The Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping Guide is part of The Year of the Monkey Trip Report which covers the following places:
- New York, New York
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
- Guangzhou, China
- Hong Kong
- Shenzhen, China
- Sanya, China
With only two days in KK, I contemplated what I should do. There was no time to become a certified scuba diver, so that was out. I lacked the mental focus to play a round of golf, so I scratched that idea. As a result, I decided to take the lazy way out. I would spend one day touring the beautiful islands of KK and the next going down the river to see the flora and fauna.
From the Hyatt, it is only a ten minute walk to the ferry port. I arrived and found that no tour companies wanted to accommodate a solo passenger. After pleading, one of the agencies agreed to take me to Sapi Island, an iconic island famous for white sand beaches and clear water.
The ride to the island was only fifteen minutes, far shorter than the trip to Rosario Islands in Cartagena, Colombia. As we approached land, I hoped that this was not the island. While I could see the white sand, the tropical fish, and crystal clear water, I also saw a tiny island overrun by people with an elongated sticks in their hands.
As we disembarked, a tourist bumped into me and then another. It seemed like every idiot on the island was trying to get a picture of himself with the wallpaper background using the worst invention known to mankind, the selfie stick.
“Serenity now!” I screamed to myself and walked off the dock straight for the bar. Two Tiger beers later, I was sitting on the tiny beach trying to pretend that the island was uninhabited. I went into the warm water only to encounter more selfie stick sharks annoying the fish in the water.
Despite the beauty of the island, I made the hasty decision to leave. I was supposed to go to another island but the uncoordinated tour guides could not find a boat to take me. One after another, each boat was full to capacity and I was left on the dock. An hour later, I decided to call it and took the next life boat back to KK. On my return, I spoke to other tourists who said that the other islands were just as bad.
Apart from going back during the off-season or chartering my own boat, I don’t think I could have done anything differently to avoid the crowds that have overrun what otherwise would have been paradise.
My recommendation to those traveling to KK is to pack mosquito repellent for the annoying pests that suck the fun out of those looking to relax.