why you should goDiscover the powdery soft beaches and pristine waters of the Sulu Sea, only taking time out from blissful relaxation to journey deep into the orangutang-filled jungle. Spend the night in the wild in your own rainforest villa, with nature treks, night drives and breathtaking canopy walks right outside your door.
Borneo is blessed with the oldest, virgin rainforests on earth and waters teeming with a huge diversity of aquatic life. Completely off the beaten track and wonderfully authentic, this beach and safari experience will give you the unique chance to visit an untouched part of the world.
After a short connection in KL, arrive into Kota Kinabalu and we’ll immediately whisk you off by private speed boat to the idyllic Bunga Raya Resort and Spa on Gaya Island. Set on a perfect arc of ivory beach, this boutique hotel has just 47 villas with private plunge pools overlooking the shimmering South China Sea. Your hideaway is surrounded by virgin rainforests housing thousands of indigenous species; the good news is that your dedicated guides are always on hand to take you straight from poolside into the jungle to meet many of them.
Spend the next three days in total relaxation making sure to squeeze in a visit to the award winning hilltop spa for an indigenous treatment. Then it’s a short hop to the other side of the island to Gayana Eco Resort, home to the unique marine ecology research centre. Your ocean view villa rests on stilts over the azure Sulu Sea and we don’t think it comes much better than jumping off your private terrace to snorkel over thriving reefs. After days frolicking in the crystal waters or relaxing on the beach, satisfy those hunger pangs at Alu Alu, where you will have the chance to pick your very own living ‘catch of the day’ from one of the 14 glass fish tanks.
For a spot of local culture we now invite you back to Kota Kinabalu to the Shangri La Tanjung Aru. Whilst the hotel provides both chic rooms and an eye catching infinity pool right on the beach, we think the nearby food markets are the real star attractions here. Take a whistle stop tour of the bustling night markets to enjoy the best satay sticks you will ever try.
Head up river to the monkeys
For the second part of your adventure it’s into the jungle. A short flight takes you to Sandakan: the gate way to the interior rainforests of Borneo. Your two night escapade begins with an early morning visit to the Sepilok Orang-utan rehabilitation centre for feeding time. You will have a chance to see the last of the wild orang-utans in Northern Borneo and get up close and personal with these oh-so-human mammals. Your next port of call is the Abai River lodge, two hours up the Kinabatangan River. Accessible only by boat, it’s remote to say the least but then again it is one of the best spots from which to glimpse the diverse wildlife. The rooms are comfortable and immaculately presented and are just what you need after a day out in the rainforest. The area is famous for its amazing freshwater prawns and it just so happens that Abai’s restaurant serves them up by the netful. To really get a taste of the jungle we will arrange guided walks and cruises through the small Kinabatangan tributaries that penetrate the dense jungle. What’s more, after dinner you will even be treated to night time excursions to view the creepy goings on.
Have a whale of a time on the beach
There is just about enough time left to sneak in a bit more beach time and what a beach we’ve found. Lankayan is a tiny coral island that takes just 10 minutes to walk its circumference. Here we’ll put you up in a cosy sea-front villa complete with huge comfy beds and large wrap-around balcony. The island happens to be one of the best diving locations on earth with unique chances to spot whale sharks, dive into sunken ship wrecks and marvel at hoards of leather-back turtles, to be honest we found it hard to drag ourselves out of the water.