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Pulau Sapi, located just ten minutes by boat from Kota Kinabalu, is one of the most accessible snorkeling spots in Sabah. On its shallow reefs, protected by a National Park, snorkelers can expect to see butterflyfish, groupers, parrotfish, and several species of anemonefish.
Pulau Sapi (Sapi Island) is the second smallest island of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, near Kota Kinabalu city.
The cheapest way to reach this spot is to get to the island by boat from Kota Kinabalu. The round trip costs RM30pp. (2020), to which must be added RM10pp. (for foreigners) for the National Park conservation fee. The boat trip takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Many tour operators in the region also offer all-inclusive tours to Pulau Sapi and other islands in the National Park. These trips usually include boat transfer, conservation fees, lunch, snorkeling equipment, and a guide. Price ranges from RM150 to RM180 per person for the day.
You can enter the water directly from the sandy beach. Area 1, to the left of the pontoon, is the most recommended snorkeling location.
There are two recommended snorkeling areas in Pulau Sapi, located on either side of the pontoon from which you reach the island. These areas match the swimming areas bound by buoy lines. Beyond that point, the boat traffic makes snorkeling dangerous.
It is to the left of the pontoon, in front of the main beach, that the most lively seabed is found (area 1 on the map). Here, a coral reef stretches from the beach to the rocky point that closes the small bay. On the other side (zone 2 on the map), the reef is less extensive and more sandy.
Parts of the reef are well preserved with a nice diversity of corals, such as branching coral, finger coral, brain coral, and mushroom coral. Numerous crinoids and sea anemones are also found on the reef.
Among the anemones, you will spot several species of anemonefish. The most common are the ocellaris clownfish, the spinecheek anemonefish, and the Clark’s clownfish.
Several species of butterflyfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish, sergeants, damselfish, and groupers are also easy to see on this spot. With a little luck, you might note a cuttlefish camouflaged on the seabed.
There is a snack/café, a mini-market, and a snorkeling equipment rental stand on the island. If you opt for a day trip, lunch on the beach is usually included. To be confirmed when booking.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Small island fringed by a shallow coral reef
Level: Resort nearby
Vibrant coral reef with colorful fish
Vibrant coral reef and seagrass meadows with sea turtles
Coral reef with a nice diversity of corals