Mantanani Island in Malaysia : better than Perhentian Islands?
Pulau Mantanani is one of our favorite islands in Malaysia.
I went here for the first time in 2013 and had great memories.
At the time, the island had no hotels, but things have changed since then.
In 2022, I decided to go back, out of curiosity.
Is Mantanani Island still worth it?
How does it compare to other islands in Malaysia?
Where is Mantanani Island in Malaysia?
The island is located on Sabah, as you know, it is our favorite place in Malaysia.
The Youtube video in this article was shot in May 2022.
How to get to Mantanani?
There are several ways to reach this island.
You can take the bus from Kota Kinabalu, to reach the departure pier.
It takes a little less than 2 hours from the center of Kota Kinabalu.
Alternatively, you can also take a cab, but this would be more expensive.
When to go to Mantanani?
This is a difficult question to answer: in recent years, the weather has been totally unpredictable.
In theory, it is better to prefer the period from April to October.
Again, this would not mean that you will have sunshine for sure.
In 2013, we went there in April, and we had nothing but sunshine.
In 2022, we went in April and May: April had several days of rain (at the end of the day).
If you decide to go between November and March, the risk of rain is higher.
We do not recommend this period.
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Our opinion on Mantanani : is it the most beautiful beach in Malaysia?
First impression on arriving on Mantanani, there are indeed a lot of changes, good and bad.
This island is always worth a visit, but you have to be well prepared, to choose the right periods, the right places and choose the right hotels.
Especially if you are traveling with your family, this trip would require more preparation.
Which hotel to choose in Mantanani?
You now have the choice of several hotels: you can spend several nights without any worries on this island.
Which one to choose ? It all depends on your budget and what you are looking for.
You should also check availability : in high season, it is better to book in advance.
Keep in mind that this is a very small island, so for those looking for a party, or lots of activities, forget about this island.
You will find some activities, including a small inflatable playground for children, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving and even quad ATV.
Where to eat in Mantanani?
As far as the restaurant is concerned, it’s classic, there’s what you need, nothing more and nothing less.
During our last stay, we had buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This is more than enough. You can always bring some extra snacks with you.
Trashes on the islands in Malaysia (and Indonesia)
Let’s move on to a more controversial topic: what I didn’t like.
It is clearly the waste, which can be very present in some places of the island.
At the time of my visit, it had rained a lot the previous days.
The island was just beginning to resume its tourist activities, after the covid.
Honestly, I don’t think this waste problem is solely related to that.
I had spent 2 hours cleaning the beach, but the waste kept coming back.
Trashes around the island : a growing problem
This problem of waste is found more and more, unfortunately, on many islands, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia.
We had the same thing in 2021, on the Perhentian, when the island had just reopened: there was a lot of waste on Perhentian Kecil.
The context was much the same: these islands had just reopened. No or very few tourists were present.
During our tour of the Semporna Islands, this problem was also present on many islands.
Between 2013 and 2022 : is this island changed ?
If I have to compare with 2013, back then there wasn’t all this garbage, and very few tourists.
On the Semporna Islands, on the eastern side, the observation is the same: compared to 2017, when we last visited this area, there was much less waste.
All these islands are still beautiful, despite this defect.
You have to choose the right corners, at the right time.
If it rains, you will have almost nothing to do on Mantanani Island.
Compared to the Perhentian Islands : what about them ?
This is a question we get very often.
For us, both islands are a must.
However, they are different.
It will really depend on what you are looking for, your time, your budget, your situation, etc.
We have clients who preferred Perhentian, while others largely preferred Mantanani.
Why choose the Perhentian Islands ?
Perhentian is great if you only want to enjoy 4-5 days of beaches, and do nothing more.
You make a round trip Kuala Lumpur – Perhentian, nothing more.
You will find many more accommodations in Perhentian, but also many more tourists.
In high season, prices rise quickly and hotels should be booked in advance, especially if you are with your family.
It is the same for the islands of Redang or Tioman.
Why choose Mantanani ?
Mantanani is great if you like to venture out.
The island is now widely known by the locals, especially those from Sabah. But it is still very little visited by Europeans.
Why do we love Mantanani ? Because when you go to Mantanani, from Kuala Lumpur, you don’t just go to Mantanani.
During your trip, you can add several stages, including several days on Kota Kinabalu.
The best would be to make a circuit on Sabah, from West to East.
But again, you have to like to venture out, roam, and explore.
Between Perhentian and Mantanani, there are two different states of mind.
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