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Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman park comprises a group of five islands located only 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two thirds of which is sea. The five idyllic islands, Manukan, Mamutik, Sulug, Gaya and Sapi have soft white beaches and are teeming with fish and coral, perfect for beginner divers as well as snorkelers and picnickers. Gaya and Sapi Islands also have hiking trails through their pristine jungles. These islands are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including one of the most intriguing birds, the Megapode or Burung Tambun, a chicken lookalike with large feet and makes a meowing sound like a cat.
  1. The second largest island in the park, Manukan is the most popular with Kota Kinabalu residents. Manukan has some good stretches of beaches on the southern coastline. The best beach is on the eastern tip of the island. Off shores of Manukan are coral reefs, which are ideal for snorkelling, diving and swimming. Out of 5 islands, Manukan features the most developed tourist facilities that include 20 units of chalets, a clubhouse, and few restaurants and a diving centre. Recreation facilities include a swimming pool, football field, squash and tennis courts. Infrastructural facilities include support-water, electricity, desalination plant, sewerage system, and even a solar public telephone. It is covered in dense vegetation and has hiking trails.
  2. Gaya derived its name from the Bajau word "Gayo" which means big, occupies an area of 15 square kilometers (3,700 acres) and an elevation of 300 meters. Several ridges, rising more than 600 feet (180 m) and peaking at 1,000 feet (300 m), form the backbone of Pulau Gaya. Gaya is the largest island of the park, closest to downtown Kota Kinabalu and is covered with dense virgin tropical forest. It has been a forest reserve since 1923. The island has a Marine Ecology Research Centre, hiking trails and some resorts. However, it is also host to a very large (and growing) stilt village located just opposite the KK waterfront. Be sure to stay at Gayana Island Resort should you plan a visit here. Gayana is nestled in the tropical wilderness of the largest of the five islands, Gaya Island and here, one will be caressed by gentle, lapping waters of the South China Sea and their senses rejuvenated by the sounds and mystery of the primordial jungle. The coral reefs along the entire coast of island are in excellent condition.
  3. The 15 acres island makes Mamutik the smallest of the park. Despite being the smallest, the island offers some good beaches and coral reefs. It also has a jetty, a 3 bedroom rest house for rent, and staff quarters for Rangers station. Facilities include changing rooms, toilets, picnic shelters, tables and barbecue pits. Fresh water and electricity are available.
  4. Pulau Sapi, literally known as "Cow Island" in Malay is just off the south-western tip of Pulau Gaya. The 25 acre (10 ha) island features one of the nicest beaches in the park and most popular with tourists for snorkelling and scuba diving. It is developed with tourist facilities that include a jetty, picnic shelters, barbecue pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets. The forest is inhabited by macaques. Camping is allowed with the permission from the Park Warden.
  5. Sulug is the farthest island of them all. Considered relatively untouched, remote and undeveloped, the 20 acre (16 ha) island is more popular with foreign tourists who prefer a quiet and tranquil atmosphere. Good reef patches lie along the southern end of the island. During formation, a long sand spit jutting out into the ocean formed a round hill.
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