Home Borneo Choosing the right beach around Kota Kinabalu

Choosing the right beach around Kota Kinabalu

by James Wilmshurst

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 end 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 to help you in choosing the right beach around Kota Kinabalu, outlining the differentiating and distinguishing features of each so that you can ensure your accommodation is the perfect fit.

Bunga Raya in Borneo

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


Gaya Island ResortGaya 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 and similar to Bunga Raya. 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


Shangri La Rasa Ria

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 and with interconnecting rooms, is great for families too. The resort offers a fantastic selection of restaurants which is ideal for catering to a range of tastes.

Conclusion: a great choice for families and those looking for luxury in the Ocean Wing with easier access back into Kota Kinabalu for restaurants, or to visit Kinabalu National Park.

Insider tip: If you’re in Borneo in the summer and want to end at a really special island property, spend a night in Kota Kinabalu and fly on towards Japamala on Tioman Island off the east coast of Malaysia.

Looking for more ideas on the best beach resorts in Borneo?

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