Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park General

COUNTRY: MALAYSIA

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN NATIONAL PARK

GENERAL INFORMATION

Tunku Abdul Rahman was a leading figure in Malaysia’s independence movement in the 1950s and became Malaysia’s first post-independence Prime Minister. He is affectionately known as ‘the Father of Malaysia’.

MSTARPGen_00_LocationMap.jpg  MSTARPGen_01_AllParkMap.jpg

Tunku Abdul Rahman (National) Park is a group of 5 islands a few km off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah on the North West coast of Malaysian Borneo.

Most visitors to the islands are on day-trips from the city for a bit of sun and sand. It’s a popular destination with locals and tourists. There are 11 different companies running boats as frequently as every 20 minutes, so don’t expect to find yourself alone on a deserted island paradise.

Underwater-wise, the islands are considered a second-cousin to their neighbours to the South East in the Tun Sakaran National Park (Sipadan, Malbul, Kapalay, etc). It’s true that you probably aren’t going to find many barraccuda or hammerheads here, but I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity and beauty of the few small coral gardens, here.

If you are in the KK area, it’s definitely worth a day or two out here.

This page gives general information about stuff that is common across all of the islands. For more specific details on each island, see the individual pages on Sapi, Mamutik, and Manukan.

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Which island?

Well, as this is a snorkelling blog, the answer is ‘the one with the best snorkelling’, of course. But which one is that? A famous travel guide book says that this is Mamutik, but I’d say that it was easily Sapi.  See the individual island pages for details.

All of the islands have beautiful white sand beaches and roped-off swimming areas.

My order of preference is:

Sapi – smallest, cutest, island. Best snorkelling. Has a remote walking trail leading to a couple of empty beaches.
Mamutik – has some decent snorkelling, but this is limited to one quite small area
Manukan – has a larger area of OK snorkelling. This is the most developed island – there’s the National Park resort here catering to package tourists and corporate awaydays.
Gaya – this is a huge island. I didn’t go there. It doesn’t seem to be known for its snorkelling.
Sulug – you can’t get to this one by public boat – you would have to charter private transport there. I didn’t go. It doesn’t seem to be known for its snorkelling.

All the islands I went to are all more developed than I expected. They have full open air-restaurants laid out and tableclothed-up tables awaiting pre-paid package tourists. In the mornings, those package tourists are all receiving their briefings about how to hold on to a parasailer or banana boat.

There are toilets and shower blocks and lifeguard stations.

None of the islands have lockers or anywhere secure to leave valuables when you are in the water, so leave them back on the mainland.

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In the water:

Access to the sea is pretty easy on all islands, with gentle sloping sandy beaches going into shallow, clear water. Your biggest challenge is a few eroded shells and coral fragments at the tideline. I saw a sign up on Manukan thanking you for not snorkelling at low tide, but I didn’t see any areas of coral where doing so would be a problem for people or corals.

When I was there (July), underwater visibility was much better in the mornings than in the afternoons. It was 10 metres at best, closing-in to about 3m in the afternoons.

There are roped-off designated swimming/snorkelling areas. Normally I hate this kind of thing, but with the nutcase speedboat ferry drivers around here, this is probably a good idea. Also it keeps the plastic flotsam from the sea offa you (the villagers on Gaya Island still dispose of food wrapping the way they did before foreigners brought that unnatural polyethylene stuff along).  You can stray outside the roped areas if you like, but (1) make sure the lifeguards don’t see you as they’ll kayak out and tell you to come back and (2) ; stay in shallow waters (where the speedboats can’t go) for your own safety.

There are always two zones of roped-off-itude. The areas marked with the light blue buoys are strictly for swimming and snorkelling only. These areas often contain some decent snorkelling. Then there is a secondary area marked by another rope with bigger, red buoys. This seems to be prohibited for the speedboat/ferry boats, but OK for slow moving diveboats to enter (to access dive sites). It seems you are allowed to swim in these areas and some of the better snorkelling is found here.

Away from the designated beachy swimming areas, the coastline is generally steep, slippery rocks.

