Pulau Mantanani Island reputations as a dive destination is growing as fast as its tourists arrival. For novice divers, Mantanani offers pristine waters teeming with coral reefs and a cornucopia of fish life. Pulau Mantanani is a group of three isolated islands northwest of Kota Belud, a one hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. Until recently, the islands were only known to few locals.
The largest island houses the only dive resort, Mantanani Resort which is situated at the western end on the edge of a white sandy bay. Nestled amongst the tall coconut palms are beach cabins scattered around the main plantation styled house. For macro photographers, the “muck diving” is amazing, sea horses, imperial shrimps, pink-eye gobies, jaw fish, blue-ringed octopus, ribbon eels and many nudibranch you will not be able to find in the books! There are now 16 dive sites identified by Mantanani Resort with many more still to be explored. The more recently discovered Mantanani Resort rare sightings of Dugongs have been recorded.
A good place to start is Ribbon Reef. On the descent, you will be greeted by the sight of ribbon eels, nudibranchs, lion fish and even marbled stingrays. Pehen Rock offers unusual topography and plenty of bottom-dwellers. Clam Garden too, features just that. Excitingly large giant clams congregate here, amid a school of bat fish and occasionally, green turtles. For the more experience divers, some wreck diving is called for. Three Japanese World War II ships lie halfway between Mantanani and The mainland. Their coral encrusted hulls attract a variety of schooling fish and also large stingrays.
1 hour boat ride from Kota Belud, which is an hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. Day trips to this beautiful, untouched island are possible.