Every year, around three million local and international tourists go on a two-and-a-half hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah. Surrounded by captivating turquoise waters, the northern state in East Malaysia is dotted with a treasure trove of picturesque islands that are simply perfect destinations for a beach vacation.
While it’s blessed with lush tropical rainforests filled with exotic wildlife (the world’s biggest flower, the Rafflesia, can be found on Sipadan Island), many travellers also flock to Sabah for the world-class dive sites off its east coast. The islands of Sipadan, Mabul, and Kapalai have, in fact, earned a following among scuba divers around the world.
But if you aren’t confident about your diving skills, you can still be content with the state’s beautiful coastline, which stretches over 2,600km long. You can also choose to visit the five nearby islands at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which is only fifteen minutes away by boat from Kota Kinabalu. These islands include Pulau Gaya, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Sulug, and Pulau Mamutik, and can get quite crowded with tourists during the peak seasons.
Alternatively, you can look out for other more rustic spots such as Pulau Pom Pom, favoured for its laid-back ambience; Tiga Island, famous for being a location on the reality show Survivor and for its volcanic mud; and Taman Pulau Penyu, which is also known as Turtle Island.
With all these in mind, what’s next is to look for the best places to stay in while you visit the Land Below the Wind. We have prepared a list of 5 best places to stay in Sabah for you, with something to suit every traveller.