The boat terminal is located north of downtown Kota Kinabalu. It is possible to walk to this terminal if you are staying at nearby city hotels like Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu or Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. Otherwise, if you are staying in other resorts south of the city such as The Magellan Sutera, The Pacific Sutera or Shangri-la Tg Aru, it is best to get a taxi which will set you back anywhere between RM10 to RM15 per journey.
To be exact, this ferry terminal is located close to Wisma Sabah, Grand Port View building, or marine police and custom offices.
The newly refurbished passenger ferry terminal has been re-branded as Jesselton Point. Jesselton is pretty much the old name for the city of Kota Kinabalu. I recalled back in 2003 during my visit, the ferry terminal was pretty much set in an old and sombre condition with dilapidated buildings and inadequate facilities. Today, the terminal has been redesigned into colourful commercial outlets with great tourist facilities for those heading to the beautiful islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park nearby, namely Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sulug and Pulau Mamutik. This ferry terminal is also the departure point for patrons staying at either Manukan Island Resort or Gayana Resort.
The buildings are painted in bright orange colour to breathe a new life into the area. In fact, it is not an understatement that the Jesselton Point project was quite an example of urban rehabilitation programme in this fairly tired-looking city of Kota Kinabalu. It exemplifies the usage of the city's main natural attraction, its spectacular ocean view, to draw the crowds from near and far. Nonetheless, with the re-branding concept finally unveiled to the public, boat passengers to the nearby islands (and even to Labuan) will have to fork out more for this so-called "port tax" of RM3 per person per way. But really, if you are spending hundreds for packaged snorkeling, diving or sightseeing tours to the many islands, that amount does not seem like much.
At the main entrance, there is a nice archway that welcomes you to the city. On the walls are various dated photos of the city's aerial view, some were taken in the early 1900s. There are also two English-inspired telephone booths with their ubiquitous bright red colour although I had no idea what was the purpose of those. There is a nice looking Italian restaurant called Benito Bistro equipped with glassy walls overlooking the dock and the ocean but my dive guide said the food prices were way too expensive. Other than that, there is a featured rail coach taken out from the existing North Borneo Railway service that serves as a drinking outlet called JP Train Station. There are a lot of other smaller cafés with more acceptable food prices apart from souvenir shops for visitors leaving the city.
There is a good waiting area inside the main building equipped with comfortable chairs and cooling air-conditioning. Overall, the boat reception counters are informative when it comes to arranging for last-minute tours of the nearby islands.
A great place for a stroll. Some historical perspective blended in modern design. A great one-stop terminal for all your island excursion needs.