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Sun, Sea & Sand At Sutera @ Mantanani Island Resort and Spa

Sabah may not be the largest state in Malaysia but it has the largest number of islands within the nation. Do you know that there are total of 394 official islands in Sabah's territory? I bet now you know cause I myself initially thought there are around 200 islands, until I found this info from the Google. Shame to say that as I can only name few of them but it's not too late for me to explore more of the islands now since we are still not allowed to travel overseas. 

The following week after our staycation at the award-winning 5-star resort of The Magellan Sutera Resort, we went for another tropical island getaway and stayed at Sutera @ Mantanani Island Resort and Spa, which operated and managed by the same corporation of Sutera Harbour Resort. 


HOW TO GET TO MANTANANI ISLAND
Mantanani Island is one of the Chinese (China) tourists favourite island and they called this as Mermaid Island (美人鱼岛). It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud and another 30 to 45 minutes boat ride from the Rampayan Jetty to this paradise island, depending on the sea conditions. Only 1 boat transfer per day which is at 10am and therefore, it's better to start your journey from Kota Kinabalu as early as 7.30am, or else you will miss the boat ride. 

Sutera At Mantanani Rampayan Jetty-1
#1: It takes nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu to Rampayan Jetty in Kota Belud.

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#2: Only 1 boat transfer per day which is at 10am. So don't be late, or else you will miss the boat ride.

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#3: The boat rides is about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the sea conditions. All passengers are required to wear life jacket cause sometimes, the sea can be very rough. Safety first!

SUTERA @ MANTANANI ISLAND RESORT & SPA
I have to admit that this is my first time to this idyllic island with crystal clear turquoise waters. So when we're approaching the island, I can't contain my excitement as I'm finally here. No wonder this island captured most heart of the foreign visitors especially. 

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#4: Mantanani Island also known as the Mermaid Island (美人鱼岛)

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#5: Owned and managed by Sutera Harbour Resort for less than 2 years

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#6: Lobby and reception area

Upon arrival, we're greeted and served with welcome drink at the lobby area. But because the earliest check-in time is around 1.30pm, we left our luggage here and if you have any valuable items with you, don't worry cause they have locker next to the reception counter. We're asked to change to our swimwear for the next session which is snorkelling. If you are not interested with snorkelling, you can roam around the resort and stroll along the white sandy beaches until the check-in time. 

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#7: Snorkeling gears and life jackets are provided for the guests for free

Unfortunately, the snorkeling spot we brought to was slightly disappointed cause the coral reefs are unattractive and dull than we expected them to be. Furthermore, there aren't many colourful marine life we came across. After swam for roughly around 30 minutes, we got up to the boat and can't wait head back to the island awaiting for the lunch to be served.   

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#8: The only restaurant of the resort. You can opt to dine inside the restaurant, or

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#9: Outside while enjoying panorama view of the blue sea

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#10: The package we took inclusive full board meals which comes with 2 set of lunch, 1 tea break, 1 steamboat dinner and breakfast. One word to comment their food - YUMMYLICIOUS!

ISLAND STYLE LIVING
There are two distinctive type of accommodations - Beach Chalet and Deluxe room. Since the price differences between these two are only RM70, hence we chosen the Beach Chalet as our private balcony is facing directly the incredible view of the white beach and blue ocean water. 

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#11: Beach Chalet - There are 20 rooms for this type of accommodation whereas 8 rooms for deluxe type.

All rooms are equipped with:
  • Flat screen TV
  • Air-conditioned and fan
  • Closet
  • Safety Deposit Box
  • Coffee and tea making facility
  • Mini fridge (except for deluxe room)
  • Towels and bathroom basic amenities 

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#12: We requested for king sized-bed but they gave us twin bed.

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#13: Complimentary drinking water provided inside the room

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#14: Ensuite bathroom with basic toilet amenities

ACTIVITIES TO DO
Apart from snorkeling and swimming, there are all sorts of recreational activities such as ATV ride, kayaking and scuba diving. You can rent ATV ride with a surcharge of RM50 for half an hour. The resort even organised other activities such as sunset walk and village tour as well as blue tears watching at night. Unfortunately, all these had been canceled during our trip due to the adverse weather. But it's alright cause we had amazing time spending our days basking in the warmth seaside sun and rejuvenate our mind and spirits in the crisp sea breeze.  

