We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Beautiful Island”
Review of Mantanani Island

Mantanani Island
Ranked #55 of 194 things to do in Sabah
Attraction details
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
43 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“Beautiful Island”
Reviewed July 31, 2014

I came here on an organised charity trip to help construct a primary school classroom for the local village. From the moment we got there to the moment we left, we were warmly welcomed by the locals and always felt safe and secure.
We stayed on the south side of the island, where we had a camp set up for us with numerous tents and a communal hut where we ate lunch and dinner. I'm assuming most people on here would be using the huts on the island and not staying in a tent!
The boat ride over to the island from Kinabalu took about an hour and half, but it was lovely to be out in the ocean, make the most of it while you are going over. On the island there are a couple of shop, mainly selling packaged food and cans of beer/coke ect.
The weather was perfect for most of our stay, however we did end up in the middle of a typhoon, which caused a lot of rain and strong winds for 2 days. Really it was the difference in the ocean that was very visible, with 2-3 metre high waves and debris being thrown around. Of course coming from London and seeing this, it was rather more exciting than annoying!
The main pull to this island is obviously the ocean. We all qualified for our Open Water PADI while we were there. We learnt in a calm cove, which stayed about 3 feet deep for about 500 metres out to sea. The water itself was 32 degrees, so it was literally like getting into a bath. Absolute heaven!
One of the reasons why we were there, and something that we noticed while snorkelling and diving, was the extent of the damage to the coral. While there we attended classes on marine life and then held classes with the children and teens of the island, teaching them about the importance of looking after their ocean.
Unfortunately, the coral is very bleached. If you want amazingly coloured coral, go to Sharm, you wont find it here. However there is still plenty of marine life, we even saw turtles and large stingrays during our dives.
All in all, this was a beautiful, cultural place to stay, and all of us enjoyed it massively.

Visited August 2013
2 Thank KirstyKelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

115 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2014 via mobile

We are thinking to visit Mantanani island for a few nights but can anyone tell me if the resorts has aircon available? And also which of these few island is worth to stay at?

5 Thank Sharon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
16 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Read the reviews first!”
Reviewed July 12, 2014

We made the mistake of not reading the reviews and booked this through our concierge at our hotel. We left from Kota Kinabalu and it took about 90 mins to reach the "ferry". The flyer said we would take a ferry to the island and it showed a picture of a large 2 deck boat. In reality it was a single deck river boat that seated about 24 people, we thought it would take us to the ferry, we thought wrong! After a 10 mins of the boat being driven in an erratic stop/start fashion we hit the open sea, at this point it was clear that this boat was going to be our only way there.
Another 10 mins later we had been thrown around the boat, hitting the waves was making you lift out of you seat and crash back down (not great if you have a bad back) I was soaking wet too (if you take phone/camera etc. make sure it's in a waterproof bag) and feeling extremely sick, several times the driver (who looked all of 18) was told to calm down by people on the boat, this just seemed to fuel his stupidity (there were several small children on board and I was worried for them) it took some shouting and some pretty strong language to make him turn back and take us to the safety of dry land. Needless to say the first thing we did went we returned was demanded our money back, it was refunded back at our hotel. We were told that they stopped using the big ferries about a year ago and the rep from the tour company had not been on the trip to see what it was like since the change.

If you like the thrills and spills of this kind of adventure then go ahead, I think Malaysia has had enough boat disasters already, this just seems to be another one in the making. It was a shame though we never got to see the island but I value my life.

Visited June 2014
6 Thank Smiffles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Beautiful and relax”
Reviewed May 26, 2014

It's a really beautiful isolated island from the main land Sabah. Peaceful and attractive. Adult can do snorkelling, kids can play on the beach, pick up shells and tiny white crabs. If you feel tired, you can sleep under a palm tree and relax yourself.

Visited April 2014
Thank Jackie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Biarritz, France
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Do not expect to see dugongs, they are long gone and the snorkeling is not good!”
Reviewed May 13, 2014

We stayed on the Mantanani Islands for 3 nights at the Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge in a dorm.
The dorm is very clean and so are the bathrooms and restrooms.
The staff managed to reserve a dorm for us as we were a couple but I guess it's because it was low season.

We were pretty disappointed by the snorkeling: there is none! We had to go an hour away to expect to see clown fishes and see the reef.
That part was pretty bad considering they do advertise on seeing dugongs and amazing snorkeling !

The food there is not so good so do not expect to gain weight ;)

Overall the beach is nice and if you want to relax then you found the perfect spot!

Visited April 2014
1 Thank Nalita13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Mantanani Island also viewed

Semporna, Semporna District
Semporna District, Sabah
Sandakan, Sandakan Division

Been to Mantanani Island? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing