Photo: White sands ahoy!

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

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A short boat ride from KK, the five islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park offer squeaky white sands, azure waters and hiking trails though areas of old growth forest and mangroves, with an abundance of wildlife both below and above the waters. It’s a highly recommend day trip, but you won’ t be alone. Unfortunately, much of the more accessible coral has been damaged by the ever-increasing hordes.

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Crowds flock to the beaches daily and it gets busier weekends and holidays. For an overnight stay, most of the accommodation offered is top-range resorts, but camping is available on some of the islands (five ringgit fee per adult/two ringgit per child), with tents for hire for 35 ringgit. Daytrippers are gone by late afternoon, and you will have the island essentially to yourself.

Camp over to avoid the crowds. Photo taken in or around Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Camp over to avoid the crowds. Photo: Sally Arnold

Commonly referred to as TAR Marine Park, the park was named after Malaysia’ s first prime minister. The five islands, Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik, all have their unique characteristics and several can be visited in one day. Boats depart daily from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal at the northern end of Kota Kinabalu, along Jalan Fuad Stephens from 8:30-16:30, about every 20 minutes. It takes 15-20 minutes to get to the islands. The last boat back to Kota Kinabalu leaves at 17:00.

Most operators only offer trips to the more popular islands of Manukan, Sapi and Mamutik. Several companies advertise that you can visit five islands in one day, but in reality, the most any will take you to is three and you must arrive by 08:00 to do that. After 11:00 you will only be able to visit one island unless you charter your own boat, which costs 204 ringgit for one island plus an additional 50 ringgit per boat for special pickup times or overnight stays. The set price for the regular return boat service is 23 ringgit for adults, and 18 ringgit for kids plus a terminal fee of 7.63 ringgit for adults and 3.88 ringgit for students (with ID card) and kids. Kids above 12 are considered an adult and below two are free. Add 10 ringgit for each ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,000 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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