Feature Article (April 2019)
Written by @Lan and edited by @Joehairie
A complete guide for 2 days 1 night stay
Your ideal Island getaway, offering an unforgettable holiday experience!
Discover a new paradise and re-discover your inner soul by experiencing the best that Sutera At Mantanani has to offer. Located on the Island of Mantanani Besar, the resort and its surroundings are said to be hidden gems; an oasis rich of marine life and phenomenal natural wonders. Though relatively new in the industry, the resort has become one of the must-visit places in Sabah, Malaysia.
The resort has two beaches; one facing the mainland and the other one is open to the South China Sea with jetties at each side. Both beaches are easily accessible from the chalets. Guests will be amazed with the resort’s pristine white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
Getting to Sutera At Mantanani
Guests will be picked up at 7.00 AM at Sutera Harbour Resort or selected pick up points in Kota Kinabalu City Center. They will be transported to Kampung Rampayan Laut Kota Belud’s jetty. The journey will take approximately 90 minutes (with a brief stop for bathroom break or quick breakfast).
The journey by road ends at Kampung Rampayan Laut Jetty. There are several jetties available and one is allocated specifically for Sutera At Mantanani. Guests will be registered here before being allowed to go on board ‘Rainbow Adventure’. Parking space is available for those opting to drive on their own to Kampung Rampayan Laut’s jetty.
The jetty has ample seating in the waiting area for guests as well as toilets. The transfer to Mantanani Besar (Sutera At Mantanani’s jetty) will take about 30 minutes. Depending on weather and operational technicalities, guests will normally arrive at the resort at 11.00 AM.
While waiting for the transfer to Mantanani Besar Island, guests may take the opportunity to take some photos of the jetty’s beautiful surrounding areas. In case you are wondering, the other side of the river is known as Kampung Rampayan Ulu.
The boat transfer offers comfortable seating and features utmost safety level and procedures. Each guest will be required to wear the life jacket at all time. The crew are well trained to handle emergency situations and the boat is fully equipped with flotation devices.
The seats at the back enabled guests to have direct view of the sea as well as its surroundings. On the way to Mantanani Besar and during good weather, it is possible to have a peek at Mount Kinabalu.
Mantanani Islands are located about 40km Northwest from Kota Belud Town. The islands are primarily volcanic rock in origin and consist of 3 islands: Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kecil and Lingisan. Sutera Mantanani is on the peninsula of Mantanani Besar, which is approximately 3km long and 1.5km at its widest point. In this particular island, there are about 1200 people who are from the Bajau Ubian ethnic group and are predominantly Muslim.
Known as Mermaid Island for the presence of Sea Cow or Dugong (which is currently a rare sighting), Mantanani was originally known as “Pulau Janda” (Widow Island – most probably refers to Mantanani Besar). Based on oral history, once, a warrior and a village head named “Nani” defended his village by attacking Japanese Soldiers in Jesselton, he went hiding from being hunted under a cloth/robe or “Manta” in the Bajau Ubian language, during the attacks hence the name of Mantanani (Nani’s cloth).
At the Resort’s Jetty
Guests will disembark at the resort’s jetty facing the mainland. Those with heavy luggage will be assisted by the crew. Upon disembarking, guests will be greeted with spectacular views of the turquoise sea, blue sky and Mount Kinabalu as well as gentle, soothing, refreshing sea breeze!
On the way to the main building where the reception is located, guests will pass by several comfy wooden lazy chairs scattered in the jetty’s structure itself. Guests may come back here at any time to relax and enjoy the view and breeze.
The urge to jump straight into the sea intensifies even before guests leave the jetty area. No one is to be blamed of course, as the turquoise waters and flash of azure sky attract attention of just about everyone.
The beautiful wooden path leading to the main building is surrounded by white sand that will entice kids to quickly thinking of abandoning their parents in order to build sand castles. Or perhaps, the other way round; as the adults might be thinking of sunbathing, wishing they leave the kids behind at home.
The resort’s main building houses the lobby and reception desk. The lobby features a high raftered ceiling furnished with beautiful chandelier hence giving that intended luxurious yet charming feels. The building itself was built by using top quality timber brought in exclusively from the Island of Bali, Indonesia.
Plenty of comfy couches are available at the lobby for guests to lounge while waiting for activities to start. Rooms will be available at 2.00PM and since guests arrive at 11.00AM, it’s another 3 hours of waiting. Fret not as one may opt to join the snorkeling activity that starts at 11.30AM. Alternatively, chill out at the Bar or simply wander around the two beaches.
It is worth noting that the resort was previously known as Viva Mantanani and in December 2018, Singapore-listed GSH Corporation has acquired the resort; re-branding it to Sutera At Mantanani. There are some major changes going on as to ensure the standards of service are consistent with the Sutera Harbour brand. Attention is currently given even to the smallest details making things to be much better in due course.
Strongly recommended on 1st day
Snorkeling activity starts at 11.30AM daily and guests may opt to do it on the first or second day. Alternatively, do it on both days. There will be two snorkeling stations and the activity ends at 1.00PM where guest will be invited for lunch at the resort’s restaurant.
Reward yourself by diving in the crystal clear waters and be amazed with the abundance of beautiful aquatic life roaming in the waters of Mantanani Islands. See for yourself the many species of fish and other sea life as you snorkel in the water!
