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Best Islands and Beach Resorts to Visit in Sabah

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

About the beautiful islands and beaches in Sabah

Sabah is caressed by the South China Sea on its west and the Sulu and Celebes seas on its eastern coastline.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital offers top-notched properties such as the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and the Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa.

Click here to find out the promotional rates here: Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa

Both resorts offer spectacular views of the South China Sea and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands.

“Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Well worth a visit from KK”

If you’re staying in KK this is well worth a visit – and Sapi is the best island for a day trip.

It is less busy than the other islands – but there are still a good number of boats that go there.

Best to head out earlier in the day – I went at 1130am and had to wait 45 for the boat to depart as they only leave when they are full.

Visited November 2014

sapi island sabah

Sapi Island, Sabah.

“Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park – Nice snorkeling area and good for kids”

So we decide to reach the island from Jesselton jetty, but when we walk going to jetty there’s couple tour operator offer with more reasonable price. We get MYR 300 for 9 pax and 3 island. That would be MYR 46/pax + MYR 7 if you reach by the jetty.

So we going to 3 island and they are Gaya Island, sapi island and manukan island. You just need paid MYR 10/pax for entrance a whole island. Keep it to show every you hopping the island.

At Gaya island we just enjoy the beach, than get flying fox over the island to sapi island. If you want to there’s a track to around the island. Suggest you to eat at the restaurant, that is reasonable price approx MYR 7/portion including free ice water.

sapi island is small one, but is crowded. So we decide to track this island, just need an hour for that.

manukan island sabah

The beautiful Manukan island beach.

Manukan island was managed by Sutra Sanctuary, same company with poring hot spring water And laban rata. This island was beautiful with couple resort, restaurant and pool. Also great track. Great place for snorkling, not to crowded, many fish but doesn’t corals

Visited September 2014

The Sutera Harbour Resort offers a full range of recreational facilities, including a golf course, marina and spa.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park Map

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park Map

Tanjung Aru beach

In the vicinity of the airport, the Tanjung Aru beach is a popular spot to watch the beautiful sunset and relax at the beach-side cafes.

Tanjung Aru is also the gateway to explore several of Sabah’s delightful attractions. Go on a ride in the North Borneo tourist steam train and take in the scenic countryside.

tanjung aru sabah

A group of friends at Tanjung Aru beach, Sabah.

“Tanjung Aru – Spectacular sunset”

This is not ‘fine dining, but the location is a must and the atmosphere in the evening is well worth sampling. We saw a fantastic sunset while there – the whole sky was painted in reds, golds, yellows and purples.

Visited October 2014

“Tanjung Aru – Sports & Recreation”

Great place for family to do recreational activities such us jogging, strolling, brisk walking..Area is clean. There’s a musical fountain to be enjoyed at night ..one can just sit and enjoy it. There are few eateries around the Park …Highly recommended to go in the evening.

Visited September 2014

tanjung aru sabah

Looking out at Tanjung Aru coast from a resort.

“Tanjung Aru – Love the Musical Fountain”

I was amazed by the Musical Fountain and it was such a refreshing site in KK…..apart from the sea. Came after 8pm as the show is time every 30 minutes interval.

Visited September 2014

tanjung aru sabah

Tanjung Aru beach is a favorite among locals.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

A treasured marine heritage, the five islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park are surrounded by extensive coral reefs. Its proximity to Kota Kinabalu makes it a popular playground for water sports enthusiasts, sun seekers, swimmers and snorkelers.

Just a 30-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu is the Nexus Karambunai, a fabulous resort offering six kilometers of soft sandy beach. Indulge in idyllic days of swimming and sauntering by the beach or try out exciting pastimes such as horse-riding and archery.

Check out the best rate for Nexus Karambunai resort here.

For golfers, tee off at the resort’s 18-hole par 72 course designed by Ronal Fream. The Lagoon Park, a recreational center situated 10 minutes away, abound with thrills such as jet-skiing, kayaking, wake-boarding, mangrove cruises and sunset firefly cruises.

Shangri La Rasa Ria sabah

The beach at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort.

The Shangri-La Rasa Ria, located nearby, is a splendid getaway surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation. An idyllic, white sandy beach stretched over three kilometers awaits swimmers, beachcombers and windsurfers.

Check out the best rate for Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort here.

Water spots for the adventurous

Guests can delight in kayaking, jet-skiing, banana boat rides and catamaran excursion, or enjoy a round of golf in the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ted Parslow.

For a glimpse of Borneo’s animal kingdom, visit the resort’s nature reserve which houses Orang Utan and deer.

Sabah Islands Map

Sabah Islands Map

Beaches that you should visit

For some privacy and seclusion, try the Paka Beach in Tuaran where a six-kilometer shoreline, hugged by coastal vegetation glitters invitingly.

The glorious beach offers pristine nature with no intrusion of modernity. Delight in a picnic, take leisurely strolls along the shore or enjoy hours of swimming.

“Simpang Mengayau Bay – Beautiful scenery”

This is a superb beach, white sand and gentle lapping waves on the first day I was there. Then crashing surf and perfect for boogie bords on the next few days. The sunset at the tip was Superb.

Visited September 2014

tip of borneo sabah

The rocky prominatory at the tip of Borneo.

