When you’ve experienced all that KK has to offer, savoured the rich traditions and vibrant Sabah festivals, marvelled at the orangutans, and cruised the wondrous Kinabatangan River, it’s time to escape to restful shores and relax on far-flung beaches. Avid explorers will relish discovering Sabah’s many secret hideaways and deserted beaches, from secluded islands to jaw-dropping waterfalls nestled amid virgin rainforest.
North of Turtle Islands lies the tiny droplet of Lankayan Island. Boasting a lush green interior and ringed with soft white sand, this secluded jewel has a clutch of wooden bungalows for visitors and offers barefoot tranquillity. Its pure shores are paradise for scuba divers, with the surrounding waters positively blooming with marine life, corals and even elusive whale sharks. Located within the Sea Turtle Corridor, the island is also a nesting spot for green and hawksbill turtles. Enjoy Robinson Crusoe bliss with myriad marine marvels.
Madai Waterfall, Sabah
Visit the tumbling falls in Madai Baturong Virgin Forest Reserve and delight in the peace of this natural wonderland. Visitors who take a dip in the shallow area of the pool will find themselves surrounded only by sky, verdant foliage and the ancient rocks that form the cascading falls.
For visitors looking to chill out and wind down, Mantanani Island is a 50-minute picturesque boat ride from the mainland but feels like another world entirely. The island is fringed with idyllic white beaches, many of which remain blissfully peaceful, despite the presence of a backpacker lodge and luxury resort. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and barefoot vibes of an island where days are spent snorkelling in turquoise waters with blue-spotted rays and evenings begin by watching blood-orange sunsets melt into the horizon.
While not totally unknown, Kelambu’s back-to-nature aesthetic has kept it relatively protected from the tourist radar. Located in a quieter part of Kudat, the picturesque sweeping sandbar is Instagram gold, with tree-dotted Kelambu Island a fantastic backdrop. One of the best beaches on the mainland, Kelambu is all about the water, waves and the spectacular shoreline.
Fringed by swaying coconut trees and dotted with wooden huts, the wide expanse of Tempurung beach has a rustic vibe and retains much of its authentic charm. Although there are a couple of resorts and peaceful lodgings along the shoreline, the long stretch of beach ensures there is ample space for visitors to relax and watching the lapping waves in peace. Just one kilometre from Tempurung lies the soft sands and sparkling rock pools of Batu Luang beach, which boasts one of the best sunset views in Sabah.