There are “beware jellyfish” signs up everywhere. There were plenty of small stingies around when I was there (the kind that gives you an itchy burn for a few days, like a mosquito bite), but nothing really serious. It’s probably wise to wear a t-shirt, anyway.

Generally, the underwater terrain is a flat, sandy bottom going from the beach to about 3m depth. Dotted around this are small patches of rather unspectacular coral in various hues of brown. Occasionally, you will bump into large sections of diverse hard corals in a spectacular range of colours – this is the main attraction, here. You can sometimes find 10 different species of beautiful hard-coral within a couple of square metres.

At a few places, as you go out further, you can see the seabed drop-off to 15+ metres.

There are quite a lot of the usual reef fish in the area, pecking away at the coral – butterflyfish, damselfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish, wrasse, etc.

MSTARPGen_09_P7090369_best_best_beaked_nosed_butterflyfishSM.jpg  Blue-Damselfish_P7051758_.jpg VirgateRabbitfish_P7051778_.jpg Parrotfish_P7060156_.jpg OvalSpot-Butterflyfish_P7051766_.jpg RedBreased-MaouriWrasse_P7060168_.jpg MSTARPSapi_20_ABCD_P7051703_.jpg  MSTARPGen_14_P7090563_Angelfish_ChaetodontoplusMesoleucus.JPG

There are lots of nemos around, including many of the bigger spine-cheek species.
SpineCheekAnemonefish_P7051777_.JPG MSTARPManukan_34_Anemones4.jpg

You’ll see the occasional porcupinefish, pufferfish and coral cod/peacock grouper.

MSTARPGen_57 P7060150_PorcupineFish.jpg MSTARPGen_58 P7060239_puffer.jpg MSTARPGen_60_P7090452_CoralCod.jpg

There are a few pretty sponges around and several species of anemone, but no soft-coral.

MSTARPGen_80 P7060141_sponge1.jpg Sponge_P7090451_.JPG MSTARPManukan_35Anemones5.jpg Anemone_P7090646_1.jpg

and some colourful sea cucumbers
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See the specieslist for more details.

You probably won’t see many pelagics or big stuff here. I did spot a single white-tip shark on the drop-off at Manukan, which was cool. (Scared about sharks? Read this).  The other notables were a school of 15 baby-squid hanging around Manukan and a Bluefin Trevally at Sapi.

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Transport and logistics.

Public speedboat ferries go from Jesselton Point pier, an easy walk North of downtown KK. Boats start at 0630. It’s better to start earlier in the day rather than later, as they only run boats when there is enough demand, and demand has often dried-up by 11am. You don’t have to start at first-light – 8am-9am should be fine.

If you want cheap-eats while you wait for your boat, there is a food-hall next to the ticket office and some cheaper-still food vendors along the pier.

As you enter the ticket hall, there is a line of ticket booths for the 11 ferry operators down the right hand side. The list prices are the same for all of them, so to differentiate themselves they all hang over the front of their booths and holler at you. Don’t just give-in at booth 1, eh?

(July 2012) list prices (return trip) were :
1 island – 23 MYR
2 islands – 33 MYR
3 islands – 43 MYR

..to this, add another 7MYR for various jetty/departure fees. There is also 10MYR National Park entrance fee (payable on arrival at your first island). It covers all the islands (i.e. you only pay once for the day).

It seems that there is a little space for negotiation on ticket prices. Also, some guesthouses in town hand-out 10MYR discount vouchers for booth 8.

Each company will only send a boat when it decides it has enough passengers, so shop around the 11 booths for prices and departure times (look at their lists of people already signed-up to go on the next boat).

If you arrive around 8-9am, you will probably only have to wait about 20 minutes for a boat to Mautik/Manukan. Maybe a little longer for Gaya/Sapi.

A note for single travellers – all the pricelists and ticket sellers say “minimum 2 people”. That means minimum two people on the whole boat, not 2 people in your travelling party. But the ticket sellers don’t explain this, they just refuse to sell you a ticket and then try and brush-you-off to the next ticket booth (who promptly do the same thing). Check all 11 booths to see if any of them have already signed someone up for your destination. If none have, just sit-tight and check back with each one every 10 minutes or so.

