If you are looking for a family holiday with your children, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Sabah is worth considering going. Located about 20 minutes away by speed boat from Kota Kinabalu, this marine park consists of five islands and coral reefs. It is named after Malaysia's first prime minister, Tun Abdul Rahman.
The five islands that formed this park are Gaya Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island, Sapi Island and Sulug Island. Gaya Island is the biggest island in the park and has been a forest reserve since 1923. There is a Marine Ecology Research Centre on the island. The headquarter of the park is located at Manukan Island. This park was gazetted as Sabah's second national park in 1974 and covers an area of 50sq km.
Manukan Island is the second biggest island in this park and is the recommended island to go for snorkelling, diving and swimming. There are many coral reefs and plenty of colourful fishes that will make your snorkelling fun especially if you are taking your children along with you. Do remember to wear a safety vest to enable you to float if you are not good at swimming. You can rent one at the beach.
Manukan Island is the most developed island with 20 units of chalets, clubhouse, restaurants and a diving centre. If you are staying here, you can enjoy other facilities such as squash, tennis courts, swimming pool and even a football field.
If you are not keen to stay here, you can always take a day or half a day as a family outing to this island. Many visitors stay at the city and travel here for half a day's trip before going back in the afternoon. The higher end hotels include the Sutera Harbour Resort, The Magellan Sutera and The Pacific Sutera. Other hotels at the city include Gaya Centre Hotel and Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu.
The budget hotel Tune Hotel is located further away from the city centre but is near the 1Borneo Shopping Mall. The 1Borneo Mall is the largest shopping mall in East Malaysia.
Remember to bring along your snorkelling and diving gears. Otherwise, you can also rent them at the beach.
Though it is the smallest island in the park, Mamutik Island or Pulau Mamutik has some good beaches and coral reefs for you to see and enjoy. Limited facilities such as rest house, toilets, changing rooms, barbeque pits, fresh water and electricity are available.
Sapi Island is located at the South West of Pulau Gaya. It has one of the nicest beaches in the park for tourists to do snorkelling and scuba diving. It too has basic facilities such as barbeque pits, changing rooms and toilets.
If you are looking for a quiet place to go far away from the crowd, Sulug Island is the island to go. Not as developed compared to other islands, there are good reefs and beautiful fishes to see.
Once you arrived at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, the entrance fees charged are RM5/adult and RM3/child. Non-Malaysians fees are RM20/adult and RM15/child. You only need to pay once even though you will be doing island excursion within the park.
If you are staying in Sutera Harbour Hotel, the jetty is just beside the hotel. There are regular boats that go to the marine park of which you can book in advance. For an island trip, the cost is approximately RM38/person.
One such service provider is Sea Quest which is located just within walking distance from Sutera Harbour Hotel.