Long before i even booked my accommodation, i was most keen on Pulau Gaya, the biggest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park but upon arrival at KK, it seemed that size doesn't really quite matter when it comes to popularity.
Listed as the second smallest among the five islands in the marine park, we selected a day package that sent us on a speedboat journey to Sapi Island on a lazy Monday morning.
Narrow waterway separating Sapi Island and Gaya Island. If you look closely enough, you might be able to see a few lines connecting the two islands; they were not power lines! Check out the Coral Flyer to find out more.
Arriving at Pulau Sapi jetty.
Crystal clear water, teeming with fishes. I was actually looking forward to snorkeling although the memorable trip to Maldives wasn't too long ago.
Wide shades of blue that turned into a short spectrum of green; this would mean only a short distance to the big drop into the ocean, area that should be avoid by amateur snorkelers!
Beachfront - not too bad and wasn't too crowded; not yet.
See those floating coloured balls? They demarcated the zones of which you can access. Given the high sea traffic, i can understand the safety reason for doing so even though this severely restricted the enjoyment of snorkeling.
Entering the island proper.
Jetty building - aside from housing an information counter, there was also a shop where you can buy beachwear, kitschy souvenirs, just to name a yet.
Do's and Dont's - at part b, it was mentioned that "no person shall cut, damage, remove, injure, destroy or bomb any coral (whether living on deep)"; who the hell would bring a bomb anywhere unless they mean a fart bomb!
Another building right ahead of you once you step out of the jetty building. This time, it housed a convenience shop and a small counter where you can rent life jacket, snorkeling mask, fin and even beach mats!
Prices as above; excusez moi for the blurry picture. The deposit would be the killer so make sure you bring enough cash! Those who sign up for the island package (like us) would be provided with the snorkeling mask and life jacket for free.
Bought fried caramelized banana chips!
Next to the jetty building - the tents and the nicely covered tables and chairs; honestly, i was under the impression that there was going to be an event later; maybe a beach wedding or something.
Turned out the area was for those who have signed up for the day packages! Together with your tour mates (who were still strangers with you then), a table would be assigned and the guide would help to guard over your prized possessions.
Lifeguard station - do note that despite their presence, you swim at your own risk!
Signs at the beach for your reference.
I should be eager to start my snorkeling but i was keener on Coral Flyer which i have chanced upon while doing my research in Singapore. So, hold on while i registered for the world's longest island to island zipline.
Once you have settled in at your table, a person would drop by and start to promote packages of sea sport activities available on Sapi Island; the common banana boat, parasailing, waking on seabed etc. You could buy a few to get a better deal and if you don't bring enough cash, you could always pay back when you are back in KK.
For us, we wanted to take things slowly and opted to put on hold the signing up of any sea activities until we have completed Coral Flyer.
The trip over to the nearby Gaya Island took less than three minutes!
Once again, the waterway between the two islands. Our guide told us just two weeks before, two whale sharks were spotted in the same shallow waterway! Lucky to those who were taking the zipline then! You may read more on my review of the Coral Flyer here.
Tons of fishes lurking beneath Gaya's jetty!
The road up to Coral Flyer at Gaya Island was pretty good, with sturdy concrete steps. However, the pathway down from Coral Flyer at Sapi Island was a different story!
A dirt path would be my best description of it and please look out for uneven steps, fallen trees that block your way and tree roots protruding out from the ground.
Chalets? I understand there is no accommodation in Sapi Island for tourists even though you may choose to camp overnight.
Divers wannabes taking their class; i am supposed to take up diving although that interest has waned somewhat. One fellow colleague's comment has a profound effect; diving is an expensive hobby!
A ribbonfish in the clear water!
Other side of the jetty which didn't seem to attract much attention from the beachgoers; likely due to the lack of a white, sandy beach.
Venturing to the other side of the beach; you don't have to climb up. Just stick to the ground and walk over; as far as scenery is concerned, the other side was more spectacular and given its secularist location, less populated too.
Rocky outcrops; this area would have been better for snorkeling but it was out of bounds. Attempts to jump in would result in loud, continuous whistle shrills from the alert lifeguards!
Quite slippery so do walk carefully.
The other side - personally, i thought this was it and i could not venture any further. According to this informative blog post here, i should have been more adventurous! Snorkeling was said to be epic at this southern part of Sapi!
Many tourists were, like me, unaware and thought of this area as just a fantastic spot to take cheesy photographs, above water.
Humongous rock that sat in between the populated beach and hidden section.
Popular beach section - i chose a Monday to visit as i presumed that weekends would be very crowded! The only disadvantage is that with lesser people, you feel less willing to explore. Sometimes, monkeys see, monkey do could open up to a new frontier you never thought possible.
Sapi Island is known for its huge monitor lizards which i never had a chance to spot!
Next to the enclosure was in fact another pathway that shall bring us to a hidden cliff!!! I didn't know about it until i was researching about Sapi island while doing up this post. Darn, people do research before the trip while weirdo me does it after the trip!
Buffet lunch, provided as part of our day package, was provided!
Drinks would include free flow of fruit punch, plain water and even pepsi! Unlike the buffet lunch which would only begin at about 12 noon, drinks via the self-serviced dispensers were available right upon your arrival.
Lunch was actually quite scrumptious as fair as visual was concerned with crabs and prawns. My personal favourite was the well marinated chicken wings!
Unfortunately, the dining experience was marred by the roasted sweet potatoes. Notice the worm!?!? Thank god my travel companion from China had a closer look!
Hungry and didn't sign up for the tour package? No problem as there was a small cafe that has quite an extensive menu. Prices were higher of course.
Menu as appended above for your reference!
With all the news about kidnapping at Sabah (although they were concentrated on the northern part where Sipadan island is), it was indeed assuring to have the police around!
Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalau,
Sabah State, East Malaysia
Applicable only to those on free and easy.
For the summarised itinerary of the 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Borneo Island) trip, please click here.