Shrouded in myth and mystery, the state of Sabah in Malaysia’s portion of Borneo is famous for towering peaks, impenetrable jungle and incredible biodiversity. Its wildlife spotting potential (it’s one of the world’s best places to encounter orangutans and other species such as proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants) and the massive Mount Kinabalu, one of South-East Asia’s tallest mountains — over four times the height of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — tend to eclipse Sabah’s wondrous coastline unfairly. Upping the ante even further is the abundance of coral reefs and marine life that make offshore islands such as Sipadan and Lankayan among the world’s most rewarding bases for diving.
Other choice spots for sun-worshipping include the moon-shaped Kalumpunian Beach, a quiet and beautiful bay on the way from the capital Kota Kinabalu to the Tip of Borneo, the island’s northernmost point. KK itself even has a maritime paradise on its doorstep in the shape of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park — a small, rich archipelago boasting sandy beaches and ample areas for both diving and snorkelling.
When to go
Visit the west of Sabah from October to November. August and September are good months for the eastern beaches.
How to get there
Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Kota Kinabalu.
This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Smile magazine.