Pulau Manukan Island Sabah Borneo

Pulau Manukan Island Sabah

Pulau Manukan or Manukan Island in Sabah is one of the most visited islands in the entire state. Also known as Pulau Manukan in Malay, this island resort attracts hundreds of island hoppers or beach goers daily. 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.

Manukan Island SabahBoat and ferry service

Pulau Manukan is easily accessible as it is just a 10-20 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.

Pulau 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 foreigners, the 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. These are part of the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. I walked right to where the action was. Mind you it was a 500 meter walk in to the beach area from the entrance.

Sands Bar at Pulau Manukan

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 also showers available for those who want to change.

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.

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. Prices are a little higher than usual if you should know.

Popular 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 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 1.5km 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.

Quiet beach after lunch

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. Place is opened from Tuesdays to Sundays and from 9am to 3pm. The exhibition hall is managed by Sabah Parks and admission is free.

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

Souvenir 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 available at Pulau Manukan;
  • 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:

Try to go after lunch (around 2pm) as most of the tourist would be leaving back for mainland after the lunch packaged 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 5pm. So take note.

You can also read my other review on Manukan Island Resort and also my story of  Sapi Island or Pulau Sapi. Also check out my article on 11 Islands to visit around Malaysia for 2011.

Overall I have visited this beautiful island off KK about 8 times in the last 3 years. I never get fed up of this place as it is such a unique feeling to know that beautiful islands still exist just outside of cities and one of them is Pulau Manukan Island in Sabah Borneo.