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#15: All sorts of recreational activities for all ages, being adult or child.

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#16: Get ready to slide down - this is so fun!

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#17: Prewedding photoshooting

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#18: Smell the sea and feel the sky

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#19: Marvelous sight on the next morning - the magnificent Mount Kinabalu

If you are pretty lucky, probably you will spot the magical blue tears at night which I mentioned earlier. Wondering what are those blue tears? These phenomenon arise due to the presence of the bioluminescent plankton which create blue light as part of the defense mechanism to escape from the predators. We ain't that lucky for this trip but I got to witness with my naked eyes for my second visit to Mantanani Island. Yes, I went for second round (will blog about this soon).

Photo credit to Steemit 

Whether for a relax and rejuvenate getaway, a thrill-seeking adventure or even a fun bonding session with a group of family and friends, Sutera @ Mantanani Island Resort and Spa certainly offers the best tropical seaside vacation that you and your partner are craving for. 


You can book this Mantanani island package here.
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Staycation In The Magellan Sutera Resort

I couldn't remember when was the last time I had staycation in my beloved hometown. I think the one I had probably few years back and because of that, I deserve to have another weekend staycation to rejuvenate and unwind (though I seems like having weekend getaway every week).

Since ever the government relaxes the Movement Control Order (MCO) by allowing the tourism industry back into the business, there are handful of hotels and resorts within Kota Kinabalu area that are currently having promotion offers to the local Sabahan and also Malaysian too. One of them eventually caught my attention which is the The Magellan Sutera Resort.


Sutera Harbour Resort is well-known among the local for being the largest resort in Kota Kinabalu city center comprising two distinctive 5-stars hotels; namely The Pacific and The Magellan. We picked the latter cause that's the only one which are currently open for business and right now, they are offering as low as RM290 per room for a night and it's including breakfast too. What a great deal! We booked two rooms to stay in the early weekend of July and due to that, they upgraded us from Deluxe Garden View to Deluxe Sea View (this only applies if you book two rooms or more).

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DELUXE SEA VIEW OF MAGELLAN SUTERA RESORT
The check-in process was slightly disappointed because there were quite number of hotel guests checking-in at the same time causing the process to be slow and we were in the queue for almost half an hour. But all this can be forgiven right after we got our room key and stepped into the room, we're completely blown away by the room and totally forgot how awful experience we had earlier.

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#1: The resort has been operating for over 20 years but don't worry about the room cause they just renovated it. 

Tastefully decorated with calm soft-colour, the room that we booked comes with a huge and comfortable King-sized bed, a flat screen satellite TV, coffee and tea making facilities. They even provide iron and board for those who need it - very thoughtful. As for the ensuite bathroom, it equipped with bathtub and shower with premium amenities. The best part of the room is the private balcony overlooking the South China Sea. You can even witness the amazing golden sunset from the balcony. 

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#2: Our room equipped with a King-sized bed and a flat screen satellite TV.

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#3: Ensuite bathroom with bathtub, shower and premium amenities.

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#4: Love the design of their closet. Wish to customise like this for mine.

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#5: Private balcony overlooking the South China Sea

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#6: Romantic sunset view right from the balcony

THINGS TO DO IN THE RESORT AND MOSTLY ARE FREE FOR HOTEL GUESTS
There are plenty of reasons why we chosen to stay in this world-class luxury resort. Besides the complimentary breakfast which includes in the room rate, we are now allowed to utilise their swimming pool which just opened to public in the early of July. Not just that, there are wide array of activities for the hotel guests to do and mostly are free of charge. Yes, you heard it right - no extra surcharge for activities such as driving range of 25 balls, 1 bowling section, badminton, table tennis, tennis and snooker. The one that we enjoyed the most is the complimentary island boat ride where we purposely booked the slot at 6pm in order to enjoy sunset view. It's really spectacular and not to be missed.

