I say: Borneo, you say: nature, jungle, orangutans, somewhere-in-Asia-rainforest-and-more. But next time, if I say Borneo, you say the dream beach is a place to go! For a short-haul break from Kuala Lumpur or a long-haul holidays from Europe, there is no better destination for nature admirers, scuba divers and adventure seekers. My time was achingly limited and I was forced to make a tough choice between many fantastic opportunities. For me, all turquoise islands are the greatest joy, so beach-hopping was the most tempting option out of all. Sandy bays, emerald waters, over water bungalows, what else could I ask for? I packed bikini, sun lotion, my favourite people in the world (cheers bro and my sis-in-love! ♥ ) and I was ready to explore.
Kota Kinabalu, affectionately called KK, is a perfect base to plan little escapes to fairy-like islands. There’s no need to organise any tours, guides or think too much in advance. The best thing you can do, is to wake up in the morning, walk to the jetty terminal (Jesselton Point is a walking distance from most of the city centre hotels) and then decide where you want to go, isn’t it convenient? Some of the islands, like Manukan and Sapi, are just 15 minutes ferry-away, some, like Mantanani, much further away, but most certainly you already know: a real paradise never comes easy and rarely is quick to reach.
Manukan Island is the most popular day trip from KK and was my first encounter with Borneo. Shamefully, I had no time to prepare before hand, therefore my expectations were pretty blurred. I was curious, that’s for sure, but not prepared for something so different. The island had some drawbacks: being overcrowded by loud Chinese holiday-makers as one of them, but the water… the aquamarine, blue-green colour of the water was just out of this world! It looked like a well maintained grass-field or fluffy moss, an extravagant combination of colours. The best part was that it took only 15 minutes and 10 US dollars to get there! There’s a resort you can stay in, but I didn’t really find it necessary. I sipped couple of cocktails, ate delicious pumpkin soup and enjoyed the company of a good book for the rest of the day.
Read more about Manukan Island (coming soon!)
The second islet, that me and my partners in crime decided to visit, was convenient to reach Sapi Island. Sapi is well-known for its beautiful soft sand, emerald water full of underwater goodies but also for tropical forest with mysterious monitor lizards. At least that’s what we heard. We arrived in the morning, I went scuba diving and my family was cheerfully sunbathing and enjoying the island. Later on during the day we had an ambitious 15-minute hike, did jolly photo shooting on a picturesque pier and went hunting for non-existent (in the afternoon) lizards. The island is tiny in size but provides a lot of fun for visitors, I liked it a lot!
Read more about Sapi Island (coming soon!)
MANTANANI aka MERMAID ISLAND
Oh Mantanani, you were just too good to be true. This island is a synonym of paradise. Like a kiss at the end of the rainbow or the taste of the sweetest strawberries in summer, it was just so breathtakingly beautiful! It’s a pain getting there: first by bus then by speed boat but it’s worth the effort. We were packed like sardines with many Chinese, but managed to do our own activities and escape the crowd at the end. Tourists come to the island mainly for snorkelling and so did our Chinese. After arrival to an island they boarded back the boat and were transported to the snorkelling site. That was our time to rule the place. We were running around, squealing with joy, drinking wine, jumping in the air and creating memories that will never be forgotten.
Read more about Mantanani Island (coming soon!)
When I was still in Borneo, I took a magazine with me, mainly to kill some time during a long journey back home. I really liked it, especially the Editor’s Note, which is definitely worth-sharing: *What are you grateful for? In our hurried world of instant gratification coupled with an overwhelming sense of entitlement, many of us are guilty of taking things for granted. Take time to express your gratitude for something you might have taken for granted.* I did and I will. I feel grateful for daydreaming by the stunning jade sea, for tasting that delicious Bornean cuisine and having that deep faith that even if it wasn’t exactlyalright right then, it will be alright one day.
I keep on falling in love with different places. I fell in love with Borneo too. I badly want to come back, especially for hammerhead sharks, orangutans and some other pristine islands of course. Dear time, be kind and don’t pass too fast, let us enjoy and let us revisit the places we dream of for so long. Bon chic, bon voyage xxx