An Explorer’s Guide to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

An Explorer’s Guide to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and escape somewhere more paradisiacal? Then a trip to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is called for.

Crystal-clear waters, bustling marine life and swaying trees are just some of the things that await you in this marine park. So if you’re craving a different kind of adventure, this is the right place for you!

Join us here as we take a closer look at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and everything it offers. Get ready to discover the best hotels to stay in, restaurants to check out and, of course, must-try activities when you eventually visit this hidden gem in Kota Kinabalu!

Best Time to Go

Since this is a tropical destination after all, the best time to visit is during Kota Kinabalu’s dry season, which runs from December to March. During these months, there’ll be sunny clear skies, and calmer and clearer waters, perfect for activities like snorkelling, diving, etc.

These months, however, are considered peak dates so you’ll more likely encounter crowds during your trip to the island. If you want to avoid crowds but still want to enjoy somewhat pleasant weather, try scheduling your trip during the shoulder season (April and May).

Just be sure to avoid visiting during the low season (June to November), as these months see the most rainfall throughout the year. 

Although these months will let you book cheaper flights and accommodation, the weather can hinder you from engaging in different kinds of activities and spoil your trip as a whole.

Things to Know

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit

(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Malay, English

Calling Code: +60

Address: Manukan Island, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 88-486 430


Entrance fee:

  • Non-Malaysian:
  • 18 years old and above: RM25
  • 17 years old and below: RM20
  • 60 years old and above: RM20
  • Malaysian:
  • 18 years old and above: RM8
  • 17 years old and below: RM5
  • 60 years old and above, 12 years old and below: Free

Scuba diving fee:

  • Malaysian: RM100
  • Non-Malaysian: RM200

Operating hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

How to Get There

Ferry: The only way you can get to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is by riding the ferry that departs from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal in Kota Kinabalu. This ferry starts departing every hour, usually from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

You’re usually looking to spend around RM17 for a one-way trip. Furthermore, you can always compare prices between different operators on the jetty to find the best amount that works for you.

Plane: Riding the plane is the fastest way to get to the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal if you’re coming from outside the state/country. Upon departing, you can either ride a taxi, book a Grab or even walk towards the ferry terminal if you’re up for the adventure.

Where to Stay

Manukan Island Resort

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Address: Lot G15, Ground Floor, Kota Kinabalu, 88100 Manukan Island, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 88-243 629

Pricing: $$-$$$

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Manukan Island Resort is one of the premier places to stay on the island. It’s the perfect option for those who don’t want to travel far before or after visiting the marine park, as it’s only a couple of minutes away.

Location aside, Manukan Island Resort is a great place to stay because of its high-quality rooms that come complete with modern facilities. Outside these rooms, you’ll be treated to a beautiful outdoor pool where you and your loved ones can cool down during a nice sunny day.

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru

Address: No. 20, Jalan Aru, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 17-420 9358

Pricing: $$$

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If you’re looking for a lavish place to stay during your trip to the marine park, then look no further than Shangri-La Tanjung Aru! Synonymous with luxury, this hotel will treat you with premium rooms that come with everything you and your loved ones may need for a comfortable stay.

It’s also located near the shore so you’ll get to catch magnificent views of the glistening sea throughout your stay!

Aside from sightseeing, you can also enjoy a nice and relaxing day at the hotel’s swimming pool and spa.

Lintas Platinum Hotel

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Address: Jalan Lintas Khidmat, Taman Jaya, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 88-742 277

Pricing: $-$$

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Lintas Platinum Hotel is a great option if you want to check into your hotel as soon as you land in Kota Kinabalu since it’s only minutes away from the airport. It’s also a prime location, as it’s near other establishments like restaurants, convenience stores and more.

The hotel itself isn’t too bad as well, considering its relatively cheaper price point compared to other resorts in the area. Each room is fitted with huge comfy beds, en-suite bathrooms, free Wi-Fi and a boatload of other amenities.

fThe Magellan Sutera Resort

Address: The Magellan Sutera Resort, 1 Sutera Harbour Boulevard, Sutera Harbour, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 88-318 888

Pricing: $$$

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The Magellan Sutera Resort is a world-class 5-star hotel that’s suited to give you the comfiest and most memorable stay in Kota Kinabalu. It features all the bells and whistles that you’d typically expect from a hotel of this calibre, from world-class rooms to amazing facilities, etc.

Among these facilities is the beautiful outdoor swimming pool, which overlooks the breathtaking South China Sea!

Lastly, the hotel also features an in-house restaurant that offers a wide buffet spread—perfect for replenishing your energy after a whole day of activities!