When you eventually buy your tickets, you will also have to choose your return boat time. Some operators have an option to change the return time by phoning a designated number. Some don’t.

If you are doing several islands in one day, you might find that you have quite a short time on one island and rather too long on another, depending on your operator’s schedules. Shopping around seems to be the only answer to this.

The last boat back to KK will probably be between 15:30 and 17:30 depending on the island and the volume of demand they have that day. This is another reason to start early.

You can camp overnight on the islands for a small fee (5 MYR in 2012), but you need your own tent. I read somewhere that there are also 6 person tents for hire on the islands, but I haven’t verified that.

There is expensive resort-accommodation on Manukan and Gaya.

Meanwhile, back at the ticket-hall – on the other (left) side of the hall, you can buy ‘guided’ tours to the islands (this just means that you use the same boat all day, rather than catching the public ferry boats).
50MYR one island;
60MYR for two
70MYR for three
Minimum two people. I think these prices include lunch.

You can pay for snorkel-equipment rental at the regular-boat ticket booths (10MYR for each of: fins; mask&snorkel; lifejacket). You will pick the gear up at the jetty.

When you’ve got your tickets, walk down to the jetty and tell a man in a red t-shirt where you are going. He’ll tell you where to wait for your boat. Eventually someone might shout the name of your destination, but don’t leave it all to chance – check with someone occasionally. If you rented snorkel gear, make yourself known to any guy who seems to have a lot of it.

Once in the boat, you will have to wear a lifevest to comply with harbour regulations. You’ll look like a dweeb, but werring one is not a bad thing, as the boat drivers are mostly twentysomething boy-racers who are more interested in a having a speed-duel with their buddy than with your comfort and security. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but one of my drivers went straight from zero to full throttle while still tied to the jetty. Classy.

It’s about a ten minute ride through plastic-strewn seas to your island of choice.
https://whatsthesnorkellinglike.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/mamutik/
https://whatsthesnorkellinglike.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/manukan/
https://whatsthesnorkellinglike.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sapi/

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First visited/written: July 2012                  Last updated: July 2012

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Sapi

Pulau Sapi, Malaysia

Pulau Sapi  is one of the Islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman (Marine) Park, off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

MSTARPGen_01_AllParkMap.jpg

This page only covers information specific to this one island. It’s probably a good idea to first read the general information about the area and the Park here.

IN BRIEF :

Sapi was my favourite island in the park for snorkelling.  There are two spots where there are huge fields of beautiful, diverse coral.  Other than at these two areas, the snorkelling is not too special.

There are a few walking tracks on the island, some of which lead to remote, unpopulated beaches where the crowds don’t go. On land, you can see treesnakes and a lot of big monitor lizards.

Best-ish seascape:
MSTARPSapi_05_best-of_P7051869_.jpg

Typical seascape:
MSTARPSapi_06_typical_P7051743_.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

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IN NOT-SO-BRIEF:

MSTARPSapi_03_Sapi-MAP-MAIN.jpg MSTARPSapi_04_Sapi-Board-Map_P7051646.JPG

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As you come off the boat and walk down the jetty towards the island you will see roped-off beaches to your left and right.  Let’s start with the left.
MSTARPSapi_10_AF_beach-left_P7051949.JPG

The best bit of snorkelling on this beach is centred about 70m south of the jetty. If you follow the line of blue buoys round from the beach/jetty you should run into it. There’s a beautiful big coral garden (maybe 100m square) about 2m deep at area ABCD on the map.  On the jetty side of it, there’s a small drop-off  that goes down to about 5m.

This coral garden has really good diversity, often with ten different species of beautiful coral all nestled next to each other.

