a day at the TAR marine park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park is a national park -- a group of 5 islands, just minutes (5 to 8km) off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, on the northern side of Borneo.
Our trip to Sabah last year wouldn't have been 'complete' without a day of island-hopping here, even if it meant we weren't able to cover all 5 islands.
It was in our must-do list and so we did it! Just 3 islands in a little more than half a day.
We got our tickets at Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, hopped onboard a motorboat in just half an hour later. The package; a little bit of tour near Gaya Island to see the area where natives live on the water plus self-exploration at Manukan and Mamutik islands.
We were exhausted from our journey down from Kundasang earlier that morning, but it was a great day regardless. From the mountains to the sea, in half a day. I couldn't think of anything better.
Small fishes swimming close to the jetty, you can actually see them in the photo above. The water is so unbelievably clear.
At the islands, travelers are allowed to snorkel in dedicated areas just steps away from the shore. We didn't need to actually go any further to see the beautiful sea creatures and marine landscape Borneo has to offer. Despite the sky getting darker by the minute, It didn't rain until we were at our last island for the day, but still the water was only a little muddier than usual, fishes were frantic from the waves. We went for a few quick dips with our snorkeling gears, drank fresh coconut water and watched happy people all around!
There aren't much difference between Manukan and Mamutik Islands except for the land sizes, and Mamutik is the smallest among all five islands, with a great view of the mainland and Mount Kinabalu. Camping is allowed at Mamutik, but only with permissions from the Sabah Parks authorities. If I recall correctly, it was a little less crowded too on the day. We spent the longest time in Mamutik.
Heavy rain and strong winds hit us on our ride back to Kota Kinabalu. The motorboat drivers raced their way back to safety at the Jesselton Point. We felt every drop of rain and sea water on our faces, like little paintball bullets propelled by harsh wind. Personally though, it was the best boat ride of my life. The sea was rough but as freeing as it can be.