About Mantanani Island
Pristine blue waters and the stunning natural beauty makes this place a paradise for beach lovers. The island has the most diverse forms of marine life. Snorkelling and diving are the major water activities you can look forward to enjoying on this island.
Sitting in crystal-clear aquamarine waters, the three islands, Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kecil and Lungisan have become very popular for muck diving due to the existence of sea-horses, imperial shrimps, blue-ringed octopus, pink-eyed gobbles and many more species of marine animals.
The island is located in the north-western part of the state capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu and one can take a 55 minute speed boat ride from the Kota Belud if the weather conditions permit. Mantanani Besar is the largest of the three islands.
This part has not been much commercialized due to its thin structure as it is shaped like a knife. It is an absolute heaven for divers as it allows up to 40 metres of visibility. Many exotic birds flock to the island making it a great place for bird watching.
Several species of pigeons, sunbirds and the Mantanani scops owls are some of the beautiful bird species you can expect to see at the island. For those who do not want to indulge in water sports, the island offers a hoard of activities for them as well.
You can laze around on a hammock, play a game of volleyball or visit the nearest village for fishing. There are quite a few resorts, homestays and other places to stay in and around the island.
How to Reach Mantanani Island
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Most tourists come to Mantanani Islands from Kota Kinabalu. The journey from Kota Kinabalu is a two hour drive through open countryside alongside Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in Malaysia. Ideally, you can rent a car from the airport that will take you to Kota Belud. From Kota Belud you can take the boat ride that will directly drop you at Mantanani Island.
Best Time to Visit Mantanani Island
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Mantanani Island is warm and humid throughout the year. The best time to visit would be from April to September as this time of the year is safest for water sports. The clear skies and tranquil blue waters will give you the best beach holiday in this season. The period from October to March can be slightly unpredictable at times.
The sea tends to get rough and to ensure the safety of all tourists, many activities are prohibited or can be cancelled any time. The island has some safe operation policies that will not permit you to take part in certain water sports and other activities so if you plan to go around this time, you must be prepared with a super flexible schedule.
What Not to Miss at Mantanani Island
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Here are some of the best activities to do in Mantanani Island:
Mantanani Island is one of the best snorkelling spots in the world. The turquoise waters, colourful marine creatures, coral reefs and Dugongs (Sea cows) are the major attractions here.
Grab a kayak and get onto the calm, clear waters to enjoy the amazing marine life view while kayaking. No prior experience is required and anybody can enjoy this activity.
3. Sunset Tour
The Island looks spectacular at sunset. The sky turns into stunning shades of orange, red and yellow making this the most romantic time of the day. For the sunset tour, you can take the Power Yacht which is very spacious and has comfortable sofas.
4. Scuba Diving
Many local vendors at the island offer Scuba Diving courses and also help with leisure dive sessions. The instructors make sure you are well trained and guide you to the best underwater locations.
5. Island Trekking
There are several local groups that arrange island trekking for those interested in exploring the adjoining villages and the local culture.
Places to Visit near Mantanani Island
1. Sapi Island
This is another beautiful island located in Kota Kinabalu which offers exciting activities like parasailing and zip lining. The clear water is excellent for diving, snorkelling and viewing the amazing marine life. A day trip to this island would be great when you visit the Mantanani Islands.
2. Mount Kinabalu Botanical Garden
Enjoy a lovely walk through the gardens at this Botanical Garden which is an absolute paradise for nature lovers. Many beautiful orchids, pitcher plants and other exotic flora can be seen around the park. The park is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and is quite a picturesque location.
3. Tanjung Aru Beach
The magnificent beach is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. It is a very clean beach with mesmerising sunset views. The Kinabalu Golf Club and the Kinabalu Yacht Club are also located at the beach.
4. Pu Toh Tze Temple
The Buddhist Temple with a traditional Chinese roofing and structure has ten large statues and a stone staircase pavilion. The temple has a marvellous design and a Chinese-style reclining Buddha.
Other Essential Information About Mantanani Island
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Places to Stay in Mantanani Island
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1. Mari Mari Backpacker Lodge
The resort is well equipped with all the basic facilities for tourists. It has both private rooms and dormitory rooms. A lot of activities including scuba diving and snorkelling are arranged by the resort.
Located at the Sutera Harbour, the resort offers several Mantanani Island packages that tourists can avail. You can enjoy a comfortable stay at the resort and enjoy the spa facilities too.
This place provides eco-friendly accommodation and has a beautiful garden. Home cooked meals are provided on special request. A private beach area is available for guests to use for snorkelling and other activities.
This property has well furnished rooms, free WiFi, a restaurant, bar, garden and a private beach area.
The homestays have a host which is usually from the local communities. Most of them have comfortable single, double and triple rooms. Some also have a restaurant and provide complimentary breakfast. This option is ideal for families.