The pictures from ABCD speak for themselves:

MSTARPSapi_05_best-of_P7051869_.jpg MSTARPSapi_13_ABCD_P7051710_.jpg MSTARPSapi_14_ABCD_P7051711.JPG MSTARPSapi_15_ABCD_P7051807.JPG MSTARPSapi_16_ABCD_P7051721.JPG MSTARPSapi_17_ABCD_P7051867.JPG MSTARPSapi_18_ABCD_Moon-Wrasse_P7051924_.jpg MSTARPSapi_19_ABCD_P7051893.JPG MSTARPSapi_20_ABCD_P7051703_.jpg MSTARPSapi_21_ABCD_P7051804.JPG MSTARPSapi_22_ABCD_P7051737.JPG MSTARPSapi_23_ABCD_P7090407.JPG MSTARPSapi_24_ABCD_P7051725_.jpg MSTARPSapi_25_ABCD_P7090435.JPG
…nice.

Note that a lot of this coral garden is outside the blue line.  The line of blue buoys designates the official swimming area.  The line of red buoys further out seems to be the boundary for speedboat-taxis/ferries (but you might find the occasional slow-moving dive-boat inside the red buoys). I don’t recommend going outside the red buoys (the speedboat-ferry drivers are mostly twenty-something boy-racers, who seem to be not too worried about whether they chop your head off).  You should be fine between the blue and the red, though.

The islands have a team of enthusiastic lifeguards. They are only on-duty during busy periods, but they will rush out in their kayaks if they think you are breaking the rules.  They seem pretty happy as long as you are inside the red buoys.

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Outside the sweet spot of ABCD, but still in the general area, the corals weren’t quite so good, but were still OK.
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Heading further South in the blue-buoyed area (around E), there were a few artificial structures that had been sunk to encourage coral growth and fish habitat (the structures look like 2m-tall upturned teacups with big holes drilled in them). Have a peer inside and see who’s hanging out there.

The coral is not so impressive here and gets more sparse the further West you go.

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By the time you get down to the edge of the buoyed swimming area (F), the coral has all-but faded out completely and has been replaced by sandy bottom and some boring rocks.
MSTARPSapi_29_F-Goldsaddle-Butterflyfish_P7051657.JPG

On-land, this end of the beach (F) has the start of the hiking trail and is also where the monitor lizards come to feed on food scraps from the restaurant/BBQ.
MSTARPSapi_30_Monitor-Lizards_P7090594.JPG

If there are lifeguards on duty, you’ll have to quietly sneak out of the designated swimming area to swim round the rocky headland towards the unpopulated beaches to the West.  There are some shallow rocks at G, so be careful of swell and breakers there.  Boats are less of an issue here as you are away from the route of the speedboat ferries.

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Just after the rocky cape, there is some pretty boring seascape at H:
MSTARPSapi_32_H_P7051656.JPG MSTARPSapi_33_H_P7090459.JPG

But still a few interesting fishies hanging around:
MSTARPSapi_34_H_P7090460.JPG

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About 150m after the cape, and about 100m from the shore, you can see the attractive looking beaches in the distance.
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From the sea, it looks like they are three separate beaches. When you get towards the end of the second one (at the start of the big rocky patch), the seabed erupts into an explosion of colour.  A few metres deep, there is another big coral garden here (J), about 30m wide and 100m long. This is pretty awesome – equal or better to the beautiful patch at ABCD.

Here’s some pics:
MSTARPSapi_37_J_P7090481.JPG MSTARPSapi_38_J_P7090462_.jpg MSTARPSapi_39_J_P7090464_.jpg MSTARPSapi_40_J_P7090466_.jpg MSTARPSapi_41_J_P7090480_.jpg MSTARPSapi_42_J_P7090468.JPG MSTARPSapi_43_J_P7090475.JPG

There are some particularly beautiful clumps of blue Staghorn coral.
MSTARPSapi_44_J-Blue-Staghorn_P7090469_.jpg MSTARPSapi_45_J-Blue-Staghorn_P7090492.JPG MSTARPSapi_46_J-Blue-Staghorn_P7090489_.jpg MSTARPSapi_47_J-Blue-Staghorn_P7090491_.jpg

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Aside from swimming here, you can also get access to this part of the island by taking the hiking-trail from the South end of the main beach. I also saw people rock-hopping over the headland to the more westerly beaches.  The reef is about 100m off the beach.

