Hotel Review 2020 – Sutera at Mantanani, Sabah

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I was really, really in need of an island getaway and have heard so much about the beautiful islands of Sabah…

So I asked a friend from STB and they recommended me to visit Pulau Mantanani….

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Pulau Mantanani is also called a mermaid island and is located in Kota Belud, some 90 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah….

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It is said that you can experience, blue skies; turquoise and azure sea views and powdery white sandy beaches..

So I decided to sign up for a trip to Pulau Mantanani….

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I flew in to Kota Kinabalu in the evening and stayed the night at the beautiful Magellan Sutera Resort.. The transfer to Pulau Mantanani was only in the morning at 7am…

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Or you can also find your own way there to the Rampayan Jetty if you can…

We were transferred by the hotel to the Rampayan Jetty, where after getting our temperatures checked, and recorded and some briefing, we boarded the boat with our luggages taken care of… The boat ride takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on sea conditions…

Mantanani actually consists of three islands – Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kecil and a tiny undisturbed island Lungisan…

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In one of the Kadazandusun’s myths, after Kinoingan (the “creator”) made the earth, he found that his new creation was not balanced. What Kinoingan did was to place two huge rocks – one rock in the mainland and the other in the sea….

The huge rock in the mainland formed the majestic Mount Kinabalu and the other one in the sea formed the Mantanani Island….

Interesting enough, both of the creations by Kinoingan played a significant role in Sabah’s landscape, history, culture and economy…

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The total population of Pulau Mantanani is about 1,200 people, who belong to the Bajau Ubian ethnic group..

The Bajau Ubian people has another etiological legend regarding the origin of the name “Mantanani” – it is said that there was once a local Bajau Ubian hero named Nani…

During WWII, he was one of the locals who was daring enough to attack the Japanese force in Jesselton… As a result, he was hunted by the Japanese soldiers… So Nani returned to Widow Island to seek refuge. But the Japanese soldiers continued to search for him on this island. When the Japanese soldiers arrived at his hiding place, Nani covered himself with a blanket, known in Bajau Ubian as “manta”, hence escaped from being noticed by the Japanese soldiers…

As this manta had saved Nani’s life, since then the locals named this island “Mantanani”….

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The view changed 10 minutes into arrival and it was simply magnificent.. It was as though we were in another world, or another country with water the shade of blue I have not seen before in Peninsula Malaysia… It was truly breathtaking…

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We arrive at Sutera @ Mantanani Island Resort & Spa. And there was another round of temperature recording before we were escorted to the front office… On a normal day, you can leave your luggage at the lobby area for storage since official check in time is about 3pm, but if there are rooms/chalets available, then you can check into your rooms/chalets…

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So since it was a low occupancy time, I got the keys to my beach chalet, so I checked in, explored my pretty accomodations for the night which was one of the beach chalets facing the beach and the wide blue sea beyond….

Built with tropical hardwood by local islanders, the chalet is spacious with wide bay windows and comes with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning & fan, an ensuite bathroom  with hot water shower and toiletries… There is a safe deposit box  and slippers in the closet.. As well a minibar and your tea/coffee making facilities

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The chalet comes with balcony area for you and your loved ones to relax and enjoy the island breeze or also to hang your wet clothings 😂… The beach is just barely 10 steps away from the door.

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At 11.30am, we gathered at the activity area where we were given our life jackets and snorkeling gears before being ushered to the boat for transfer to selected snorkeling spots…

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It is somehow just such an amazing feeling getting to see various beautiful ocean fishes & corals underwater….

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We headed to two different spots and once we have finished snorkeling we headed back to the island and had a beautiful set lunch served… The food was pretty healthy and delicious consisting of sambal fish, ginger chicken, broccoli and mushrooms, marmite prawns, herbal chicken soup served with white rice…

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After lunch, you are free to relax or do anything you want… We headed back to our chalet where we rested for a bit before deciding to go kayaking… Or at least pretending to kayak while actually we really just taking photos…

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Once we were contented with our photo session, we headed to explore the rest of the resort as well tried venting the extra pent up energy jumping on the trampoline on the beach, laughing and giggling away…

Then we went and had some snacks for tea which consisted of spring rolls and fritters before getting ready to board the boat again for our sunset cruise… Initially they had a village tour and sunset walk but because the resort and island decided to limit the contact of both islanders and guests from all over for precautions, the walk is replaced by a sunset cruise for a small fee..