Gaya Island Resort

Address: Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 3-7932 6582

Pricing: $$$

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If you’re planning on visiting the neighbouring Gaya Island, the best place to crash is the Gaya Island Resort! This premium resort will make you feel like you’re in the Maldives, with its beautiful chalets and equally magnificent swimming pool.

Plus, the views that you’ll be treated to while you’re here will be unmatched! Featuring lush greenery and beautiful cerulean waters as far as the eye can see, you’ll have no problem sightseeing while you’re here.

Lastly, this resort also features a world-class spa village where you can pamper yourself and feel like a brand new person afterwards!

Where to Eat near Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Grill Fish Buginese Restaurant

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Address: 78, 1, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 19-575 8089

Pricing: $-$$


Before setting off to the marine park on Manukan Island, we recommend exploring Kota Kinabalu and its amazing restaurants. A perfect example of this is Grill Fish Buginese Restaurant, which we think is a must-try for anyone who loves seafood.

Among their offerings is our personal favourite, the fried calamari, which goes exceptionally well with their homemade sauce.

If you’re not big into seafood, don’t worry! They also offer a delicious version of fried chicken, which is best paired with their fragrant rice.

Lucy’s Kitchen

Address: 8597, Jalan Aru, Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Phone: +60 88-201 866

Pricing: $


If you’re craving some authentic Malay food while you’re in Kota Kinabalu, then Lucy’s Kitchen should be right up your alley! 

From nasi lemak to rendang and anything in between, this humble kitchen serves all the staples of Malay cuisine, and the best part is you don’t have to spend a lot! Meanwhile, you can feast on their delicious sweet and sour fish if you’re craving seafood.

Plus, the restaurant overlooks one of Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches, Tanjung Aru Beach! This beautiful view beats any kind of fancy restaurant you’ll find in the city any day of the week!

Ikan Bakar Sabah

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Address: Lot 100, Jalan Sungai Sop Batu 14, Pekan Batu 14 Hulu Langat, 43100 Hulu Langat, Selangor, Malaysia

Phone: +60 19-294 2211

Pricing: $$


It would be a missed opportunity to be this close to the sea without trying some of Kota Kinabalu’s finest seafood. For this need, one of the best places you can check out in the area is Ikan Bakar Sabah, as it serves some of the freshest seafood delicacies on the island.

You can’t go wrong with any of the items on their menu, but one dish that we can’t recommend enough is their buttered prawn. The sweet meat of these prawns is perfectly complemented by the sweet and creamy butter as they’re cooked in a slightly tangy sauce.

It’s also worth noting that the restaurant also treats its diners with some live music thanks to the local buskers singing their hearts out every day. These performances matched with the tropical vibe of the restaurant make for an amazing dining experience!

What to Do in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Embark on an exciting island-hopping adventure

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If Manukan Island isn’t enough to satisfy your search for beautiful beaches and equally majestic marine life, then you should embark on an exciting island-hopping adventure! With this activity, you and your loved ones will get to ride a speed boat and travel to neighbouring islands as well!

Some of the islands you’ll get to visit during this activity include Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Sulug. Each of these islands offers a different kind of beauty as well as activities that can add more memorable moments to your trip!

Meet majestic sea creatures while snorkelling and diving

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Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is home to bustling marine life, so you can expect to see tons of sea creatures during one of your snorkelling sessions. Whether it be fish, whales, stingrays, coral reefs and more, you’re guaranteed to see these beautiful life forms here.

Meanwhile, if you want to get more up close and personal with what the cerulean waters have to offer, you can go on a scuba diving adventure! You’ll be provided with state-of-the-art diving equipment and you’ll be free to explore the depths of the sea.

Arrange a picnic by the beach

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One of the simplest yet most magical experiences you can try in the marine park is to arrange a picnic by the beach. All you have to do is bring your favourite snacks and precooked homemade meals, and you’re all set!

The beach features several gazebos and benches where you can just sit back, feast on your favourite dishes and admire the beautiful surrounding views!

Enjoy a refreshing dip

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You don’t have to try crazy activities just to enjoy the marine park and everything it offers. Sometimes, it’s nice to just submerge your body into the crystal-clear water and swim among the different kinds of fish!

Apps to Download for a Trip to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Travel Malaysia: A pocket travel guide to Malaysia

iOs | Android Offline map of the world

iOs | Android

XE Currency App: Real-time currency exchange rate app

iOs | Android

Grab: Ride-hailing app of Southeast Asia

iOs | Android

Google Translate: word translation with offline capabilities

iOs | Android

CatchThatBus: Bus ticket booking app