Kota Kinabalu may be synonymous with its mountainous namesake, but there’s so much more to the capital of Sabah, Borneo. The city’s close proximity to beaches, islands, wildlife, and culture means that there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s how to make the most of one day in KK.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TARP)
Several guided half- and full-day trips departing from Kota Kinabalu explore Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park. Choose a boat tour featuring ample time for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxation—or opt for an excursion that includes a ride on the Coral Flyer zipline connecting two of the islands. Scuba diving tours cater to all levels of experience with a range of PADI courses, while sunset dinner cruises reveal the marine park at its most magical.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The park headquarters is located on Gaya Island, which (along with Manukan and Mamutik) offers eco-friendly overnight accommodation.
- The most developed of the islands, Manukan and Sapi have restrooms, snack shops, and simple restaurants.
How to Get There
Boats destined for Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park depart regularly for Sapi Island from the Jesselton Point ferry terminal—find the schedule online. There are several different operators, so ensure you’re on the correct boat.
When to Get There
Though this part of Borneo doesn’t experience an intense monsoon season, it’s best to visit sometime between March and October, when the seas are calm and marine life is plentiful.
Jungle Trekking on the Islands If you prefer to stay on dry land, check out Gaya Island, the largest in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park. Hike more than 12 miles (19 kilometers) of trails that harbor wildlife such as proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, monitor lizards, hornbills, and bearded pigs.
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- Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya)
- Sapi Island (Pulau Sapi)
- Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan)
- North Borneo Railway
- Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu)
- Signal Hill Observatory Platform
- Sabah State Mosque (Masjid Negeri Sabah)
- Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre
- Sabah Museum (Sabah State Museum)
- Monsopiad Cultural Village
- Mari Mari Cultural Village
- Kota Belud
- Mt. Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu)
- Kinabalu National Park
- Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)