Pulau Sapi, or Sapi Island is one of the 5 islands that make up the marine park known as Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which is located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.
In local terms, the word ‘Sapi’ means cow and why is it called such, I have no idea. It definitely doesn’t look like a cow if I look at the map of this island (Please comment below if you know the story so I can be enlightened). What I do know is that if you’re looking for island-based fun, you will have to head to an island (which Sabah has many) and the nearest island from my home, is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.
Why specifically Sapi Island this time? Well, it was originally a plan with a group of friends to explore a little corner on the island that is not frequented by visitors, but unfortunately we later found out the trail leading to that little corner has being closed to the public.
But anyway, here’s my account and some tips for you guys who wish to explore Sapi Island without going through travel agents and yes, you can do it on your own if you opt to do so.
We started off at 8am in the morning and had our breakfast at the Old Town White Cafe outlet at Gaya Street before heading to the Jesselton Point Jetty for our boat ride.
It was a bright sunny day. Our boat ride took about 30 minutes from Jesselton Point Jetty to Sapi Island. It was a bumpy ride as the sea condition was not that perfect. Upon reaching the island, our first priority was supposed to explore a trail which later we found out it was no longer accessible to the public. Disappointed, we decided to continue with our snorkeling activity instead.
There are many watersport activities being offered on the island which include, but not limited to parasailing, banana boat ride, snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-walking etc. In case you have decided to go snorkeling, my advice, after today’s experience and judging by the many visitors on the island, is to get the life jacket as a package together with goggles and snorkel.
The reason being that there are not many corals and marine life near to the beach of Sapi Island. You will have to venture further out from the beach in order to see these marine life and you definitely need a life jacket to give you some kind of support when you’re exhausted and need to stay afloat. I myself was over confident with my own swimming skill and did not opt for the life jacket and as a result, I did not manage to experience much of the beautiful marine life as I was not confident to venture out further from the beach without the life jacket.
After done with 1st snorkeling session, we had our simple lunch at the nearby cafe, which is one and only on Sapi Island so talking about food, you do not have many choices here, unfortunately. Be also prepared to pay premium prices for food too. I ordered a plate of Seafood Fried Rice which costed RM12.00 per plate and a glass of Honey Lemon Ice which costed RM5.00. Personally, I would say food quality is on the average side but no complaints as I only wanted to fill my stomach before the 2nd session of my snorkeling.
On our second session, we realized that there were 2 boundaries using buoys, set up by the park. The first boundary which was nearest to the beach and this area is where most of the tourists swim around. Due to the crowded people, the water is murky here and there’s no point to snorkel in this area as you cannot see anything in the water.
The second boundary is where you should be. The water here is less crowded with people and is clearer allowing you to see the marine life below, however, it’s also deeper. This was my problem for not equipping myself with the life jacket and had to be disappointed for not being able to venture further out from the beach. I am not going to repeat the same mistake in my next trip.
Our snorkeling session ended at approximately 2.30pm and after some cleaning, we departed at 3pm from the island and ended our trip for the day.
Here are some tips from my trip:
- The proper channel of visiting Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is always go through either Jesselton Point Jetty or Sutera Harbour Resort but never accept the service of boat operator that normally soliciting potential guests along the waterfront in front of Wisma Merdeka. Your personal safety is not guaranteed.
- From Jesselton Point Jetty, you can purchase your boat ride tickets to the 5 islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. The rate depends on how many islands you’re visiting and it’s in the range of RM35/Adult or RM30/Children for an island visit to maximum RM65/Adult or RM45/Children for 4 islands visit.
- If you’re planning a snorkeling activity, try to get your equipment from your boat operator before you head to the island. Equipment rental is cheaper compared to those offered on the islands.
- Take note boat departure to the islands starts from 9am to 10am while returning from island to Jesselton Point starts from 3pm to 4pm daily.
Below is the footage for this trip:
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