Photo: Top points for colour use alone.

Mantanani Village Homestay

Experience authentic island life

T: (0105) 838 940 (Mainah) (0128) 255 160 (Maibi) (0148) 675 871 (Sani) 

Mantanani Village Homestay

Our rating:

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An excellent way to truly experience island life is to stay in a village homestay. Most Mantanani islanders are ethnically Bajau Ubian, and traditionally fishermen; due to depleted seas caused by practices such as dynamite fishing, many struggle for survival. The homestay programme offers them alternative income and offers community-minded travellers an opportunity to enjoy the island on a budget, and both the prospect of a cultural exchange.

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Colourful simple wooden double-storey houses predominate in the village, and the homestays are marked with equally colourful signs. We probably don’t need to say, but accommodation is very basic. Guests are offered comfortable fan-cooled private rooms and facilities are shared with the family— it’s squat toilets and bucket showers. Not everyone speaks English, but all make an effort to communicate, and a smile and sign language goes a long way.

It's basic but comfortable.

It's basic but comfortable. Photo: Sally Arnold

The friendly lady we spoke to offered 40 ringgit per night per person for just a bed and 70 ringgit per night per person for full board. Your hosts can help organise snorkelling and fishing trips, and will help with transport to the island, usually with one of the tour companies.

If you stay with a family, remember to dress modestly and don’t bring alcohol into their homes. Obviously a homestay isn’t for everyone, but it’s sure to be an authentic and memorable experience, and if you’re travelling with kids, a real education. Unfortunately, with authenticity also comes reality — the rubbish problem on the island is much worse in the villages. Take a garbage bag and grab a few handfuls and perhaps encourage your hosts to join you.

It's a working village; rubbish is sadly a problem.

It's a working village; rubbish is sadly a problem. Photo: Sally Arnold

Although it would be more convent for your hosts if you book ahead, we met some travellers who booked a day trip with one of the tour operators, then turned up in the village to stay, so if you’re flexible, that may be an option.

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Walk-in rates at Mantanani Village Homestay

Type of room
Type of room, low and high season prices
Standard single room
40 ringgit
40 ringgit
Full board: 70 ringgit per person
Room: Standard single room, low season: 40 ringgit, high season 40 ringgit. Notes: Full board: 70 ringgit per person

Where is Mantanani Village Homestay

Mantanani Village Homestay

T: (0105) 838 940 (Mainah) (0128) 255 160 (Maibi) (0148) 675 871 (Sani) 
Coordinates (for GPS): 116º21'0.46" E, 6º42'31.91" N
Room rates: Under 60 ringgit

Map for Mantanani Village Homestay

Map for Mantanani Village Homestay

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