Snorkeling, Kota Kinabalu
I had a full day left in Kota Kinabalu before heading back to mainland Malaysia and decided I would give snorkelling another try, this time at Pulau Sapi. After a disappointing venture to Pulau Manukan where the coral and fish were basically non-existent, I didn't hold high hopes.
I was to be pleasantly surprised.
Arriving on Pulau Sapi, I headed to the least populated section of the beach. The water was warm and visibility was good. I swam out to the extent of the snorkel line and found large numbers of fish, huge clams and some healthy coral. Perhaps because this section of beach was less populated and the water was slightly deeper, there was a healthy environment beneath the surface.
The morning sun was positioned perfectly for excellent visibility, and while it was obvious that the fish in the shallows expected to be fed on bread supplied by snorkellers, those in the deeper water appeared to living as if in a normal environment.
Well worth the trip!
Address: Pulau Sapi
Directions: Fifteen minute biat ride from Jesselton Point.
I entered the madness of the ticket-selling counters at Jessleton Point and said I wanted to go snorkelling for a few hours - easy done, it was suggested that I go to Pulau Manukan. I had my own snorkelling gear so the cost for a return ticket was 24 RM plus 7RM for harbour tax.
I walked to the end of the jetty and was told a boat was leaving in five minutes. After a 15 minute ride, we arrived at Pulau Manukan pier. The water looked beautiful.
Entry onto the island (or into Tunku Abdul Rhaman Park) was 10 RM - this was fine although I hadn't been told this back at Jesselton Point.
I found a relatively quiet spot on the beach, within the designated snorkelling area but away from the crowds.
The water was an ideal temperature for snorkelling, but what a disappointment. Clearly the bulk of the coral had been trampled to death. The small number of fish struggled for sustainance, and the only living things thriving were sea slugs and evil-looking black urchins.
I was glad that I hadn't spent the money to stay on the island.
Directions: Boats leave frequently from Jessleton Point pier.
Number two activity in Kota Kinabalu in order of importance (for those who are not madly in love with shopping) is snorkelling in search of your next aquarium fish acquisitions. Poor Kota itself is sadly deprived of beaches and the downtown area is dominated by a thriving commercial port. This is all wonderful but in the sweaty tropics the visitors are inclined to dip in water and being entertained in the process would be a marvellous bonus. So what Kota does is offers cheap boat rides to off-shore islands that have all the ingredients for a blissful daytrip. The beaches are fine, mind you a bit overcrowded for my taste and the reefs are teaming with fish. Equipment is offered for rent and there are refreshments as well. The only side that needs improvement is the toilets but this is a small price to pay for the package. Snorkelling is wonderful just off the beach with rocks teeming with exuberantly colourful fish of the kind that one might expect in an aquarium and there is nothing wrong with this perception since the fish DOES arrive from locations like this one. The difference in this case is of course the fact that you are literally immersed in it and the fish is rather large just like the “aquarium” it swims in.
You must take a trip out to the furthest island in the Marine park of KK. There is a beautiful bay with a living coral about 10 - 20 metres out. We spent many happy hours swimming about trying to identify all the interesting marine life.
Directions: Take a boat from Jessleton Pier, the ticket sellers are really friendly and if you explain what you want to do they'll make sure you get dropped off and picked up. They'll also hire you buoyancy aids, snorkels and fins for you use.
The crystal clear water and friendly fishes may make your snorkelling experience a memorable one. Eventhough the fishes are not as many as in Redang Island but hey.. it's not disappointing though!
Address: Manukan Island
Directions: Kota Kinabalu