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Mamutik Island of Sabah, Malaysia

Mamutik Island (Pulau Mamutik)

Tourists to Kota Kinabalu City (KK) always ask, out of the five islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP), which one is recommended. My answer is – if you expect a famous and exciting tourist destination, go for Sapi or Manukan. But if you only want a quiet beach to laze around and unwind, Mamutik Island (Pulau Mamutik) is a small island with big space.

Mamutik Island (Pulau Mamutik)
Pic: Mamutik Island, looks like a crocodile head isn’t it?

People who want to avoid the crowd will love Mamutik Island, as it is less touristy than Sapi and Manukan, the islands where they would see more people than fishes, and human noise is louder than splashing waves. Being the smallest island of TARP, Mamutik is like an unsophisticated child who doesn’t try to impress you, it may not have charming personality but you feel more open up and relax.

beach of Mamutik near the jetty
Mamutik is rated by some tourists as an average island because of three reasons. First, the sea there is quite rough and water turns murky sometimes. Second, the strong waves wash many coral fragments to the shore. Stepping on this jagged surface can be a discomfort to sensitive feet. Last, the density and variety of corals isn’t great. All of the above are true.

swarm of anchovy fishes under the jetty
Pic: school of anchovy fishes (ikan bilis) at the jetty

However, Mamutik still has one of the most beautiful beaches near KK and its photo is good enough to be used as postcard. Though lack of WOW factor, Mamutik isn’t lack of happy customers who appreciate the ambience of tranquillity and privacy offered by this less-crowded island.

The following is a HD video that gives you an overview of Mamutik:

The Beaches

Mamutik Island has long stretch of white sandy beach about 200 Meters in length. The sea can be choppy occassionally and the water is getting deep after 10 Meters from shore, so be careful if you don’t know how to swim.

white sandy beach of Mamutik Island
Pic: note the darker area of the sea, it’s the color of deeper water

girls taking photo in water
Every visitor can get a big share of space, swim freely and won’t collide with others (but watch out for jellyfish). Without many eyes around, tourists here behave relatively more relax.

tourists at the beach of Pulau Mamutik

beach of Mamutik Island
However, the visitors seem to congregate in one or two places. Probably they feel safer to stay near to one another, or these places are near to toilet. Anyway, there are some sections that has few or no tourist, so feel free to pick a zone as your “private beach”.

family walking on the beach

tourists taking photos
Move further away from people, you can find many good photography spots with clean background, as if you are on a remote island. Most coral fragments are concentrated in the water. The beach is still mainly fine sandy beach that is nice to walk on.

crystal clear water of Mamutik
Pic: You can count the number of tourists here by fingers. If we are willing to pay more for bigger hotel room, the ample personal space in Mamutik is a great value, isn’t it?

private beach of Mamutik
If you go to the east side of Mamutik, there is a more secluded area very well-shaded by tall casuarina trees. The beach chairs are reserved for the hotel guests from Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort. The place is quite cooling and suitable for chilling out after a swim under hot sun. You may walk or snorkel at the beach there but please keep your voice down. The staff would ask noisy outsiders to leave.

beach covered with coral fragments
The sea waves at east side is even stronger because it is where open ocean current passing by the island. I call it a “Coral Beach” because the beach here is covered by bigger pieces of coral fragments. I even found giant clam shell once. Probably that’s how Mamutik got its name which means “shell collection”. (Note: collecting shell and anything is forbidden in this protected marine park)

bikini girl on the beach

walking on coral beach
Walking on the coral fragments with barefoot isn’t too bad. Just take it as a reflexology walking therapy lol. My feet have thick skin so it doesn’t hurt at all. You can wear slipper if it’s a problem.

coral beach
The coral beach is quite well-kept to near pristine state since it’s a semi-private area. Turtles know it. On 26 Dec 2009, a hawksbill turtle landed on this beach to lay its eggs. It’s a good sign that turtles are coming back. We still face a lot of challenges to conserve them due to increasing plastic garbage in our sea.

rocky beach of Mamutik
FYI, if you explore further to the edge of the beach at west side, you will come to a rocky beach with nice view. The rocks in the water is slippery so be cautious when you walk on them.

beach with rocks and boulders
Mamutik Island is located in the center of TARP, so you can see four other islands clearly from there. In the past, all five islands were part of the mainland. After Ice-Age ended, they were disconnected from mainland about 1 million years ago.