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Further on west, the coral slowly fades out.
MSTARPSapi_50_JK_P7090511.JPG MSTARPSapi_51_JK_P7090512.JPG

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The little headland at K is rocky with some clumps of long-dead Porites coral, but a good showing of sea-stars.
MSTARPSapi_52_JK_P7090515.JPG MSTARPSapi_53_JK_P7090517.JPG

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The West and North coasts around Areas K, L, M are boring underwater and it’s not worth making the long swim:
MSTARPSapi_55_KLM-boring_P7090545.JPG MSTARPSapi_56_KLM_P7090546.JPG

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It’s shallow and rocky around point M, which at least keeps the speedboats at bay, as they head out to the open sea for some parasailing.

From point N to the jetty is another swimming beach, cordoned off by lines of buoys.  The snorkelling on this side is less impressive than on the Eastern beach. There is plain sandy bottom around N. As you move out towards O, you start to get some bigger patches of coral.
MSTARPSapi_61_NO-boring-bottom_P7090582.JPG MSTARPSapi_62_NO-boring-bottom_P7090587.jpg

There are big colonies of black spiny sea urchins around here.  They are probably too deep to accidently step on, but their preponderance is not a good indicator of water quality.

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In a line from O to P, about 3 metres deep, there are occasional patches of OK coral.
MSTARPSapi_65_OP_P7051842.jpg MSTARPSapi_69_OP-ornrey-staghorn_P7090581.JPG

The main highlight around here were some spotgill and hookfin cardinal fish hanging around the Yellow Staghorn coral.
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Big Gaya island is only about 200m away, across the channel.  Some guidebooks romanticise swimming across to it, but don’t do so in the daytime when the speedboat ferries are running. This is a heavy traffic lane and it would be almost-certain suicide. If you have to cross to Gaya, bring a tent, stay overnight on Sapi and swim it at 6pm after all the boats have gone back to KK.

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If you are snorkelling-challenged, they sell a “sea walking” trip on Sapi.  In return for a stack of money, you can put a toilet bowl on your head and walk around on the seabed manhandling sea stars while having air pumped into your hat from the surface.
MSTARPSapi_75-Seawalking_P7051654.jpg

As their poster says – “You won’t get your hair wet and you can put on your makeup for the photo session!”  hmmm

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Other relevant pages:

Lots more pictures from Pulau Sapi

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – general

Pulau Mamutik

Pulau Manukan

Species list

Safety

Glossary

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First visited/written:  July 2012                     Last updated: July 2012

Manukan

PULAU MANUKAN

Pulau Manukan is one of the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman (Marine) Park, off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.
MSTARPGen_01_AllParkMap.jpg

This page only covers information specific to this one island. It’s probably a good idea to first read the general information about the area and the Park here.

IN BRIEF :

There is about 50 square metres of reasonable coral near the East end of Manukan, but otherwise the underwater landscape is unspectacular.  Manukan is the least noted of the islands for snorkelling, but ironically, I did spot a few interesting species there that I didn’t see on the other islands (a nudibranch, a school of baby-squid and a reef shark).

Manukan has the most tourist development of all the TAR Park islands.  There is a resort run by the national park operating company Sutera. When I was there, there was a corporate away-day group doing team-building games on the beach and you can rent some kind of one-man-air-powered-diving-bell thingies.  I usually try to avoid places like this. On the other hand, the extra demand does mean there are more frequent boats going there. Also, it is close to Mamutik, so you can easily combine a day-trip to both islands.

Best-ish seascape:
MSTARPManukan_02_BestSpot.jpg

Typical seascape:
MSTARPManukan_03_TypicalNotSoGoodishD.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

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IN NOT-SO-BRIEF:

MSTARPManukan_01_map.jpg

Getting off the boat and walking down the jetty towards the island, you have beaches on your left and on your right.  The snorkelling (and other facilities) are to the right. Walk right (East) along the beach (or the paved footpath) for about 150m until you see some restaurants. On the beach, there is a lifeguard station (near point G). Just after that, there is a channel through the buoyed-off swimming area, so that boats can bring high-rollin’ customers right into the beach.  Standing here where the private boats land, looking out to sea, and to the left, you will see a tall while buoy about 150m away (at about point A). The decent snorkelling is just beyond this buoy, starting around point B.

