Borneo, the world’s third largest island, is divided between three countries. The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up the north, with the small country of Brunei sandwiched between them, and Indonesia‘s Kalimantan occupies the south. Tourism here revolves around biodiversity, rainforests and an incredible selection of beaches.
Planning a trip to this Southeast Asian island? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s 10-day adventure to Borneo, which includes visits to an orangutan sanctuary and an organic tea farm, and a snorkelling trip in Kota Kinabalu.
Once the setting of popular TV series Survivor, Pulau Tiga is now a favourite tropical island for adventurous tourists in Kota Kinabalu. It is one of three small islands that make up Tiga Island National Park, and features a number of isolated stretches of sandy coastline. At 50km (31mi) from Kota Kinabalu, getting to the island can be challenging, but persevere and be rewarded with pristine beauty and a true desert island experience.
Kota Kinabalu’s best beach, Tanjung Aru, boasts an impressive stretch of orange sand against a backdrop of palm trees. Sat adjacent to Kota Kinabalu International Airport and within a few kilometres of the city centre, the area is a favourite hangout for locals and tourists in the early evening. Several benches and barbecue facilities fill the park next to Tanjung Aru, making it an ideal place to relax and watch the spectacular sunset.
Head to Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, and gaze out across the sea at the small archipelago that makes up Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, named after Malaysia’s first prime minister. The most visited of these is Manukan Island. Just 15 minutes by ferry from Jesselton Point, passengers will arrive at a 1km (0.6mi) white sand beach with crystal clear water. Dense rainforest bursting with monkeys sits behind the coastline; coral reefs and an abundance of marine life fill the sea. Manukan is a world-class snorkelling destination.
Tusan Cliff in Sarawak sits approximately 40km (25mi) south of Miri. This beach has clean, soft sand and rugged cliffs, satisfying any photographer’s definition of scenic. But Tusan Cliff also features one of the world’s most rare and spectacular natural events: when conditions are right, the sea begins to glow. Tiny micro-organisms called dinoflagellates emit light when they’re agitated by the waves. The effect creates a neon blue glow in the shallow shores against the inky black abyss of the sea. It takes an hour to reach Tusan Cliff from Miri by car.
Brunei doesn’t have a reputation for having the best beaches in Borneo, but Muara Beach, approximately 27km (17mi) northeast of its capital Bandar Seri Begawan, is something of an exception. The sprawling, orange sand hugs an immaculate park with picnic tables and a play area for children. Whether tourists are looking to catch the sunset or see more of Brunei, Muara Beach won’t disappoint.
With white sand, crystal clear water and beachside palm trees, the Derawan islands are a top place to relax in Kalimantan. Derawan Beach, located approximately 17km (11mi) off the East Kalimantan coastline in the Sulawesi Sea, is a haven for diving enthusiasts. Apart from enjoying the resorts and pristine coast, you can admire coral reefs, dolphins, the occasional whale and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.