going paradise - Mantabuan...unmistakably maldives
Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah
i have limited knowledge and awareness that Tun Sakaran Marine Park actually offering so much things. as mentioned, i only knew almost 3 things - Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai...for the past few years. LOL. when amin put Mantabuan on the map of our trip, hence googling about the island, i was glad to know that i would not miss much, for opting the route. then Ruby, our diver friend, kept quoting the island is such a gem and unmistakably a Maldives' of Sabah, i got more excited.
fun facts about the island from Journey Malaysia website (credit for the text)
Mantabuan Island, located behind the ancient volcano of Bohedulang, can be reached within app. 40min from Semporna. It‘s best dive site, the Black Coral Forest, can be found at the end of a gentle slope at a depth 25m-30m. Here the precious coral can be found huge bushes, ranging from white to neon green to purple in colour. Turtles often can be found resting there, and whenever the current picks up eagle rays can be spotted overhead. The huge coral boulders at shallower depth are excellent places to look for lobsters, frogfish and a large variety of other coral fish. At nearby Mantabuan 2, an underwater mountain that raises from 60m to a depth of 10m below the surface, some of the best soft coral and large table coral can be found, often with nurse sharks or blue spotted stingrays resting underneath. Dive sites further to the north and west of the island on the other hand are great to look for turtles, barracudas and a wide variety of smaller critters
we left Bohey Dulang after everybody done with the diving and snorkeling session. it was low tide, as we passed the water between Bohey Dulang and Bodgaya islands. Both Abu and Long had to be the front co-pilot, to help Ibnu maneuver the boat from corals or rock.
it was beautiful afternoon, indeed. with the clear blue sky etc. and the wind softly blew, it felt so good to sleep, but i decided to stay awake...enjoying and memographing the moment. our conversation went off for a while, as everybody seemed letting their minds into the moment too.
the water depth was so low...and even we passed few sea gypsies who did their fishing on foot.
as we passed Bohey Dulang and Bodgaya, the water depth back to the deeper section of the sea, and Ibnu now could push the boat to ride faster. Ruby pointed out to us Mantabuan island was the small island in the middle of the sea in front of us as we left the shallow water.
and as we got closer...i was totally euphoric...seeing the crystal clear water again and you could even see the sand at the bottom.
and we finally arrived, and i recall it was only our boat and another boat bringing a small group (family i guess) of tourist there.
see the water, the beach and the blue sky...and even i haven't been to Maldives....i am proudly and without hesitant approving Ruby on this matter.
as usual, Ibnu had to register us at the ESS post before we could start wandering around and do our snorkeling/diving.
we, then had a quick lunch under the trees near the beach. Ibnu's wife already packed us everything, even the leftover fried mee and sandwich from the breakfast.
once done with the lunch, everybody went back to the boat and gearing up for their diving and snorkeling session. i decided to wait for a while...resting under the trees and wander around, taking pictures etc.
i strolled along the beach with Pojie and met the army that being posted there, and had a chat with them. yes...i have to give them credit as their duty call at each post / island could last for months...and knowing that Mantabuan is just like a piece of land in the middle of the sea... i couldn't imagine their endurance - emotionally and physically to survive such. ...ok..off course they can...because they are army and trained to do so. hehe
we bit farewell to them and while Pojie got himself back on the boat and gearing up for snorkeling, i went further, strolling to the other end of the beach.
enjoy the pictures.
see...as the water is so clear...my slow shutter thing didn't do much wonder. hehe
Abu shouted my name as i was walking back and closer to the boat, asking whether i wanted to join for the snorkeling. the long walk along the beach felt long, and i thought they were almost done by the time i reached the boat, but as Abu asked and told me that it'd be a while more, i decided to join the snorkeling.
i got back on to the boat, and wore my life jacket and snorkeling gear...and then jumped into the water.
the stonefish that being disturbed by Ibnu. it is a poisonous fish.
well...my limited pictures above don't do justice to the beautiful underwater world of Mantabuan. i gave my underwater sj4000 camera that i borrowed from assan to Ibnu as he wanted to dive to the deeper section of the water and most of the frames taken by Ibnu were actually videos that i unable to load for time being. i'll upload it once i managed to shrink the file size and do editing.
i don't recall for how long we'd been in the water. but looking from how tanned our skin looked like, and how exhausted everybody as getting on to the boat...it had been a while. nevertheless, everybody seemed very satisfied with the session that afternoon.
we packed up our stuff and then rode back to Selakan Island. it was another 40 minutes journey, and most of us went into our rem cycle along the journey...