. Just google hotels in KK, try booking.com or agoda.com


v4vendetta said...

thank you so much!!!

Anonymous said...

hi David. I am not a swimmer myself but I would like to try snorkeling in one of the islands. Which island would you recommend for me? Pulau Manukan or Sapi?

Malaysia Asia said...

Vendetta, no worries.

Anon - Well, they both have similar underwater life so doesn't really matter. But in any case, Manukan is easier.


Anonymous said...

Hi David,
i would like to go Pulau Manukan the end of the year 2010 to celebrate my birthday there.
But i need more information from you, if you dont mind, to telling me how to get there from Kota Kinabalu town( ^,~ I am from Sarawak and currently working in Kuala Lumpur) ?
By the way, how about the room rate? I mean, hotel or resort?
Thank you so much, David.
Wish to hear from you very soon!

Ko Chi Soon
Maluri, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Asia said...

Chi Soon, thanks for the message. There are hourly ferry services from Sutera Harbor or from Jesselton Pier in Kota Kinabalu. For room information on Manukan, see my other article here - http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2009/11/manukan-island-resort-at-pulau-manukan.html


hazel darwisya said...

I've been to Manukan once! Have a great time snorkeling there! Would like to got there again, for sure!

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Just wanted to whether is there anyway we can charter a boat from the boatman himself? i believe it would be cheaper. we are going to kk this december around 10pax of us. if there is where can we get the boatman.


cheryl said...

Hi David,

Tq so much for the reviews on manukan as well as sapi island. I'm going this Thursday with 3 of my friends, and manukan island is definitely one of my to see list.

Would you be able to recommend the places that i should not missed during my visit here.


Malaysia Asia said...

Cheryl, apart from Manukan, I would strongly suggest you see Pulau Sapi - http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2010/07/pulau-sapi-island-in-sabah.html

Around KK, if you have time, visit the MAri Mari Cultural Village - http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2010/07/mari-mari-cultural-village-in-sabah.html

For more, check my Sabah listings - http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/search/label/Malaysia%20-%20Sabah

Other than that, just explore KK and enjoy!

Gladys said...

Hie there David, would like to know is there an age limit for the boat ride to the islands? Planning to bring my 8-month old baby to kk.. Thanx~

Malaysia Asia said...

Gladys, I think there is no limit. The main thing is to have the life vest on. Boat rides to Manukan take about 15-20 minutes too.