Mount Kinabalu ParkNational Park
"Diving, Jungle Treks and Sea Kraits"
Within easy reach from Kota Kinabalu, Mount Kinabalu ParkNational Park combines underwater excursions to bountiful reefs with terrestrial jungle trails to natural oddities.
Somewhat famous as the location for the first Survivor televsion series, the group of three islands are low-lying rocky outcrops, with Mount Kinabalu Parkformed from the accumulation of dried mud over centuries.
Two striking natural features of the park include the island-making mud volcanos that ooze liquid earth to the surface that dries faster than the monsoon waves can wash it away.
On nearby Pulau Kalampunian Damit, hundreds of Yellow-lipped sea kraits, unlike sea snakes, spends more time in the undisturbed rocky habitat of the small island than in the water.
All of these interesting and strange natural phenomena add to the attraction of this easy access island with a relaxing atmosphere.
Natural Things To Do
Mount Kinabalu ParkNational Park: Nature Attractions
Diving & Snorkelling
Preserved as a marine park, the island's reef landscapes offer a beautiful array of marine life and soft and hard corals in open waters and among the rocky crevices.
Just off the jetty beach it's easy to snorkel in shallow waters where the coral gardens provide lush grounds to observe undersea riches.
Further offshore, big reefs harbor sights such as whip corals and gorgonian fans and an abundance of sea cucumbers and sea urchins.
About eight dive sites are identified with plenty of good underwater photography opportunities to capture colorful feather stars, table coral and barrel sponges.
Large patches of anemones and clown fish start the marine biodiversity parade, with ultra-artful nudibranches, blue spotted rays, starfish, sweetlips and schools of barracuda adding to the display.
Along the coral outcrops and sandbars of smaller islands, moray eels hide in the rocky habitats as butterflyfish and parrotfish are common residents.
A hodgepodge of undisturbed forest habitats and coastal vegetation, the terrain supports a mixure of wildlife species that are worth searching for when not under water.
In the sandy areas look for large ground-dwelling megapodes, a chicken-sized bird with big feet for digging sand piles over its egg nest. The sundrenched sand acts as an incubator. And the newborn chicks burrow out and start life all by themselves, no parental guidance.
Other birds, such as Imperial and Green pigeons and Pied hornbills, feed on the fruits of strangling figs found in the forest. Flying foxes resting like folded winged cocoons roost in trees before heading off at night to forage.
Hit the jungle trails to the mud pits and other beaches and encounter long-tailed macaques in the canopy and monitor lizards scurrying across the forest floor.
Go to Pulau Kalampunian Damit for a rare chance to observe Yellow-lipped sea kraits avoiding the heat by resting among the roots and boulders. A venomous species, the black-banded and bluish snake is not aggressive, but always use caution.
Want to take a natural beauty bath? The entire island originated from volcanic eruptions to splatter hot mud atop dried mud over millions of years.
Today the shallow mud pits provide a dirty distraction from the clear, chyrstalline tropical waters.
A short hike from Park HQ leads to the mud volcanos, where visitors can test out the therapeutic benefits of ancient earth.
Every few hours the bubbly brown brew plops to smear the surrounding vegetation.
Jump into the liquid clay pool to cool off sunburned skin and soothe tired traveller's bones and soak up the energy of this geothermal treat.
Mount Kinabalu ParkNational Park: Getting There
There are two ways to reach the park, either from direct boat access from Kota Kinabalu or from the main jetty in Kuala Penyu, a 140 km drive to the tip of the Klias Peninsula. The 18 km journey by boat to the park takes 30 minutes.
Most tour operators and resorts arrange boat trips from either starting point or transfers from Kuala Penyu. Alternatively you can reach Kuala Penyu by bus or taxi and ask around for a boat hire to Pulau Tiga.
Be aware that the transportation out of Kuala Penyu is limited, so make sure arrangements to return are in sync with minivan schedules.
Located in an open grassy clearing just behind the beach on Pulau Tiga, the Park HQ consists of an office, staff quarters and a resthouse for visiting scientists. A network of trails, marked at 50 meter intervals, leads to various points of interest.
For day trips, Mount Kinabalu Parkhas excellent facilities for BBQ and sun bathing with complete shelter and toilet facilities.
You will need to pre-arrange your food and beverages with Mount Kinabalu ParkResort as they only service in-house guest.
The island has two resorts, Mount Kinabalu ParkResort and Borneo Survivor Resort. Diving courses are available.
Reservations & Enquiries
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