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#7: Complimentary breakfast. Still served in buffet style but only the chefs are allowed to scoop the food and place on your plate. 

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#8: The swimming pool is open to public since early of July. Anyone love to swim?

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#9: Free use of the driving range including 25 balls

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#10: Free 1 session of bowling activity for each hotel guest

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#11: The best activity we had - complimentary island boat ride

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#12: It's wise to book the boat ride earlier and try to take 6pm slot

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#13: And you will be rewarded with this - the amazing and marvellous sunset view

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#14: The Magellan Sutera Resort view from the boat ride

OUR DINNER
Since the room rate doesn't include dinner, we then had steamboat at one of the resort restaurants, Al Fresco. They are having promotion too - steamboat for RM99 for two persons which I personally think not bad as it served prawns, mussels, beef, fresh chicken and fish slices but excluding the red wine (my friend ordered that, not me cause I don't drink). 

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#15: Steamboat for dinner - RM99 nett for 2 persons

If you are looking for staycation in Kota Kinabalu, I would highly recommend to book and stay in The Magellan Sutera Resort because apart from the awesome and comfy room, you can spend your day basking in all the facilities provided by the resort. And did I tell you that you can check-out as late as 2pm? You don't have to go far just to search for the perfect short getaway cause everything is just under the roof.

Staycation At The Magellan Sutera Resort 09

HOW TO GET TO SUTERA HARBOUR RESORT: 
Sutera Harbour Resort is less than 10 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport. You can take Grab for roughly around RM10. In case you are driving with car, don't worry cause parking within the resort area is free of charge. 



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Cuti-Cuti Sabah BAH: Road Trip To Kudat

On the second weekend of June, we head for a road trip from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat, also known as "Tip of Borneo" due to its location poised on the northernmost tip of Borneo Island. Kudat is another popular short weekend getaway for the local, apart from the island hopping and road trip to Kundasang for the majestic Mount Kinabalu. It's not my first time to this slow-paced town but because I didn't get to explore much previously, hence I took this opportunity to stay for a night in order to discover more of this town.  



TRIP TO KUDAT
There is a small airport in Kudat and the only airline serving this airport is MAS Wings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines. There are three flights in a week from Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan with flying times for Kota Kinabalu are 40 minutes whereas for Sandakan are 50 minutes. 

The ideal option would most probably by self-driving from Kota Kinabalu which takes nearly 3 hours, or more depending the conditions of the road. I personally prefer this cause while on the way to Kudat, we came across the marvellous view of Mount Kinabalu on the right side of the vehicle. You even will passby few towns like Tamparuli, Tuaran, Kota Belud and can stopby at any village markets for food, fruits, flowers, plants and more. Planning to rent car in Kota Kinabalu? I would recommend Haruka Holiday for the best car rental services. Lazy to drive? Then you can sign up for day trip with them too. 

THINGS TO DO & SEE IN KUDAT
Another reason why I would suggest to self-drive is because majority of the attractions in Kudat are quite spread out from each other. I'm not sure how convenient is the Grab in Kudat but what I know that the phone coverage, especially Internet connection is pretty bad there. I believe you don't want end up to risk it by climbing the tree in order to get Internet Connection so that you can book the Grab, right? So, better grab a car and do self-driving.

2020 Kudat Roundabout

1) Sumangkap Gong Factory Village
This village is well-known for producing and making gongs, an important instrument for the Rungus tribe. Here, you can watch the gong makers at work, try your hand at making or playing one yourself, and even, you can customise gong using your name and symbol as a memento. The Sultan of Brunei bought his gongs from here, so do make sure to dropby here when you are in Kudat. 

2020 Kudat Sumangkap Gong Factory 1

2020 Kudat Sumangkap Gong Factory 2

Entrance Fee: RM5 for adult and RM3 for children


2) Kampung Bavanggazo (Rungus Longhouse)
Traditionally, the Rungus ethnic tribe reside in longhouses built on stilts, but the shift to modern living has meant that the sight of such longhouses is getting more rare. The longhouse at Kg. Bavanggazo has been constructed entirely of traditional materials but with added modern comforts like toilets and showers. Here, you can get a taste of real Rungus traditional lifestyles through their food, daily rituals and music on a day trip. Last but not least, don't leave this place without supporting their handmade jewelry which crafted using antique beads.  

