Island Hopping at Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah

Our day began at the public jetty of Sampoerna where dozens of boats waited to bring their designated passengers island hopping and/or to the floating resorts /island resorts…

We boarded to boat at about 9.30am bound for Lato Lato Mun Resort which was our home for the night…

Once at Lato Lato Mun Resort, we left our luggages at the lobby before boarding the boat again for island hopping…

Tun Sakaran Marine Park which was named after then the Head of State of Sabah, Tun Sakaran Dandai, was gazetted in July 2004 as Sabah’s seventh park. The park is the largest Marine Park in Sabah covering 340 sq kilometers of sea and corals reef and 10 sq kilometers of land….

Tun Sakaran Marine Park comprises of 8 islands, their surrounding reefs, and sea….

It is said that the islands are formed from quaternary pyroclastic material, which had been ejected during explosive volcanic activity, a long long time ago… And from that, Bodgaya island, Boheydulang island, Tetagan island, Selakan island, Sebangkat island, Maiga island, Sibuan island and Mantabuan island were formed….

As my friends and I were staying over at Lato Lato Mun Resort, and following the island hopping trip, this particular trip covered Bohey Dulang island, Mantabuan island and Sibuan island..

These three islands are also part of the 8 top beautiful islands which you can do island hopping from Semporna and other places.. (There are many other islands around but these 8 islands are the most famous for visitors to island hop..)

They are divided into three groups… The first group would be the famous Sipadan and Mabul, the second group would consist of Bohey Dulang island, Mantabuan island and Sibuan island and the third group consist of Mataking island, Pom Pom island and Timba Timba island… I happened to ask my boatman which was his favourite island and he said Mataking Island… Now that makes me wanna go there one fine day…

Anyway, Bohey Dulang is the second-largest island in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park…

A shallow channel separates Bohey Dulang from the park’s largest island, Bodgaya.

Bohey Dulang island, along with neighbouring island Bodgaya and the parks’ reefs, were once part of an extinct volcanic crater. Now flooded with seawater, it’s a large, beautiful 25-metres deep lagoon…

The views of that lagoon from Bohey Dulang’s highest point are what draws most people to the island. From the 353m-high viewpoint, visitors are greeted by an almost surreal panorama of the lagoon’s crystal-clear waters and the coral reefs that lie beneath. Hiking and climbing to the top is roughly 45 minutes – following the 700m hiking trail which winds around the island and leads you to the peak….

It was definitely not a walk in the park and I was questioning my own sanity while huffing and puffing my way up red faced and sweaty but once you get to the top, the views from this vantage point are truly just amazing – you will bear witness the sparkling turquoise sea, neighbouring verdant islands and the crater lagoon with 50 shades of blue (just figuratively speaking)…

From the second largest island of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, we headed over to the smallest island under Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Mantabuan Island….

Our boatman brought us there to have our lunch which had been packed in tupperwares/reusable plastic containers… Although the food was simple consisting of rice, chicken and vegetables, it was still delicious, made even more so after the exhaustingly tough climb up Bohey Dulang that left my knees shaking…

The little Mantabuan island is located just ±2km from the northern coasts of Bohey Dulang and Bodgaya, and is inhabited by a small, friendly community of Sea Gypsies (Bajau Laut), who live in houseboats or stilt houses built over coral reefs…

The Malaysian army operates a military base on the island with an army outpost that comes complete with artillery and sandbags…

We finished our lunch and did some snorkeling around the area…

The last stop for the day was Pulau Sibuan, which is pretty much famed for its beauty even before Sipadan was discovered… This tear-shaped sand cay is situated about 30 minutes from Semporna and is considered one of the most picturesque islands in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, due to its largely untouched conditions….

Whether you choose to come here for snorkeling, diving or a picnic, you’ll find that Sibuan Island is truly hard to beat as far as beauty and underwater splendor is concerned.

At Sibuan island we saw some of the Bajau Laut native children, enjoyed walking and taking photos at the sandbank before our boatman let us off the boat for snorkeling activities…

There were many fishes here, especially the Sergeant major fishes and blue starfishes… However, those snorkeling here must be cautious as there are also jellyfishes… A couple of ladies got slightly stung by some jellyfishes…

After we were done with snorkeling, we headed back to Lato Lato Mun resort to check in and rest….

For accomodation at Lato Lato Mun Resort and island hopping at Tun Sakaran Marine Park, check out http://www.latolatoresort.com/

This trip was made possible with the kind assistance of www.sabahtourism.com

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