My time in Sabah was one of the most enchanting weeks of my life.
Across the course of ten days with Sabah Tourism Board and Amazing Borneo Tours, I had the opportunity to do everything from white water rafting to local cooking to chasing monkeys through the jungle to sleeping in a traditional longhouse.
But one of the things that stuck with me most about my time in Sabah was the amazing sunsets and sunrises we witnessed on a nearly daily basis.
As if each new destination was vying for my affection with the last, each show at the end of the day was more spectacular than the last.
If you’ll indulge a little photographic reminiscence, I think you’ll agree that Sabah, Malaysia has some of the most beautiful sunsets (and sunrises) in the world.
#5 – Sunset from Sentinel Hill, Kota Kinabalu
The literal high point to my first day in Kota Kinabalu, Sentinel Hill affords some of the best views of the city and the water beyond.
Munching on fries washed down with iced coffee, my guide and I took in this rather fiery sunset ahead of our delicious dinner of local seafood down on the waterfront.
#4 – Sunset from Kudat, Borneo’s Northernmost Point
There’s a real sense that you’re at the edge of the world as you stand on Borneo’s northernmost point in Kudat.
Looking out over the point where the South China Sea and Sulu Sea meet, you can almost imagine how it must have felt centuries ago when this was quite literally the edge of your world.
Staying nearby at the quaint Lupa Masa Homestay, we had no electricity or phone service to distract us from the immense natural beauty in the region. It was all cicadas, tree frogs, and blessed peace.
Sunrise – Kota Kinabalu from the air
I just love landing in a new country and starting a new adventure early in the morning.
To me, it’s totally worth any pain that results from a largely sleepless red-eye flight.
This one, snapped at around 5.45am as I came in to Kota Kinabalu after a largely sleepless flight from Shanghai, filled me with excitement for the day (and week) to come.
#3 – Sunset from Tempurung Seaside Hotel
After a hard day of white-water rafting out on the Padas River, it was certainly a pleasant end to a long day to put my feet up on my hilltop balcony and take in this gorgeous west Sabah sunset.
Overnighting at the isolated and picturesque Tempurung Seaside Hotel, we were taken away from the distractions of our phones and computers and were able to just soak in the serenity.
A private beach is definitely one of my favourite things in the world, and I had the entire stretch of white sand and warm water to myself.
#2 – Sunset from Klias River
The Klias River is best known for its native proboscis monkeys, and it was this long-nosed primates that had drawn us to the region.
Racing through the waters on a speedboat really does make you feel like an explorer visiting some as yet undiscovered stretch of jungle, and you scan the blur of mangrove forest in search of signs of movement as you go.
The monkeys themselves are often hard to spot and even harder to photograph, but it’s all about the experience for me – and I loved it.
Later in the evening, maybe half an hour after the above was photographed, we’d go in search of smaller targets – the river’s famous fireflies. These proved impossible to photograph, but did seem to take a liking to me!
The Klias River Cruise included two cruises (one for the primates and one for the fireflies) as well as both afternoon tea and a buffet dinner.
Sunrise – Sabah Tea Garden
I’m not the kind of guy who relishes the opportunity to be awake before noon, so you can imagine my displeasure when my well-intentioned guide suggested we wake at 5.45am to catch the sunrise over the Sabah Tea plantations.
I’m genuinely glad he did though, as it was hands down the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever experienced.
With mist and clouds shrouding the low points of the undulating terrain and with utter silence as our accompaniment, we got to experience something transcendent as the rising sun slowly flooded the plantation with light.
#1 – Sunset from the Kota Kinabalu Sunset Cruise
Sabah saved the best for last, as my last night in Kota Kinabalu saw me out on the ocean for a Kota Kinabalu sunset cruise.
Accompanied by members of the Sabah Tourism Board and Nicole from Bitten by the Travel Bug, we snacked on local treats, sipped cold beers, and soaked in the beauty of greatest show Sabah had provided me in my ten days there.
Whizzing by water towns and chatting came to a halt as we took in the majesty of the show.
What country do you think has the best sunsets?