A recent work trip to South East Asia meant that I would be visiting the eastern part of Malaysia for the first time. Known to many as Borneo or Saba. The moment I knew I’d be visiting Kota Kinabalu, I did a google image search and saw what appeared to be an incredibly picturesque place with crystal clear turquoise waters.
Extending my work trip by 4 days meant that I had the opportunity to explore the local area..
From previous days spent working in KK, I had become friends with my taxi driver. We swapped whatsapp details and whenever I needed local advice, a guide or just a ride, I’d contact him. On the second day of my extended trip in KK, I asked him where the beautiful beaches were that I had seen on google, as from what I’d seen of the waterfront so far, there wasn’t any beaches at all!
He told me to go island hopping. Doing some research I found a local excursion company that would arrange for you to be picked up from your hotel in the early morning, dropped off at Jesselton Point, where you would then collect your snorkeling set and head to the island(s) of your choice via boat. All for a whopping 65 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), which worked out to be £12.29.
So I booked it there and then.
Next day, the trip to Manukan island, took about 15-20 minutes.
Once there, you’ll pay 10 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) £1.89 to enter the island. (You only have to pay this once, regardless of how many islands you choose to visit.) They then hand you a photo copy of a map of the island and tell you to be aware of jelly fish, even though it was out of season.
Walking to the other end of the island, I couldn’t help but think how incredibly lucky I was to be there and experience such beauty first hand. There is more than sufficient space to pitch a tent and camp over night, which is allowed, however due to how hot it can get in these parts, and the incredible amount of mosquitos flying about at all times, it’s not recommended! There is a lovely resort hotel on the island though, which is worth taking a little look but it’s definitely not cheap! : Manukan Island Resort
On my way to dip my toes in the water, I met a group of lifeguards who appeared a bit intimidating at first glance, however as I approached, the smiled and said a friendly hi.
Once I donned my snorkel and mask, I entered the water fearing a swarm of jelly fish might attack ( they seem to love me..) but my fear was unwarranted as there wasn’t a jelly fish in sight!
I relaxed a little and started going deeper, swimming away from the shallow waters until I finally spotted my first piece of coral.. The closer I got, the more noise I could hear. The noise of coco pops in a bowl of milk..
This was the sound of the coral.
Swimming for about an hour, I was joined by one of the life guards who extended his hand towards mine. I grabbed it, (as at that point I was a bit tired) and he lead me past the coral and deeper into the sea to a steep drop off point which lacked a sign reading “Selamat Datang to the deep ocean”.
At that point, I didn’t go very deep as my snorkel didn’t allow it, however the life guard circled me with what appeared to be some mashed up bread. He rubbed it between his fingers and within 5 seconds I was completely surrounded by hungry little fish..
WHAT an experience that was!
The rest of the morning I continued snorkeling with him and he showed me as many kinds of sea creatures as he could find. The highlight of which, was holding a piece of coral reef with a whole family of clown fish (Nemo & Co) on it. Other sea creatures included a blue starfish, giant clam and even different types of sea cucumber (which I’m told is a local Malaysian and Chinese delicacy, is tasteless, expensive and very tedious to prepare. Still, the locals still love it!)
Around mid-day, I headed back to the jetty where I was picked up and taken to another island (post to follow).
At that stage, I was completely unaware of how badly I had burnt my back in the sun.
Word of warning.. DO NOT FORGET YOUR SUN BLOCK! Make sure you cover up, because now, more than a week after snorkeling I am still peeling and itching all over! Make sure you cover up.
Without further ado, have a look at the video below which was shot entirely on a GoPro Hero3 camera with a camera pole. I haven’t had this much fun filming a video in a long time! Enjoy!