A City Island

Mamutik Island is the second nearest island to KK, so you can have a good view of our city only 3 KM away. Though travellers were away from the city, some can’t take city totally out of their mind.

girl looking at the sea
On Mamutik, I always see people sitting and staring at the sea and city for a long time, or look at the planes flying in and out of KK International Airport. I wonder what’s in their mind. Were they thinking about their relationship, work, future or nothing? Whatever, Mamutik is a good place for daydreaming.

girl walking in the sea
Oh by the way, since Mamutik is nearer to city, your phone may have good access to 3G network (Celcom seems to have the best coverage here).


Besides sunbathing and swimming at Mamutik, snorkelling is an enjoyable way to see the underwater world. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with the experience. Compared to other islands, the variety of corals here isn’t so good (but not bad).

boulder corals
The best location to go snorkelling is the sea in front of the coral beach (another best spot is near rocky beach at the west side). The visibility is ok (about 5 Meters). That area is dominated by brain and boulder corals. They are quite abundant and big in size, often in yellow or brown color. Some have tubeworms (or Xmas Tree Worm) live in them. The most beautiful coral is the purple color Porites coral (see photo above). Not many soft corals are found though.

snorkelling in Mamutik
It’s cool that I found plenty of fishes even in shallow water. I even saw a lonely barracuda. The variety of fishes is good, but I can’t tell their species other than “Nemo” (clownfish), parrot fish and damselfish. A reef fish expert is able to spot 63 fish species in 45 minutes of snorkelling at Mamutik.

sea urchin
Be careful when you snorkel in the sea near the jetty area, there are many sea urchins among the corals. In case you get stung by sea urchin, just keep calm and look for the lifeguards at the beach.

seasport gears for rent
Snorkelling set (snorkel, mask, fin, life jacket) are available for rent on the island, so are beach mat, tube ring, camping tent, volleyball and football. You may check out the price list (as of May 2015).


Mamutik definitely has the facilities to fulfil tourists’ two most basic needs, i.e. call of nature (toilet) and food. Changing rooms, picnic shelters, tables and benches are free for public use too. The following is a layout map of the facilities on Mamutik:

layout map of Mamutik Island


There is a canteen named Koktas Cafe that sells basic meals and drink. You can get food such as chicken rice, sandwich and fried noodle there. You would spend over RM10 (≈US$3) per meal as everything is priced higher on island. Better bring your own food. You may look at its menu and price list JFYI (prices as of May 2015).

cafe on Mamutik Island
Pic: Koktas Cafe

buffet stalls on island
Pic: there are many lunch buffet stalls on the island. May serve good food but won’t be cheap.


Next to Koktas Cafe is a grocery and souvenir shop, where you can buy T-shirt, beach wear, slipper, hat, towel, snacks (cookies, potato chips, chocolate bars, nuts, etc.), instant noodle, insect repellent, bottled drinking water, soft drink, ice cream, etc. Beer and cigarette are available. It’s also where you rent snorkelling gear.

shop on Mamutik Island


There is no hotel, resthouse and accommodation on Mamutik Island now, but a new hostel would be ready by 2017. Camping is allowed under the permission of the park warden. Camping tent is available for rent at RM30 per night (≈US$9). The park requires the camper to pay a small Camping Fee of RM5 (≈US$1.50) for adult and RM2 (≈US$0.60) for child (below 18). Please noted you need to pay additional RM50 (≈US$15) to boat operator for return trip next day. The bonus of camping here is – campers will have a wonderful night view of KK city light and sunrise view of Mt. Kinabalu (if weather is good).

public toilet of Mamutik Island
Pic: public toilet with shower heads outside. The toilet on Mamutik is not well-maintained, with some broken door locks and toilet flush, a bit dirty sometimes.

Borneo Divers Dive Academy

Built by Borneo Divers, a PADI 5-star Dive Centre and Instructor Development Centre (IDC), Borneo Divers Dive Academy has started operating on 18 May 2016.

Borneo Divers Dive Academy & Leisure Center

Borneo Divers Dive Academy & Leisure Center

Their main role is to provide beginner and advanced scuba diving courses in this centre completed with swimming pool, dive station (with full range of dive equipment) and classrooms.

