Magical Sabah - a family adventure!

Adventure Apr 6, 2023

We did another family adventure to the beautiful island of Sabah in Malaysia after a gap of over 5 years since our last family holiday to Turkey in 2018. The main organizer of the itinerary, as usual, is Sharmila. She is so good at finding the most unique places to visit, and the most economical places to stay that provide the best experiences!

Here is a summary of our itinerary. The map above provides the locations and highlights (see it in full screen mode). Below is the detailed itinerary.

  • Part 1: Sepilok

  • Day 1

    Sandakan Airport

    We landed from KL to Sandakan with great views from the sky before landing. From the airport, we drove to Nature Lodge, Sepilok.

  • Nature Lodge Sepilok

    The Nature Lodge Sepilok resort is a well laid out facility that includes dormitories and individual rooms with an excellent restaurant for breakfast and buffet meals

  • Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre

    After breakfast, we headed to the the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), which is a 10 minute walk away. This is a sun bear rescue and rehabilitation facility and houses several bears that are provided protection and care

  • Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary

    Next to the BSBCC is the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. Around 60 to 80 orangutans live independently in this reserve and approximately 25 orphaned orangutans are housed in the nurseries

  • Rainforest Discovery Centre

    We came back to the resort for lunch, and then headed back out to the Rainforest Discovery Center. The 620 m long Rainforest Skywalk lets you discover life in the treetops. The many looped trails provide many hiking possibilities. You will find many informative panels to read about along the main trails

  • Part 2: Kinabatangan

  • Day 2

    Drive to Kinabatangan

    On Day 2 we packed and got into a cab to drive to Kinabatangan. It is a beautiful drive from Sepilok to Kinabatangan through endless palm oil plantations

  • Kinabatangan Wild Life Lodge

    In Kinabatangan, we stayed at this beaufiful lodge located on the slopes of Bilit Hill, located near to the Kinabatangan river. Beautiful log cabins as rooms spread over a hillside with a dining area that is a place to share experiences and Wifi connection

  • Day 3

    River Wild Life Cruise

    A boat ride with Azlan, our guide who had incredibly sharp eye sight, and he helped spot all kinds of local and endemic species including the Proboscis monkey, large and baby crocodiles, various species of birds and lot of different types of monkeys

  • Day 4

    Hike to Bilit Hill

    A nice short hike to Bilit Hill with Azlan keeping us entertained. From the top of the Bilit Hill we got a beautiful view of the river, the forest and the palm oil plantations

  • Part 3: Mabul Island

  • Day 5

    Drive to Semporna

    We had an early breakfast and got into the cab to the 4 hour drive to Semporna. The landscape was very similar, but we just got a glimpse of the islands in the bay of Lahad Datu. We arrived at Semporna Jetty while it was raining, and met with Calvin, our guide.

  • Uncle Chang Sipadan Mabul Dive Resort

    From Spemorna Jetty, our guide Calvin took us in a speed boat for an hour long ride to Mabul Island. We arrived at a an enchanting place with rooms on stilts built on the shallow coast of Mabul Island. The views of the ocean from the rooms, the constant sound of ocean waves gently lapping the stilts, the fantastic food prepared by the reticent cook, and no connectivity. A perfect combination of factors to enjoy a chilled holiday!

  • Day 6

    First Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Session

    Our first scuba diving and diving sessions happened at the coral reefs off Mabul island. While we did our discovery dive, Shimul started her advanced course with the pros

  • Scuba Diving at Pulau Kapalai

    Our second scuba diving session on the same day post lunch was at a nearby island of Kapalai. Shimul's advanced course team went much deeper than us, but we could see quite a few acquatic species

  • Day 7

    Scuba Diving at Sipadan Island

    The final location for Shimul's advance course dives were off Sipadan island, where an under water coral cliff provides ample opportunities for sightings of fabulous aquatic species

  • Part 4: Semporna Island Hopping

  • Day 8

    Bohey Dulang Island

    After a night at the Wing Tat Grand (WTG) hotel, we set off early next day for the island hopping tour. Our first island was Bohey Dulang. There is a short 45 min hike up the steep hill, but the views from the observation point are fabulous!

  • Snorkeling at Mantabuan Islet

    Our second halt in the island hopping trip was the Mantabuan islet. This is a small islet that is not accessible during low tide, and so we only could do lunch in the boat near its shore, and do snorkeling

  • Chilling on Pulau Sibuan

    The third and last hop of our island hopping was on the small islet of Sibuan. There is a beautiful beach and great views of the surrounding islands. We did played around on the beach, paddled around in the canoe, and then lounged in the garden till it was time to get back

  • Drive to Tawau Airport

    The last leg of our journey was to drive from Wing Tat Grand Hotel, where we did a late check out to allow us to freshen up and shower after the island hopping tour and head over to Tawau Airpot to fly back to KL

  • Tawau Airport


Here are the links to various websites that can provide additional information about some of the above locations

For any additional information, questions or feedback please use the comments below.


Ashutosh Bijoor

Adventurer, mathematician, software architect, cyclist, musician, aspiring wood worker