You have got OK reef at a few metres depth around in the area around B and C.
MSTARPManukan_18_AreaCGoodSeascape.jpg MSTARPManukan_19_DecoratedRabbitfish_SiganusPuellus.jpg MSTARPManukan_21_Redfish.jpg MSTARPManukan_22_AreaC.jpg

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There is a drop-off around point C, going down to about 10m. This gives some variation in seascape and tends to house some bigger fish.  I saw a small white-tip gliding by at about 7m, but it was too shy to hang around for a picture. (Scared of Sharks? – read this).

There seems to me more than the usual abundance of anemones here.
MSTARPManukan_28_Anemones1.jpg MSTARPManukan_33_Anemones2.jpg MSTARPManukan_34_Anemones3.jpg MSTARPManukan_34_Anemones4.jpg MSTARPManukan_35Anemones5.jpg

It was here that I saw a school of about 15 baby squid (the only ones I saw in Malaysia).  They started out black, but then camouflaged themselves by turning a shade of light grey to blend in with the surface-water before scooting off into the distance. They were back 20 minutes later.
MSTARPManukan_36_Squid.jpg

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Off towards point D, the reef fades out and you are left with sandy bottom and lots of broken-up coral fragments.
MSTARPManukan_60_AreaD.jpg

Also saw a nudibranch here.
MSTARPManukan_38_Nudi.jpg

There were also quite a lot of sting-y jellyfish (the kind that gives you a burn for a few days, not the kind that kill you).

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Around point E, there are rocks and a few algae-eating fish, but it was all pretty unspectacular here.
MSTARPManukan_63_CapeE.jpg

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I had been intending to swim all the way around the island, but due to the stingies being blown-in on the North Easterly wind, I gave up at F.
MSTARPManukan_64_PointF.jpg

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Back-tracking through the shallower waters back round to the start point, there is just plain sandy-bottom.  There’s quite a steep sandy drop-off only about 20m off the beach which takes (non) swimmers by surprise.

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Around point H, they were renting out these weird submarine things. Apparently the air tank powers the propellor as well as filling up the big helmet thing. I don’t like the look of that huge dead-air space. Not good for carbon dioxide build-up.
MSTARPManukan_71_Submarine.jpg MSTARPManukan_74Submarines.jpg

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On the West side of the jetty there’s a nice beach, but there was nothing going-on snorkelling-wise.  I had heard that the best snorkelling was to the West of the island, so I ploughed down as far as I could stay awake for. Past the end of the beach, past the staff jetty, past the generator, past the boat-shed, past the fields of floating crisp packets.  No – nowt,  just sandy bottom and some sections with miserable looking stag-horn coral.
MSTARPManukan_80_PoorWestEnd.jpg

Stick around areas B and C in Manukan.

Here’s some random piccies.

Nemos_P7060216.jpg EggSac_P7060227.jpg Sponge-Coral_P7060152.jpg MushroomCoral_P7060245_.jpg OrangelinedTriggerfish_P7060218_.jpg  RedBreased-MaouriWrasse_P7060168_.jpg  Sweepers_P7060219_.jpg featherduster-worm_P7060083.jpg Nudibranch_P7060117_.jpg Parrotfish_P7060156_.jpg Needlefish_P7060161_.jpg

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Other relevant pages:

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – general

Pulau Mamutik

Pulau Manukan

Pulau Sapi

Species list

Safety

Glossary

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First visited/written: July 2012                       Last updated: July 2012

Mamutik

PULAU MAMUTIK

Pulau Mamutik is one of the Islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman (Marine) Park, off Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

MSTARPGen_01_AllParkMap.jpg

This page only covers information specific to this one island. It’s probably a good idea to first read the general information about the area and the Park here.

