Snorkelling at Manukan

One of the best activities at Manukan island is of course snorkelling, and it is also very affordable. All you need is a few equipment like mask, snorkel and fin, and you are ready to jump into the sea and snorkel away. For those who want to be more cautious, just put on a life jacket and it will help you to float and ease your swimming effort. If you don't have these equipment, no worry, they can be rented at the various jetties in Kota Kinabalu, namely Jesselton Point, Beach Bums, and Sutera Harbour, while on your way to the island.

Manukan Island has a big coral area, the size of a football field, at its north east corner. With clear sea water, shallow coral reef, and the warm weather, you can snorkel for hours here looking at the many interesting tropical fish and corals. Just watch out for the strong sun, sunburn is not fun. At any given day one can spot as many as 30 species of tropical fish. If you are lucky enough you might spot one or two turtles on the outer skirt of the reef. Some of the popular and colourful residential fish at Manukan are clownfish (nemo), butterflyfish and parrot fish. To find the clownfish, one has to look for the sea anemone a kind of coral. Clownfish live among the tentacles of the sea anemone, the only fish that not get stung by the sea anemone tentacles.

The most common fish here are the Sergeant Major and Foxface Rabbitfish, these two are almost everywhere and in big numbers too. For the more adventurous, small swordfish with its long sharp beak can be found just outside the coral area and they normal swim in group. Do watch out for them, cause they might accidentally poke you with their sharp beak, although this very very rarely happen.

Do watch out for the sea urchins, a black ball like creature with a lot of long spikes, they seem to be in many places these days. If stung by one, immediately notify the life guards on duty, it can be a very painful experience.

Snorkeling is also great for releasing stress. When some one is happily swimming with so many fishes and busy spotting them, time is almost non-existent. And you get to exercise too. At the end of the day, one will go home satisfied.


large basket sponge

The only gloomy part on this experience is that most of the Manukan Island corals are in poor condition, many look broken and bleached, are they dying? Or this is the effect of global warming. Can something be done?

Here are some more pictures taken from the coral reef of Manukan:

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion Ocelaris)

Sergeant Major (Abudefduf Sexfasciatus) in black & white stripes
& Foxface Rabbitfish (Siganus Vulpinus) in yellow stripes

Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides Dimidiatus)

Moon Wrasse (Thalassoma Lunare)

Many Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus Chaetodonoides)

Bufferfish (Arothron Stellatus)

Beaked Butterflyfish (Chelmon Rostratus)

Black Angelfish

Parrot fish

How to get there? Hourly speed boats depart from three Kota Kinabalu jetties. The main jetty is at theJesselton Point, and two other jetties namely Sutera Harbour and Beach Bums. Depending on which departing points, the speed boat takes about 10 to 20 minutes to reach Manukan and it costs about RM 17 to RM 45 return.

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