The Mantanani Islands are a group of three small, challenging-to-reach islands off the north coast of Sabah, Malaysia. With underwater visibility of up to 40 meters and 16 different dive locations, the islands offer scuba divers an unparalleled diving experience.
In addition to world-class Dive spots, The Mantanani Islands boast 2.5 kilometers of white sandy beach perfect for soaking up the sun and taking in island life at its finest.
Because of its lack of popularity, there are few accommodation alternatives. In advance, you may wish to book Mari Mari Backpackers or Sutera Resort.
However, there are a couple more choices for you to consider.
Which Island Should I Visit?
The largest island is Pulau Mantanai Besar, which you will stay on for the night. The other two islands are Mantanani Kecil and Lungisan; however, there are no accommodations or places to stay overnight—you can only visit them during the day as part of a dive trip from Mantanani Island.
The island of Mantanani Kecil is approximately 2.5 kilometers distant from Batu Bolong Island. When the sea is tranquil, lungisan is just under 1 kilometer away from the main island and adventurous tourists may kayak around it by kayak.
How to get to the Mantanani Islands
The best arrival airport for you will be Kota Kinabalu if you plan to travel to the Mantanani Islands right after landing in Sabah. The total journey time from Kota Belud to Pulau Mantanani Besar is approximately three hours, including van and speedboat transfers. nPlease note that there is only one speedboat to Mantanai Island each day. This boat leaves from Kampung Kuala Abai Jetty in Kota Belud at 9:30 a.m. Unless you want to spend the night in Kota Belud first, you should leave Kota Kinabalu as soon as possible.
It takes around 1.5 hours to travel between Kota Kinabalu and Kota Belud on the north-eastern end of the island. Despite the fact that there are several buses and minivans that ply between the two cities every day, you should aim for the 7.30am bus from Wisma Sabah Shopping Centre. You may also reserve direct transfers to Mantanani Island here.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Companies
The Mantanani Islands have 16 diving spots, 3 of which are World War 2 Japanese Ship wrecks.
The islands boast a diverse array of marine life, including turtles, dolphins, stingrays, eels octopus’, seahorses and many different kinds fish. If you’re lucky enough, you might even catch sight of a local dugong.
There are plenty of snorkelling opportunities for those who don’t want to dive, with many shallow reefs around the island. Mantanani Divers operates a shop on the Island and is run by locals. They regularly host dive trips at discounted rates to clean up ocean trash from coral reefs.
Other Things to Do
The Mantanani Islands are a lovely place both above and below the water, making them ideal for scuba diving. Snorkeling is another wonderful alternative if you want to explore the coral reefs but don’t want to spend money on PADI certification or just need some exercise.
Sunset views:The entire island is rustic and unspoilt, with spectacular orange skies at sunset from the western side.
Fishing trips: Fishing lessons may be procured through the Little Dolphin Hotel on Mantanani Island’s north-west coast. You may need to buy the best fishing pole for beginners if you want to try this.
Kayaking: Rent a kayak from one of the resorts on the island and explore the coast. If you’re on the west coast, you might be able to paddle around Lungisan Island, which is only across the channel.
Best time to visit the Mantanani Islands
The most favorable time to visit the islands is during the dry season from April through July. Although, even in the dry season Sabah experiences some rain, so don’t be discouraged if you see a few clouds each day. The Mantanani Islands are always open for travelers but can sometimes become inaccessible due to bad weather conditions. If this occurs, you may have to wait out the storm by staying put in Kota Belud for a day or two until it’s safe to travel again.
Accommodation on the Mantanani Islands
Mari Mari Bakcpackers ($) – The southern end of the town is home to this viewpoint, which is located in front of a seaside restaurant and bar nicknamed “The Cliffs” on its north side. This panorama can also be seen from Kudu Beach Bar & Resort at Yandi Point (yandi point) east coast. The view is best appreciated from the Taodeni Nature Reserve’s picnic area about 900 meters south-west of the settlement. There are two distinct types of accommodation to choose from, based on your budget.A teak wood cabin with hammocks underneath is located on 2 meters stilts at The Traditional Sulap. Alternatively, there are eight bed dorm rooms within a short walk away at Yandina Bay East End (Yandina Bay). Both provide lovely sunset views.
Sutera Mantanani ($$) –The beach at Maemai, located on the far south-east of Komodo Island, is one of its kind in terms of length and sand quality. There are private houses right along the sand here. The resort also includes three meals a day and round trip transfers from Kota Kinabalu, ensuring that your stay is worry-free while still allowing you to personalize it as much as you like.