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Mamutik is a small island in the group near the South West corner of the Park.
MSTARPMamutik_02_SWParkMap.JPG

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IN BRIEF :

To the North of the jetty is mostly sloping sandy bottom with the occasional small patch of interesting and reasonably diverse coral.  As you go further out (but still only a few metres deep) the patches join up and form something approaching a reef.  There is a drop off down to about 8m. This has pretty decent coral on and is the best snorkelling spot on the island.

To the South side of the jetty, there is quite a big field of fire coral. After this, things fade out and become fairly boring.  The West and North side of the island have poor snorkelling.

There is a reasonable population of small, coloured reef fish throughout.

Best-ish seascape:
MSTARPMamutik_07_BestSpot.jpg

Typical seascape:
MSTARPMamutik_08_TypicalSpot.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

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IN NOT-SO-BRIEF:

MSTARPMamutik_03_Map.jpg

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A famous travel book says that this island has the best snorkelling of all the islands in the Park.  I reckon that is wrong – Sapi has better.

Getting off the boat at Mamutik and walking down the jetty towards the island, you see developed beaches to your left (South) and to your right (North).  On each side, there are designated swimming areas marked first by a line of blue buoys and then (further out) by a line of red buoys.

Let’s turn right off the pier, walk through the fields of lunch tables and start at the Northernmost end of the Northern (red) roped area (A).

Initially, there is some fairly dull flat sandy bottom, but go out about 40m and head right (south) (B) back towards the pier, and you will see the occasional patches of coral.
MSTARPMamutik_25_Ornery.jpg MSTARPMamutik_26_BittyReef.jpg

As you continue back towards the pier and head out a little deeper, there will be more (and healthier) coral.
MSTARPMamutik_28_ContiguousReef.jpg

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The best spot (C) is just before you draw level with the lifeguard’s station.  Roughly at the line of blue buoys, there is a drop-off from about 3m down to 8m. This was the most photogenic spot I found, at about 4m on the drop-off.  The ‘best bit’ shot above is from here.

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Continuing back (D) towards the pier, things fade back into plain sandy bottom with the occasional patch of unhealthy, brownish coral.

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South of the jetty (E) things pick up again for a bit with a pretty large field of firecoral (Heliopora coerulea, not Millepora sp).
MSTARPMamutik_35__Firecorals.jpg

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There are quite a few nemos around generally, especially the larger spinecheek variety and (F) is a bit of a hot-spot for them.
MSTARPMamutik_37_Nemogang.jpg

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The firecoral continues on for about 50 metres, then everything (G) fades back to unhealthy brownish, mostly dead coral.  The roped-off swimming area and the beach end here.

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Around the cape (H) is mostly rocks and dead coral at a few metres depth.
MSTARPMamutik_38__RockyPoint.jpg

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I swam all around the island, just to check I hadn’t missed anything. Mostly, it’s brownish or dead coral around the West and North . There is the occasional spot where things spring to life a little :
MSTARPMamutik_40_West.jpg

…but none of is as good as what you have already seen on the beachy side of the island, so it’s not really worth the effort of swimming round there.

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Here’s the West coast from the surface:
MSTARPMamutik_41_WestSurface.jpg

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and some coral on the North West corner:
MSTARPMamutik_42_NW.jpg

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As far as I know, there are no walking tracks on the island. The coastline around the West and North side is all rocks.

 

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Other relevant pages:

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park – general

Pulau Manukan

Pulau Sapi

Species list

Safety

Glossary

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First visited/written: July 2012                  Last updated: July 2012

Sulug

Pulau Sulug is an island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a few km off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

I didn’t go there. If I ever do, I’ll post about it here.

Meanwhile, you can read about other islands in the park here.

Gaya

Pulau Gaya is an island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a few km off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

I didn’t go there. If I ever do, I’ll post about it here.

Meanwhile, you can read about other islands in the park here.

Environment

Environment

We all know about not stomping on coral, not dropping waste in the sea and not touching marine life, right ?

So why do I see so many people doing it ?

For an erudite and educational coverage of conservation matters, I
strongly urge you to read this article from the excellent redang.org.

Also, please have a read of this and encourage those around you to follow it.

Reasons not to feed the fish.

 

 

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Hall of shame :