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Sabah is famous for some of the best sunsets around Malaysia and it is a treat to be able to catch a glorious Sabahan sunset sinking into the horizon or the “sea”… However for me, I had some extra treats…

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I had a beautiful view of the sunset in front of me, and an amazing sight of a double rainbow at the back of me and the scary promise of a thunderstorm on the side…

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It started to drizzle as the sun was making its final descent and our boat captain urged us back and so we started the boat to head back to the resort, stopping halfway to take some photos and video of the sun disappearing for the day when we were suddenly caught in the storm and pelted by heavy rain..

Our boat captain was a professional and before we could even start to worry, he had us safely back at the jetty…

The resort staff brought us umbrellas so we could walk back to our chalet without getting totally drenched…

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When the rain subsided, we headed to the resort restaurant for our sumptuous steamboat dinner…

If you are lucky and on a lovely night, you can also join the night tour to view the bioluminescent blue tears… one of super interesting phenomena created by the Blue Plankton…

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If you are lucky and if there are many of these on the beach, the visual effects are just surreal and magical… However, since it was raining and I was pretty knackered, we headed back to our chalet where I just showered and tucked myself in the bed…

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I woke up early and headed to Jetty one, the one I found facinating and scary (since there are no barriers at the side) to watch the sunrise… And also Mount Kinabalu at the horizon which was just such a beautiful priceless sight…

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Once the sun has risen, i headed back to the chalet to rest a bit before heading back to the Resort’s Restaurant for breakfast.. The resort served a pretty nice American breakfast…

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Then my friend and I decided to explore the sand peninsula of Mantanani which was just a 5 minute walk from the resort… It was just beautiful, despite being a little dirty with some rubbish and driftwood which has been brought in by the storm and the sea… All the reasons why people should not throw their rubbish into the sea or beach (the resort staff and villagers do however periodically clean this up)…

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We then headed back to our chalet to do some packing before joining the second snorkelling (and sadly for me-the last snorkeling) session here at Mantanani…

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The staff brought us to Lingisan Island to snorkel at the shallow waters there… I was excited to be stepping on the fine sand when they warned me not to walk around too much (better to just float) for fear of stepping on some hidden stingrays around…

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Then we headed to the dead man island.. Eyh… The dead coral island there…

The corals are dying and we know it.. How can it not die (like the rest of the animals in our planet) with all the irresponsible humans around dumping toxic waste in rivers and oceans… Some tourists like to complain that they cannot see beautiful corals but before they even go snorkeling, they have sprayed or applied half a bottle or tube of sunblock on themselves… And most are not even aware how harmful most of these sunblocks are to the ocean… (that, not including the chemicals, petrol emission etc from boats and so on)

When I am headed to the beach, I do take some precaution in choosing my sunblock to ensure it is chemical free, or just go without and slather on a dollop of aloe vera after coming back on the face, arms, shoulders…

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The dead coral island is another facinating place it is an island in the middle of the sea made from dead corals which has been brought there naturally by the waves to forming an island…. It sounds creepy but the corals around the dead coral island are pretty beautiful and there are more fishes here too… The downside is that these corals can be pretty sharp and dangerous and can cause scratches or cuts if not careful. So its better to wear your water / aqua shoes or slippers when walking around this island…. But like everything, there is beauty in even a dead coral island as you can see in my photos…

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We then headed back to Sutera at Mantanani where we quickly showered, check out, had a quick but still sumptuous and healthy lunch before boarding the boat at Jetty 2 back to Rampayan Jetty where the Toyota Fortuner was waiting to transfer us back to Kota Kinabalu…

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One thing is for sure, there is no time to get bored at Sutera at Mantanani, because there is just sooo many things you can do, including jogging along the beach or walking in the garden, board games, swings, slides, atv, fishing, hammocking and so much more…

Overall it was an amazing trip, one I would dearly love to repeat again soon… The staff at Sutera at Mantanani are jist friendly and accomodative and the experience of staying there and experiencing the island is truly a priceless one that will be always remembered …

Sutera at Mantanani is having a really good offer at the moment and so. If you are heading to Kota Kinabalu or already there, you really have to add this to your itinerary…

For more info, check out
https://www.suteraatmantanani.com/kota-kinabalu-island-resort/

Address –Pulau Mantanani Besar, Kampong Mantanani, Kota Belud 89150, Sabah

Note – This trip was hosted by Sutera Harbour /Sutera Mantanani but all opinions and what is written here are my own thoughts…

Thank you to Sutera Harbour and Sabah Tourism for the opportunity…

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