Off The Beaten Track Sapi Island: Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Borneo

Borneo, Destination / Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park consists of 5 islands. Most boat companies from Jesselton Point offer a maximum of three island hops in one day but if you really wanted to you could see all 5. On our first day island hopping we took it slow and visited 2 (which I thought gave us the perfect amount of time).

All speedboats to the island depart from Kota Kinabalu at Jesselton Point. After spending too much time sharing stories with two other travellers at breakfast we arrived at Jesselton later than expected at 9:50am.

To our surprise there were many different ticket counters in the ticket hall and we just went with the first one we happened to walk over to. Costs differ per number of island hopps so we paid 40 RM each with Summer Holidays speedboat company and then rushed on the boat for our 10am departure. 

Note: boat ride costs do not include the national park entrance fee of 20 RM per person when you arrive at your first island. This only needs to be paid per day/visit, not per island… so keep your ticket safe. 

15 to 20 minutes later we arrived on Sapi, our first island. We were told our transfer to Manukan was at 1pm and until then we were free to explore. The water was so clear and just absolutely beautiful. Who knew THIS was Borneo?!?!! 

While the water was very clear, the majority of it accessible from the main beach was super busy with tourists and so while Alex was paying the national park entrance fee I checked the trusty app of the island. As a small island the landing beach was the only real beach to relax on (…or so we thought). At the sight of people, I immediately wanted to find somewhere quieter. I like my beaches quiet and secluded.

On I saw a walking trail from the left hand side of the beach which went to ‘Point  E’ and then a ‘small beach’ 20 minutes walk away. With no clue what these where and after some deliberating (mainly me worrying if it would be worth it) we found the loose path behind the furthest left restaurant, with a picketed fence giving it away. 

We spent 10/15 minutes walking through the jungle, initially uphill, over the leaf strewn floor and spiky rattan palms. There were quite a few fallen trees on the path which we weren’t sure were purposefully meant to block the way or if they had fallen naturally and just hadn’t been cleared. Either way, we clambered over them and eventually reached “Point E”. 

Wow, Point E deserves a better name as this viewpoint on top of the cliffs looking out to the very clear ocean was stunning. We only left after being harassed by a large flying insect.

From Point E we continued and shortly after took a path to the left which we went along for another 5 minutes. It started to get slightly overgrown here and before the turn off to “small beach” there was another path down to the sea. We decided to take this before going further and after treading over a lot of leaves crawling with ant colony’s and climbing over a big branch we emerged onto this gorgeous beach!

You’ll know you’re there when you spot the pink ram teddy left by previous explorers.

We were completely alone which was crazy to think as the main beach was so crowded. It wasn’t perfect though, as with most beaches in Asia there was tonnes of litter on the beach. Particularly bottles near the tree line. Hundreds of them piled at the top of the small beach. So if you’re heading there take an extra carrier bag to bring some back with you. Hopefully one day someone can come across it and it be 100% paradise!

The beach also had quite a few ants, which if we had spent time on our mat it wouldn’t have been that relaxing. Instead we locked our clothes away in the backpack, out of ants reach and jumped straight in the water. 

We spent 2 hours alone, enjoying the peacefulness and gorgeousness of the place…. if only it didn’t have any litter! The only other life were the fish in the water, the cormorant that flew by and a very cute little sea bird which loved to waggle it’s bum. 

It was the ultimate place for me to play with the dome for the GoPro. Not bad I say, what do you think? 

Even with the litter, I couldn’t recommend trying to find this beach more. I added the exact location of it to as ‘Amazing Secluded Bay’ (could you tell I had a great time here ha?!) and I hope you can leave it a little bit better than you found it like we did.

If you want to visit the other islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park you can click here for more information or here for other things to do in Kota Kinabalu.

Lots of Pocket-sized love,


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