The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 3 October 2014

Beach picnic @ Pulau Manukan, Sabah (Malaysia)

One of the things we were told to do in Kota Kinabalu was to visit one (or more) of the islands off the coast of KK. This group of five islands make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Malaysia's first marine park. Given that we were travelling with a 5-year-old and an infant, visiting more than one island was not feasible, so we selected Pulau Manukan solely on the fact that it featured the most developed tourist facilities out of the five islands. I would have loved to explore the more remote and undeveloped islands, but travelling with kids often doesn't allow me the luxury to choose the more adventurous options (travelling with kids is still better than not travelling!). We arrived at the ferry terminal in downtown KK, and after enquiring at a few counters for ferry times and ticket costs, we settled on one company whose schedule and pricing suited us. Then we donned our lifejackets and off we went on a speedboat for a 15-20 minute ride that was speedy, bumpy and splashy at times. It was a good thing I had my 6-month old baby safely strapped onto me via a carrier, and we were amazed that she napped through the ride!

In the speedboat watching the coastline of Kota Kinabalu disappear:

Arriving at the pier in Manukan Island:

We plonked ourselves, bags, snorkel equipment and food down at the first vacant table we saw, which happened to be one of the first ones to the right of the above pier. And here we stayed for the next few hours enjoying the sand, beach and water:

A candid shot taken by my younger sister shortly after hubby came back from snorkelling the reefs further out. This was baby's first time at the beach:

Though Manukan is fairly well-equipped with facilities, I read from other travellers online that food options on the island are quite limited, and this was confirmed by our taxi driver who drove us to the ferry terminal. We asked him to bring us to his recommended eating places to buy some takeaway food for our lunch on the island, and we enjoyed the food shortly after arriving at Manukan while the food was still warm.

Fried 'Tuaran mee' (noodles from a town called Tuaran in Sabah), with pork:

Hubby requested horfun - stir-fried flat rice noodles with egg sauce that was packed separately in a plastic bag:

We bought two types of dumplings, one with seafood, and another with preserved egg and prawns. Both were good, but we liked the preserved egg one better ('we' being my sister and I who love preserved egg):

Tofu stuffed with pork ball. This one was suggested by our taxi driver. Nice homemade tofu with the heartiness of pork:

Chicken bun:

And a sweet pandan bun:

It was a beautiful day trip out to Pulau Manukan. It was a shame to see the effects of the tourism industry on the coral reefs, some of the ones closer to the shore were bleached, but my sister said the ones further out looked healthier. I heard there are some amazing dive sites around this area, and I would love to check them out in future!


  1. Hi Expat! Thanks for dropping by my website and remembering my frosting! Hope you are going well.. and what a day. It looks like good fun with familier foods. LOL I posted a reply to your question on my website but here it is as well Hope it works.. my email is
    Hi Expat Gourmand!

    The coconut milk frosting is quite light. It’s sets more in the fridge. But chocolate is the gam changer!

    You can melt chocolate and add to the frosting. It thickens it alot more. You might even be able to pipe it. The plain whipped coconut milk is quite soft and I found it impossible to pipe.

    Try this one

    Or you can add 3 tsp of cacap powder and it should thicken up as well.

    Another option is using a food processor and blitz up 2 avocado, 3-4 bananas and 1/4 cup of cacao powder and honey for another chocolate mousse like healthy frosting.

    Hope this helps!! Let me know! xx

  2. Going there with our 5-month old baby, I assume a carrier there is useful and no roads/need for a pram..? This one sleeps well in prams, so I'm thinking about how to get the baby napping during the day :)

    1. Hi Teea, thanks for your question. We didn't explore further than the first beach we came across in Pulau Manukan, so I cannot advise if there are roads elsewhere, but the beach - yes, not wheel-friendly. I think carriers are super-useful when travelling with young babies. Last August, we went to Hanoi with pram and brought along the carrier and baby wrap for our (bigger than average) 2-year-old, and we were glad we did that because the streets were not wheel-friendly. 5-month-old babies are still light! (My #3 is 4 months, and I still carry her everywhere in the wrap.)