from the high mountain, we moved on to the blue sea. the day after our having successfully scaled the highest mountain in south-east asia, we chartered a boat from jesselton point to explore three of the islands in the tunku abdul rahman marine park - sapi, manukan and mamutik - located off the western coast of sabah.
we paid rm$330 - a special rate - for a 12-seater powered boat to take us from one island to another. those of us who wanted to snorkel had to pay extra for the equipment. there is a one-time charge of $3 (malaysian) or $10 (non-malaysian) for visiting the islands. this fee is paid at the first island of visit.
the first island we visited was sapi, a small island about a 20-minute ride from the ferry point. with bits of bread, we managed to attract a lot of marine fish. they swam around us, close to the surface in the clear azure water.
we had our lunch on manukan island, the most popular of the islands in tunku abdul rahman marine park. the water was not as clear although the island seemed to receive more visitors than the other four islands. we paid an average of $7.50 for a decent meal. the decision to eat at the cafe came after some of us were put off by the exorbitant price for a buffet lunch....$110 per person.
the third island we had planned to visit was sulug but we had to settle for mamutik because the tide was too low to allow our boat to beach as there was no jetty on the island.
however, we did not regret visiting mamutik because the corals and marine creatures were more plentiful than at manukan. most scuba diving activities are carried out at the dive sites close to this island, the smallest of the five.
when we got back to the hotel it was almost six, about time for the sun to set. i had read in my lonely planet travel guide that kota kinabalu was remarkable for its sunsets. a malaysian couple who shared the boat with us mentioned that our hotel afforded a good view of the setting sun.