Mantanani Islands is a small archipelago consisting of 3 islands: Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kechil and Linggisan. The biggest one of them is only 3km long and 1,5km wide (in other words - hard to get lost). They’re situated 38km from the mainland Borneo. It’s a home to a few species of endemic birds with Mantanani Scops-owls being the most famous example. Every night (and for some kind of reason – every day as well) you can hear their rumble. They are very hard to spot however, which makes it quite frustrating at times. You here them so close and still see nothing but leaves. Those who were left disappointed by bird watching should go to the beach at night. If you are at place dark enough you can spot glowing plankton. Blue sparks appear in water when the waves crush at the shore. It looks like ocean of stars. There are maybe not so many of them but it’s still really pretty though.
1. Swimming – most obvious of all. If you’re staying in a lodge located exactly at the sandy beach that’s the first thing that comes to your mind. Warm azure water, sunshine, white sand... what’s more to explain.
2. Snorkeling – you can do this right at the beach or go on a snorkeling trip. Doing this at the beach is very cheap option (gear rental is 20 MYR for a set/day) but there’s not that much to see to be honest. Just a few small colourful fish and sea urchins. If you of for a trip, they’re going to bring you to a small island where you can see corals and fish in great number and colours. It’s worth seeing at least once but for the trip you’ll pay 45 MYR.
5. Trekking – ok. Maybe not exactly trekking (because the island is just too small for that). You can however have a very nice walk across the ‘jungle’ to the other side of the island. There are more birds and lizards to spot there.
7. Hanging in a hammock and reading a book – the least thrilling and yet sometimes most enjoyable ‘activity’. Perfect for people who just want to take it slow.
- Place to stay: there are 3 resorts you can stay in while on the island (all information you can find here). I stayed at Mari Mari Backpackers lodge and really liked it there. They have diving center, snorkeling and kayaking. Dorm is located just at the beach. At the dinning hall you can unending supply of tea/coffee for free. It’s cheaper to book accommodation for a few days than to book a 2 days trip. That is because the greatest part of the price is the transport. While on the island you can get by for relatively low price. Just take it slow and don’t believe travel agents who say that you’ll get bored if you stay longer than 3 days. You won’t. Many people who came for a trip ended up extending their stay.
3. Things to watch out for:
- Sting rays, stone fish and sea urchins can be spotted close to the shore. So were either aqua shoes or fins while swimming/snorkeling.
- Sun burns – snorkeling is a fantastic activity but very treacherous as well. You can turn into something resembling roasted chicken without even realizing it. For that reason wear T-shirt or wet suit while going into the water.
- Snakes – at the Eastern part of the island sea snakes (very poisonous) can be sometimes spotted between the rocks. So watch where you’re stepping.