“Simpang Mengayau Bay – Windy, perfect for pictures and stunning sea view and reeze”

Went here to check out what was so good about it and was not dissapointed despite the 2 hour drive.

View here was stunning and place was simply amazing.

The beach was long and white and could be probably one of Sabah’s best hidden secrets.

The bad side is however there is nothing much to do other than enjoy the view, the breeeze and the sea.

Visited September 2014

The beach will also be an excellent retreat for sunbathing as it ensures a quiet environment.

En route, visit the Bajaus, famed as ‘Sea Gypsies’ and enjoy a boat ride through the mangroves. For a trip to this beach, prior arrangements can be made with tour operators.

To the north of Sabah is Kudat Beach, where visitors can enjoy crystal-clear waters and majestic scenery while visiting the Rungus tribe who live in longhouses.

For the exhilarating feeling of standing on land’s end, visit the Simpang Mengayau Bay, at the tip of Borneo. Located north of Kudat, this stretch of beach is excellent for swimming and to watch sunrise and sunset.

Tip of Borneo

Tip of Borneo

“Tip of Borneo – Breathtaking sight”

The sight is awesome on the tip. It is super windy on the day of our visit, the winds so strong that you feels like its a possibility being blown away. It is a good spot for viewing sunset and sunrise (if you are stay overnight in the hotel nearby to it) if you are lucky to have a cloudless sky on the day of visit.

Visitors will still need to travel by foot for about 5-10 minutes from parking space to the tip of borneo. It might be troublesome for those that need wheelchair lane access or have walking problems.

Ps: It needs around 30-45 minutes to travel from Kudat city to tip of borneo and the road to tip of borneo can be very difficult to navigate. Addition to that, there isn’t any roadlamps throughout the path. It is better to travel to and fro from the place when there is daylight as it can be very dangerous to travel during nighttime.

Highly recommended to go with experienced tour guide or bring along GPS to help with directions if you aren’t familiar with roads over there.

Visited October 2014

tip of borneo sabah

A great view overlooking the coastline at the tip of Borneo.

Islands that you should visit

Sabah has a host of captivating islands among which is Pulau Tiga Park, better known as ‘Survival Island’, featured in the TV reality show ‘Survivor’.

The island of Layang Layang, Turtle Island, Mabul, Kapalai and Sipadan are outstanding dive sites in the region.

“Layang-layang Beach – Awesome sunset!”

When you’re in Labuan, don’t forget the Layang Layangan Beach! I managed to squeeze some time on my last day of work visit.

Went to the beach to relax and unwind. It was so quiet and peaceful. Got there on time to watch the beauty of the sun setting. The whole stretch of beach seems to be deserted but it was just too welcoming.

I had some “me” time there, recalling the day’s busyness and wishing I had a few more days to just get my feet on the sand and watch the sea and the sun as it sets…oh ! well .. I’m sure I will get back here again …perhaps sooner than later on a personal visit… 🙂

Visited June 2014

layang layang beach sabah

The Layang-Layanag island is one of the few places excellent for diving and snorkeling.

“Layang-layang Beach – It is a beautiful secluded beach, perfect for relaxing and reading.”

The best thing about the beach is there are no crowds and it really does feel like your own beach. It isn’t beautiful Golden sand but once you sit and take in the scenery as a whole it’s amazing.

Especially with the sunset. There is an outdoor food court nearby which has the best nasi goreng ive found in Malaysia and Indonesia so far. Also has all the other Malaysian staple food and drink.

Visited November2014

Labuan, known as the ‘International Garden Island of Borneo’, is a major destination as well as the site of several World War II memorials.

Promotional rates for hotels in Kota Kinabalu

Other attractions in Sabah that you might be interested

  • Mabul Island – Situated near to Sipadan, these two islands are great destination for macro-diving.
  • Danum Valley Conservation Area – Sabah’s largest expanse of lowland dipterocarp forest is haven to various bird species, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and over 110 mammals.
  • Banggi Island – Banggi island is one of Sabah famous islands for tourism. Its lush greenery, crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and diversified wildlife are some of the attractions.
  • White-Water Rafting – Enjoy the heart-stopping experience of contending the rapids! The Padas and Kiulu Rivers are popular for river rafting activities.
  • Sabah Museum – This museum in Kota Kinabalu is built in the longhouse style of the Rungus and Murut communities. It showcases a wealth of ethnic treasures and handicrafts.
  • Mountain Kinabalu – The majestic Mount Kinabalu, standing at 4,095.2m, is one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia. It is the main attraction of Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site.

Photo credits: autan, coppersmith, thienzieyung, Clint, deepgoswami, Miran Rijavec, MyBukit, Adib Wahab, eS-eLLe, 李 尚儒, Bertrand Duperrin, Alexander Synaptic, mattharvey1, matthew lee.

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  • puva July 6, 2013, 7:14 pm

    im planning celebrate my 1st year wedding anniversary at sabah. i already purchased the air ticket frm jhb to bki on 24th oct 2013 @ 1820pm, back bki tom jhb on 30 oct 2013@1010am. can help me on hotel n tour guide. give me a special offer. my anniversary on 28 oct….. so i would like to have a candle night dinner on that nite. 1 more couple follow us also…… so total 2 couples…..

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