2020 Kudat Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse 1

2020 Kudat Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse 2

Entrance Fee: RM3 for Malaysian and RM5 for non-Malaysian


3) Honey Bee Farm
Apparently the famous one is Gombizau Honey Bee Farm but unfortunately it was closed when we're there. So we found another one which is the Borneo Honeybee Centre. This is where you get to see the traditional bee farming techniques and get a taste of pure rainforest honey. You can even take some home for a reasonable price. Rubber tapping is also done on site, as is the harvesting of traditional medicinal herbs, which can also be bought as a medicine.

2020 Kudat Borneo Honeybee Centre

Entrance Fee: RM5 for adult and RM3 for children


4) Kacang Kudat (Kudat Ground Nut)
Prepared in the unique traditional method, Kudat ground nut is one of the most popular local food that you must grab few packets before leaving the town. The ground nuts are being dried up under the sun prior to being fry-grilled and this make the nuts to be more crunchy and tastier. Trust me, it's so good that you almost finish the whole pack while watching the TV and regret for not getting more. 

2020 Kudat Kacang


5) Tip of Borneo (Tanjung Simpang Mengayau)
Being the northernmost point of the third largest island in the world, Tip of Borneo is the meeting point of the Sulu and South China seas. Your trip to Kudat is incomplete if you didn't dropby this place cause this is the most visited attractions here. This is one of the favourite place for sunset viewing and even the Sunset Music Fest which is Sabah's biggest open air concert that held annually organised at here. 

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2020 Kudat Tip Of Borneo 2


6) Beaches in Kudat
Kudat has few isolated beaches that you will make you jaw-dropping for its stunning crystal clear water and glittery white sand. One of them is Kelambu Beach, located at north-west of Kudat town and at the south of the Tip of Borneo is the local's most favourite beach to relax, picnic and enjoy the beauty of nature's best. Due to its location so close to Tip of Borneo, this is also one of the best spot to capture the perfect moment when the sun decide to give way for the night. There are even some resorts and hotels have their own private tranquil and quiet beaches - just like our stay in Hibiscus Beach Retreat (post here). 

2020 Kudat Kelambu Beach

Hibiscus Beach Retreat Kudat 11

ACCOMMODATIONS IN KUDAT
Don't rush your trip to Kudat and try to spend at least a night there. You don't have to worry about the accommodations cause there are plenty of options for you to choose from, such as: 

BorneoTip Beach Lodge & Tommy's Place which are very close to Tip of Borneo
2020 Kudat BorneoTip Beach Lodge

2020 Kudat Tommy's Place

If you are adventurous type, you can camp at Secret Place Cafe & Catering.
2020 Kudat Secret Place Cafe & Camping

Have extra budget and don't mind to splurge for your stay? Hibiscus Beach Retreat is the one you're looking for. I stayed here before and I really fall in love with it. Wish to return for the second time. 
Hibiscus Beach Retreat Kudat 04

If you are travelling with big group of families or friends, you can opt for Hibiscus Villa Borneo and Kudat Riviera. Prefer the city area, then you can consider Kudat Golf and Marina Resort which sits along the seafront of downtown Kudat and Mozart Hotel which located in the center of Kudat town.

Food wise, we didn't manage to try any fresh and cheap seafood which they are famous for in Kudat cause our main focus is along the stretch to Tip of Borneo. We had our lunch at Tampat do Aman and Secret Place Cafe where both of them serve Western and local meals. I would highly recommend to try their pizza cause they are baked in wood-fired oven. That's so cool!

2020 Kudat Tampat Do Aman &Secret Place Cafe

2020 Kudat Wood Fire Pizza Oven

Do you know that Kudat is well-known as one of the top spots in Sabah for stargazing. Here's another reason that you should overnight in Kudat instead of doing a day trip there. However, it also depends on the weather conditions and little bit of luck. Too bad during our stay, it was raining and no sign of the milky way. Guess it's a sign that I need to return Kudat once again.

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[Photo Credit to The Star] 
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