Swimming pool for guests and scuba diving courses

Swimming pool for guests and scuba diving courses

If you want to experience scuba diving without a diver license, you can sign up for their Discovery Scuba Diving, which costs about RM300 (≈US$90) per person and includes two dives (guided by dive instructor).

scuba divers on Mamutik
Pic: scuba divers on Mamutik Island

Besides, this Center also has the following facilities (some are open for public):

  • Water sports center
  • Souvenir shop
  • In-door and outdoor restaurants
  • Changing rooms, lockers and shower facilities
  • Marine Research Lab
  • Beach Bar
  • Hostel which can accommodate 80 people (available by end of 2016)
Brochure of Borneo Divers Dive Academy

Brochure of Borneo Divers Dive Academy

old cemetery on Mamutik
Pic: old cemetery belongs to the past residents of Mamutik, before the island is gazetted as national park in 1979. The burial ground is inside a fenced area. Just to let you know so you won’t unknowingly camp on a grave.

Jungle Trekking

At the north of Mamutik is a forested ridge. If you have 20 minutes to spare, you may walk its 385-Meter jungle trail. There are a lot of mosquitoes so insect repellent is a must.

trail of Mamutik
However, this regenerated secondary forest is too small to support rich diversity of flora and fauna, so there is nothing much to see.

Philippines Megapod
The only highlight is Philippines Megapod, a red face chicken-like bird that lays its eggs in mounds of sand at the edge of beach. I spotted 3 of them in my last visit. They were busy digging the soil about 5 Meters away from me behind the bush.

How to get there

Mamutik Island (see Location Map) is open from 8:00am to 5pm to public every day. You can hire a boat (for about RM30≈US$9) at one of the boat terminals in KK. The boat transfer is available every hour and the ride to Mamutik takes about 10 minutes.

Entrance Fee to Island

Besides paying for return boat transport (about RM30≈US$9, 6% GST tax and terminal fee included), you need to buy ticket (known as Conservation Fee) from the park to enter the island. The table below is the ticket rates. Please note if you are on an island-hopping trip, you only need to buy this ticket once, and you can reuse the same ticket to enter other islands of TARP on the same day.

Visitor Ticket Fee
– Adult (18 & above)
– Below 18 years old
– Senior Citizen
– Student (below 16)
– Adult
– Child
RM10 (≈US$3)
RM6 (≈US$1.80)

More Photos

For more nice photos, you may browse 100 latest photos of Mamutik Island in my photo album.

photo album of Mamutik Island

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi) of Sabah, Malaysia

Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)

Among all the islands near to Kota Kinabalu City (KK), Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi) wins the most votes as the favorite of tourists. Not only it offers more nature experience, the new activities such as Coral Flyer (longest island to island zipline in the world) make this little island more exciting. After you see all its features and secrets in this article, you will love Sapi even more.

Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)
Sapi Island is only 25-acre (10 ha) big and the second smallest island of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Though it’s about ⅓ the size of more popular and developed Manukan Island nearby, people like its less commercialized setting and every facility is just a short walk away.

jetty of Sapi island
Pic: jetty of Sapi Island, with Gaya Island in the background

Once you arrive Sapi Island, thousands of fishes and beautiful sea view at the jetty already impress you, most will think “it’s gonna to be an awesome tour!” I feel the same no matter how many times I visit Sapi. Sapi is really a gift to KK, how many cities in the world have nice tropical island only 7 KM away?

tourist photo at jetty
Pic: my friend was so delighted in his first visit to Sapi Island. He also says he likes Sapi better than Manukan.

beach of Sapi Island
Sapi Island has everything it takes to be a cool island destination, i.e. blue sky, white sandy beach, crystal clear seawater, green forest, and… how about some wildlife?

monitor lizard
Let’s meet the “dragons” of Sapi. I mean Monitor Lizard. Dozens of monitor lizards roam freely at the forest edge of Sapi and some grows up to 2 Meters long, so big that tourists mistake them as Komodo Dragon. Monitor Lizards are not aggressive and they are never a problem to the tourists. Just ignore them like how they ignore you. They only bite when you leave them no choice.

tourists taking photos of monitor lizard
At first tourists would find these reptiles a bit intimidating, then they will enjoy it as part the nature experience. In fact, this is an attraction to green tourists who love the idea of sharing space with wildlife. Wild boars and macaques are also present occasionally.

sea of Pulau Sapi
You can just laze on the beach or go swimming. If you are not a swimmer, don’t go too far out. Certain sections, especially the area near to jetty, have a sudden incline of 2 to 3 Meters deep. So always keep an eyes on your children, though there are lifeguards around.

white sandy beach of Pulau Sapi

tourists in the sea of Sapi Island
The beach of Sapi Island is small so it can be quite crowded during weekends and school holiday. Sapi is a forested island covered by old secondary jungle, the forest is fully protected after this island was gazetted as a national park since 1979. The trees grow very dense and tall, providing good shade behind the beach. The best months to visit Sapi are from Feb to May.