Guests will be entitled for Full Board Meals which means the price of the package includes breakfast, lunch, tea break (light refreshment) and dinner. In between, guests may buy some snacks and beverages at the resort’s bar. Buffets are served during breakfast and lunch while steamboat is served for dinner. Currently there is no ala carte menu available but according to the management, steps are taken to ensure that in the future, guests will have more dining options. Free flow of coffee and tea is available at all meals.
Buffet station and dining area
At the time of writing, meal times are as follow:
Breakfast (8.00AM to 10.00AM)
Lunch (1.00PM to 2.00PM)
Tea Break (3.30PM to 4.30PM)
Dinner (7.00PM to 8.30PM)
Apart from the deluxe-type accommodation (perfect for big group or family), Beach Chalets are also offered. Though built with minimalist style, each chalet has everything that discerning vacationers needed. It comes with private balcony with proper amenities. Most important, each chalet is just steps away from the beach!
Large sliding door enabling sea breeze to come in
Outdoor seating area
Comfortable Twin Beds (Queen and Triple beds are available)
Flat Screen TV
Comfy Sofa with desk
Coffee and Tea maker with bottled water
Large closet (ample storage)
Slippers and Safety Deposit Box
Shower and toilet with bidet
Deep sink and large mirror
Tea break is at 3.30PM and the next activity will be the Sunset Walk that starts at 5.00PM. While waiting for both, one may opt to chill out at either of these nearby places.
Chill out at the bar with friends and have some casual conversation while enjoying the soothing sea breeze. There are some drinks and snacks that you can purchase. Interestingly, there is an upper deck where you get to enjoy better view of the sea and its surrounding.
Outdoor Resting Area
There are plenty resting area at the resort be it at the jetty itself or at the gazebos. Take a nap while waiting for that Sunset Walk; a guided tour to enjoy the magnificent sunset view as well as brief introduction of the nearby Bajau Ubian’s village.
At 5.00PM, assemble at the resort’s lobby and simply join the other guests and staff in the Sunset Walk. Mind you that the tour will go through a village of the friendly Bajau Ubian people and while you are all welcome to have a conversation with them, do refrain from taking photos of their houses.
Apart from the village, the tour will take guests strolling along the beach.
There will be a brief stop where you get to enjoy refreshing coconut which you may buy from the locals.
Gather with other guests and sit on the jetty’s walkway while waiting for the sunset. Alternatively, have some drinks at the nearby cafe run by locals.
Take some cool photos of yourself at your preferred points but again kindly refrain from taking photos of the village. Staff will brief you about the do’s and don’ts.
Enjoy the bright orange, red and yellow pastels of the sensational evening light streaks across the horizon.
Blue Plankton Watch
(Seasonal: March to end July)
It’s considered a rare sighting and seasonal as well, so if you are lucky enough you will get to witness an amazing natural phenomena, known as Bioluminescence or Blue Plankton. It is is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates.
Credits: @mylaansibin (Link)
For avid star-gazer, during late at night or wee hours of the morning, be at the resort’s beach (a bit farther from the lights) and view the magnificent stars. No telescope is needed, just view it with the naked eye. Taking photos require some appropriate equipment.
Wake up as early as 5.30AM and wait for the sunrise. Enjoy the cool morning sea breeze. Stroll along the beach and do some exercise of your preferred routines and wait for the right time to take amazing photos of the sunrise.
Head to the jetty and take some cool photos of yours with the sea and Mount Kinabalu as the background!
While waiting for breakfast, have a walk on the beach and admire the views around the resort.
Other Recreational Activities
Recommended in the morning of 2nd day
During free time, there are some recreational activities that you can organized on your own with friends. Equipment for certain games are readily available at the Sports Center (behind the lobby’s building). There is no fee for using the equipment as it’s included in your package. According to the resort’s official website (link), it is possible to arrange for a fishing trip. Due to limited time of ours at this island, we did not opt for this activity.
Beach Volleyball. Get the ball from the Sports Center. Net is readily available for use at the beach.
Get the Kayak and related equipment from the Sports Center and kindly return it after use.
Have some fun bouncing on the Trampoline be it for recreational or compete with your friends!
Join in the resort’s Beach Soccer facility for a fun activity on the beach. Have some fun with friends or organize an impromptu match!
What about simply expose your body to ray of the sun to get a suntan, having your skin darker as you preferred (don’t forget to apply the sunscreen on your skin!).
Who needs a swimming pool if the sea is there for your swimming routine?
Head to the beach and do some Yoga routine.
Depending on your schedule, availability and especially if you went for snorkeling on the first day, you may opt to do a second round of snorkeling on the second day; while waiting for lunch time at 1.00PM and your departure time from the island which will be at 3.00PM.
The experience at Sutera Mantanani was indeed memorable. The beach was amazing as well as the sunset and sunrise views. The Chalet was great as it had all that we needed. There was no shortcoming when it comes to food as we were well fed; all meals were included in the package!
It would be pretty hard for us to forget the experience at this resort as we enjoyed every second of it especially the stargazing activity. We went home feeling a little bit sad as we had to leave a place that we already regard as our second home. Fingers crossed, we will be here again in the future, a resort with amazing natural wonders that we strongly recommend to all of you.
Location of Sutera At Mantanani (Mantanani Besar Island). The other islands are Mantanani Kecil and Lingisan. Credits: www.suteraatmantanani.com