Sapi Island is one of the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. To get there, it takes 15 minute boat ride from the jetty at Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu. There is a minimal entrance fee of RM3 for Malaysians and RM10 for non-Malaysians at the counter.
In Malay, “Sapi” means cow, so it literally means “Cow Island”, though you will never see any cows lying around at the island.
Located only 7 km from the city, this island had become a famous tourists’ attraction. Visitors preferred to visit this island compared to the larger islands nearby as they like the less crowded beach. Upon arrival at the island, you will be amazed by the clear blue water, with corals and fishes can be seen clearly from above the water.
As for activities here, you can try the Scuba-Doo mini submarine, snorkelling, scuba diving, parasailing, swimming, camping and light trekking. You can even try the Coral Flyer, the 235-Meter-long (771 feet) zipline between Sapi and Gaya Island, though the starting point is at the latter.
For snorkelling, you can rent the snorkelling gear at the rental shop, or if you had booked with local tour agency, snorkelling gear will be provided. The best spot for corals, according to the locals, is located at southern side of the island. With its clear water, you can see fishes swimming freely amid the corals. You can even buy some fish food and feed the fish while snorkelling to see them swarming around you.
For scuba diving, you can visit the dive shops. They offer packages for diving lessons and actual dives where the lessons are conducted in a confined area near the main beach. There are four dive spots at Pulau Sapi which is located on the North-Western part of the island.
Besides water activities, you can even opt for light trekking. There is a trail next to a fenced area behind tourist beach and a shelter named “Pondok Tenggiri”. After walking to higher ground, you are able to see a magnificent view of rocky shore facing the vast blue ocean behind Sapi Island.
Furthermore, when you arrive at the island, you might be able to see several monitor lizards roaming on the ground. These lizards are harmless, but tourists are advised to not be overly friendly to these lizards as they might bite you. There are also monkeys or macaques to look out for as they tend to steal people’s belongings.
If you have a few days to spare, camping facility is also available at the island, though you have to ask for permission and pay the minimal camping charge. Camps are also available for rent at the island.
There is also a café called Sapi Café, opened from 8am to 4pm daily, and a grocery shop, opens from 8am to 4pm, selling items such as snacks, soft drink, sunblock lotion, insect repellent, soap & shampoo, batteries and medicines.
Sapi Island is a must-visit island when you are in Kota Kinabalu. Stop by at the island when you are island hopping, where you can also visit the other island nearby such as Manukan, Sulug, Gaya and Mamutik Island.