Below is a short video that shows what Sapi Island has (and its least explored corners):


Fire your tour guide if he doesn’t recommend you to snorkel in Sapi Island. It’s a must-try. The best concentration of corals is located at southern side of the island. You won’t see much coral if you snorkel near the beach full with tourists.

Clownfish of Sapi Island
You don’t need to make any appointment with Nemo. They are always there. Sapi Island seems to have more fishes than other islands of KK. If you want to go fishing near to KK, experienced anglers will bring you to water around Sapi Island.

corals of Pulau Sapi
Most corals I saw during snorkelling are hard corals such as lettuce and staghorn corals. During low tide, they are just a few feet under my belly. In sunny day, the visibility is excellent. Corals also need sunlight like plant, the clear water helps them to flourish.

giant clam in Sapi Island
Pic: This giant clam is about 1-feet wide, about 4 to 6 years old I think.

You can rent a life jacket for snorkelling if you don’t know how to swim.

coral in Pulau Sapi

Ok, no picture, no evidence, so the following is the moving pictures of my snorkelling in Sapi:

Besides snorkelling, there are many other fun things you can try on Sapi Island, for example, Coral Flyer (World’s longest island to island zipline), Sea Walking, Scuba diving.

Hidden Beaches

As I said, the beach can be packed with tourists in peak season. Since you can’t ask everyone on the beach to keep quiet, you can move to “hidden” beaches at other side of the island for more tranquility. It’s also the area that faces the rich corals I mentioned above.

crowded beach of Sapi Island
Pic: the way (yellow pointer) to hidden beaches are behind the rock outcrop next to tourist beach

rocky area of Sapi Island
But there is a little obstacle course for you to cross to other side. The rocks in the water are quite slippery. For me, climbing over the dry boulders along the rocky shore is easier.

rocky shore of Sapi Island
It’s a walk of about 200 Meters that worths your effort. Bring some water (and snorkelling gears) with you. Otherwise it’s very troublesome to walk back to tourist area to get it.

hidden beach of Sapi Island
Pic: there are two hidden beaches on the same side. Some locals also don’t know this. They are all yours. You are welcome.

tourists camping on the beach
Pic: campers at the secret beach

Secret Cliff

Here is another secret location with rewarding view, only for those who are keen to walk 800 Meters to higher ground. Your friends who are lazy to follow you will regret, after they see the nice photos you share on Instagram.

way to jungle trail
The starting point of the trail is next to a fenced area behind tourist beach and a shelter named “Pondok Tenggiri”. It’s guarded by a few dragons. Don’t worry, they (monitor lizards) will flee when you approach lol. You will spot a not-so-useful trail map at forest edge.

junction in jungle trail
The route starts with steep ascend in the beginning. After 486 Meters, you will reach a Y junction, follow the trail at the left. There is no direction sign along the trail, keep your eyes wide open so you won’t miss the junction.

cliff of Sapi Island
After 300 Meters, you will come to an open area with exposed sedimentary rocks and greeted by a few noisy White-breasted woodswallow (bird). Congratulations! You have discovered the secret cliff that is unseen by 99.9% of the tourists. Even though it’s only a 25 minutes walk, it feels like a major achievement for getting there.

sea view from the cliff
The cliff gives you a magnificent view of rocky shore facing the vast blue ocean behind Sapi Island. Watch your footing as there is no fence. A fall from this 50 feet cliff is hazardous to your health, and there are very few people come here, in case you need help badly. Anyway, this cliff could be a potential spot for recreational abseiling.

secret cliff of Sapi Island
Pic: view of Manukan Island from the cliff

You can see more photos of this secret cliff in my photo album. I also recorded the panoramic scene of secret cliff in my video.

rocky beach
On another side of the secret cliff is a descending path leads to a rocky beach, where you can get very clear view of hidden beaches.

island forest of Sapi
You may turn back to the starting point after taking some photos on secret cliff, or you can continue to explore another route at the junction, by walking another 500 Meters on the ridge to complete the loop trail of Sapi Island. The remaining jungle trail is not well-maintained. Unless you are very interested in trees, there are some big Keruing and other beautiful trees to see, otherwise don’t waste your time.

monument on Sapi Island
Pic: a monument near the end of jungle trail. How many typo do you spot? If this thing happens today, sure it’ll go viral on the Net.

