Christmas Day falls on December 25 and is an occasion for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In Sabah, many people, even if they are not Christian, give each other gifts, prepare special meals and decorate their homes at this time of year. This is because the Christmas festive falls on the year end school holidays where children enjoy exchanging gifts, setting up wood fire and even decorating Christmas tree.
This Christmas, if you are still contemplating where to spend your holiday. The isle of islands in Borneo is one of the best options. This near island escapade gives a total opposite feel of winter snow Christmas like Europe; however, these perfects tropical islands provide a memorable vacation island of a lifetime.
Islands of Borneo
TAR Marine Park (Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park)
The TAR islands are easily accessible as they are close to Kota Kinabalu - about 15 to 20 minutes boat ride. You can choose to visit one or more of the islands in a day, or spend a night or two to enjoy the tropical moonlight and even night camp fire with your love ones. TAR Marine parks provide a perfect gateway for family gathering.
Pulau Gaya- One of the largest island at the Park at 140 hectares with 25km of shoreline. For divers, the coral reefs along the entire coast of the island are in excellent condition. There is one tropical resort on this island called the Gayana Island Eco Resort. The untouched coastal Dipterocarp forest is ideal for trekking and studying unique species of plant and animal life.
Pulau Manukan - This 51 acres boomerang shaped tropical Island is the second largest of the TAR Marine Park. Manukan has good stretches of beaches especially on the southern coastline. Ideal for snorkeling, diving and camping. There are also accommodations available with excellent facilities. However, due to the popularity of this particular island, the crowd congestion may be slightly noisy in during the day, making it a similarity like the enchanted island of Bali.
Pulau Mamutik - The smallest of the five tropical islands of the Park covering some 15 acres. Rich coral life surrounds the islands. The island has a jetty, a 3-bedroom rest house for rent and quarters for Rangers on the island. There were also sea sports such as banana boat, canoeing as well as water skiing for rent during the day. Mamutik island also serves as the main off shore station for your scuba dive lesson. Other facilities available include changing rooms, toilets, picnic shelters, tables and barbecue pits. There are also fresh water and electricity in the island.
Pulau Sapi - For a small tropical island of 25 acres, Sapi Island has one of the nicest beaches in the Marine Park. Its clean white sand, crystal clear water and teeming coral reefs fringing the shoreline makes it ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Day use facilities are available at the island such as a jetty, picnic shelters, barbecue pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets. There are also hiking trails available through the interior which can provide an excellent opportunity for you to appreciate nature in its wild habitat. If you are considering a destination for your children, this is the perfect edutainment island for children.
Pulau Sulug - Sulug Island with an area size of 20 acres is the farthest away from Kota Kinabalu. The tropical island is also the least developed. The shoreline is mostly rocky with beautiful patches of coral at the southern end. The island is however, very popular for those island hoppers who prefer the tranquil and untouched tropical beach atmosphere. Plenty of naughty long tailed Macaque welcomes your arrival. So, be careful with their snatch and begging behavior. This is the calmest and most quiet island and it is always the perfect pit stop for divers.
Perfect Escaped for the young, the young at heart, and the old
These islands are easily access, perfect destination not only for open water divers but also non divers. You can opt for the non diver package and just chill in your cozy room. It all depends how you want your Christmas to be, a romantic and quiet mode, or celebrating it with a warmth gathering among family members. This is because Sabah is blessed being well known as “Land below the Wind”. These islands are well sheltered from the rough waters of the typhoon belt. Choose your desired island according to your holiday theme; make your way to Jesselton Point at Jalan Pantai, your holiday is just a doorstep away!