Choosing the right beach around Kota Kinabalu

It’s a great problem to have. You’re heading off to sunny Borneo, abound for beaches and wildlife galore, and are now faced with the decision as to which beachside resort to spend your stay. Having travelled across the world, you’ll want to ensure the one you choose is really right for you. Here we compare three of our favourites around Kota Kinabalu, outlining the differentiating and distinguishing features of each so that you can ensure your accommodation is the perfect fit.

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1. Bunga Raya
Bunga Raya is a unique property with a wild, rustic aesthetic. It offers the best views on the island and exceptional beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Guests can partake in a variety of great soft adventure activities and are also permitted access to the fantastic marine centre at Gayana Eco Resort, a sister property, which is perfect for those with kids that need to be entertained. Though the resort is small, it is spread out so that you still get a sense of privacy which makes it a great option for couples and honeymooners. For wine lovers, it is also worth noting that the resort has an award-winning wine cellar- ideal for a sunset tipple.

In terms of practicality, there are easy transfers back to the mainland at decent value. Further, the conservation cost is included in the price- so, unlike at the Gaya Island resort, you won’t have to pay at the resort.

Conclusion: a characterful resort ideal for those looking for beautiful beaches and soft adventure

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2. Gaya Island Resort

A beautiful resort with a chic, exclusive feel- this is ideal for those who prefer a more refined aesthetic as opposed to the rustic luxury of Bunga Raya. Though larger than Bunga Raya, again it is spread out so doesn’t feel crowded or busy. The resort offers two lovely pools, one for kids only, as well as two restaurants, one of which exclusively for those aged twelve and over. As such, with areas designated specifically for kids, this is a great spot for couples and honeymooners.

One of the best things about this hotel is the price: the rooms are great value for money (the cheapest on the island). That said, there are additional costs to consider- for example, although transfers back to the mainland are short, they are quite expensive. Food and beverages are also on the expensive side compared to others in Borneo, but good value for such a high-quality beach property. Additionally, it is worth noting that as it’s on a hill, rooms at the back of the property can be a steep climb.

Conclusion: a chic and reasonably priced option that would be a great spot for romance

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3. Shangri La Rasa Ria

Part of the world-renowned Shangri La luxury hotel franchise, this is both the largest and most expensive of the three hotels, but still manages to offer serenity and privacy. Unlike the other two, it is situated on the mainland, and is the closest to Mouth Kinabalu and Kinabalu National Park. It is also home to a stunning long white sandy beach, the best in its area. The Ocean Wing holds the most exclusive rooms in the region with interconnecting rooms, so is great for families. The resort offers a fantastic selection of restaurants which is ideal for catering to a range of tastes.

Conclusion: a great choice for families looking for luxury, serenity and proximity to Mount Kinabalu

Insider tip: there is a new property opening on Pulau Tiga (the original survivor island) called the Borneo Eagle which is set to be the most luxurious and remote of them all- watch this space!

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Amelia Curran

Amelia is the blog editor in the UK office. She also helps with generating marketing material – from updating the website to creating digital guides to liaising with journalists.

James Wilmshurst

James is an Asia travel specialist. On his first trip to Southeast Asia, travelling overland from Hanoi to Bangkok, his imagination was well and truly captured and he’s been exploring this part of the world ever since.


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