Rocky Beach

Another beach worths checking out is the Rocky Beach at the 200-Meter narrow channel between Sapi and Gaya Island. During low tide, you can even walk to Gaya Island, the biggest island of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Wildlife also uses this as a migration shortcut between islands.

rocky beach
The shore is blanketed by tens of thousands of sandstone pebbles and rocks, this likes an upstream river in interior of Sabah.

rocky beach of Pulau Sapi
The 235-Meter zipline Coral Flyer can be seen from here.

Facilities on Sapi

The amenities for tourists are basic but quite complete on Sapi Island. Jetty, toilets / changing rooms, benches, cafe, grocery shop and shelters are available for public access. The only thing that Sapi doesn’t have is island accommodation. Camping is allowed but you must inform the Park Warden at reception counter for the permission.

layout map of Sapi Island
Pic: above is the layout map of Sapi Island. You can click to enlarge it.

public toilet on the island
Pic: public toilets of Sapi Island. Thank you for not peeing in the sea. There are shower heads outside for you to rinse your body.

monitor lizard in toilet
Pic: I was so shocked to see this monitor lizard in man’s toilet because it’s a female. An awkward moment when we both were speechless and stared at each other. Nature, remember this is Nature. Wildlife has the right to enjoy the amenities like human does. Just kidding.

Sapi Cafe on the island
Sapi Cafe is open from 8am to 4pm every day, and they serve common food and drink such as fried rice from RM7 to RM23 (≈US$2-7). You can click here to see their menu (prices as of Apr 2015), which has good variety of choices (Note: Some food items may not available sometimes).

makeshift lunch buffet
Pic: lunch buffet stalls on the island, usually run by travel agent for their tour groups, but they might accept walk-in customers.

water sport equipments rental
You can rent snorkelling gears (RM25/day≈US$7.60/day for snorkel, mask, fins & life jacket), beach mat, camping tent, etc. from a shop in island. Small locker is available for rent for RM10 (≈US$3) a day. Refundable deposit applies so bring extra cash. You may click here to see the list of items and their rental/deposit rates (prices as of Apr 2015).

grocery store on Sapi Island
Pic: island grocery shop, opens from 8am to 4pm, some items sold include snacks, soft drink, beer, sunblock lotion, insect repellent, soap & shampoo, batteries, medicines.

Travel Fees

Sapi Island is a public marine park managed by the government (Sabah Parks) and open to walk-in local and international tourists every day. After you pay for the return boat transfer, you need to purchase ticket (which is called Conservation Fee) to enter the island. The table below is the ticket rates.

Visitor Ticket Fee
– Adult (18 & above)
– Below 18 years old
– Senior Citizen
– Student (below 16)
– Adult
– Child
RM10 (≈US$3)
RM6 (≈US$1.80)

*6% GST tax would be applied to ticket soon

Some travel agents may charge you RM150 to RM180 (≈US$45-55) per person for a tour package (include land/boat transfer, lunch, entrance fee, snorkelling gears, guide service) to Sapi Island. If you arrange the trip on your own, it’ll cost only RM80 (≈US$24) or less. For example, let’s say you are a foreign adult tourist, below is the sample budget:

  • Return Boat Transfer (& Terminal Fee): RM30
  • Island Entrance Fee: RM10 (non-Malaysian adult)
  • Snorkelling Gears: RM25 (rent from shop in island)
  • Lunch: RM15 (bring your own lunch)

Camping Fee

For camper, the park imposes a small Camping Fee of RM5 (≈US$1.50) for adult and RM2 (≈US$0.60) for child (below 18). Please be informed that you need to pay additional RM50 (≈US$15) to boat operator for next-day pickup. Camping tent (fit 4 people) is available for rent at RM30/day (≈US$9/day) on the island. The island shops close at 4pm, so you better take out your belonging from locker or buy your last-minute supply such as food before they close.

How to get there

Sapi Island (see Location Map) is only 10 to 15 minutes away from KK by boat. You can hire a boat at any one of the boat terminals in KK City (open from 8am to 4pm). Please note the last boat returning to KK City departs at 4pm or 4:30pm.

More Photos

Please feel free to browse 100 latest and bigger photos of Sapi Island:
more photos of Pulau Sapi

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia