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Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park comprises a group of 5 islands located between 3 to 8 km off Kota Kinabalu. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two thirds of which cover the sea. Before the Ice Age, it formed part of the Crocker Range mass of sandstone and sedimentary rock on the mainland.

However, about one million years ago, the melting ice brought about changes in the sea level and parts of the mainland were cut off by the sea to form the islands of Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Sulug Island. Evidence of this can be seen from the exposed sandstone of the coastline forming the cliffs, caves, honeycombs and deep crevices. The beauty of its natural environment combined with its close proximity to the mainland makes the island group a favourite among picnickers, divers and nature lovers. In a bid to protect the natural environment with its coral reefs, marine life, and its flora and fauna, the islands were gazetted as a National Park, beginning with Sapi Island and part of Gaya Island in 1974 and then embracing the other three islands in 1979.


 Sapi and Gaya

Mamutik and Sulug

Sulug Island

Snorkeling at Mamutik Island

Flora and Fauna

The plant life features a mix of typical shoreline vegetation like the Pandanus dubius and Podocarpus polystachyus. Representative of the latter group is Keruing, with their narrow crowns of large dark green leaves and unique ridged two-winged fruits. The Seraya, Kapur and Selagan Batu are also in abundance. The only undisturbed coastal dipterocarp forests are on Pulau Gaya, where the Hopea phillipineansis and Quassia borneensis are found. The Fish Tail and Nibong Palm flourish in the shady gulley.

The park is home to the bearded pig, scaly pangolin, rats, squirrels and monkeys. Snakes and monitor lizards make up the reptile population. Large birds such as the white breasted sea-eagle, pied hornbill and green heron are found in large numbers. Smaller varieties such as the sandpiper, the pink-necked green pigeon, bulbul, flycatcher, sunbird and swiftlets also flourish within the park.

One of the most intriguing birds around is the Megapode or Burung Tambun, a 'chicken look-alike' with large feet that ironically, meows like a cat! It lays its eggs in huge mounds of sand and leaves them at the edge of the beach. The fermentation of the leaves produces the heat, which is necessary to incubate the eggs for successful hatching.

The best coral reefs are those between Sapi Island and Gaya Island. The colourful and delicately beautiful corals are living organisms which feed on the plankton floating in the sea. The reef is home to many different kinds of fish like butterfly fish, parrot fish, clown fish and dragon fish. If you're lucky, you will stumble upon the bigger species such as red grouper, barracuda and catfish. Other interesting marine life to look out for are mollusks, giant clams, sea cucumbers, the beautiful feather starfish, sea urchins in brilliant hues, cowrie and scorpion shells .

 Diving at TARP

Lion Fish


The Islands



MANUKAN ISLAND - Shaped like a boomerang, Manukan covers 51 acres and is the second largest island in the group. The surrounding crystal clear water is ideal for snorkeling, diving and swimming. Trails around the island provide endless hours of trekking in the cool, shady forest.

Facilities such as chalets, clubhouse, restaurants, souvenir centre, diving centre, a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts are provided to make your stay an enjoyable and fun-filled experience.




SULUG ISLAND – This 20-acre island, being the least developed and the farthest from the other islands has an almost untouched quality making it ideal for those seeking tranquillity. The shoreline is filled with rock and beautiful patches of reefs at the southern end. Corals such as the Acropora, Echnipora, Montipora and Seriapora are a visual delight as it comes in a variety, delicate shape and brilliant colours.

Facilities such as changing rooms and toilets; picnic shelters and tables are provided for day trippers. There are no accommodation facilities but overnight camping on the island is allowed with prior permission from the Park Warden.


Beach at Sapi Island

Jetty at Manukan Island

Underwater TARP




SAPI ISLAND – This island has a distinct advantage of having some of the nicest beaches with white sand, sparkling crystal clear water and a coastline fringed with beautiful coral reefs. It is the ideal place for snorkeling, diving and swimming. If you can do neither of this but do not want to be left out from discovering underwater treasures, take a glass boat rental service instead. Hiking trails through the interior provide an excellent opportunity for nature appreciation. There are no accommodation facilities but picnic shelters, barbeque pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets are provided for day use. Camping is allowed with the permission of the Park Warden.



GAYA ISLAND – The island is located about 15 miles off Kota Kinabalu. The 3,665 acre island has 16 miles of shoreline and stretches consisting of fine white sand. Popular beaches include Bulijong Bay and Police beach that comes with a quarter mile of beautiful sand sloping, perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The untouched coastal dipterocarp forest makes it ideal for trekking and graded nature trails. It also provides opportunities to study the various species of plant and animal life within. Facilities include public shelters, changing rooms and public toilets


Dive Spots

Dive Fact Sheet Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

What to expect : Ghost Pipefish, Scorpion fish, Clownfish, and Frogfish
Average Visibility : 10 - 15 m
Average water temperature : 23 - 29 °C
Depth : 5 - 23 m
Number of dive site : 7 - Bulijong Bay, Clement Reef, Sapi Jetty, Edgell Patch, Midreef, Manukan Reef, Sulug Reef
Must dive : Sulug Reef

Getting There

Daily boat services are available from the Kota Kinabalu jetty.  Transfer takes about 10 to 15 minutes.


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