Monday, June 02, 2014

Beyond the beaches: 4 of the best things to do in Borneo

Borneo is the world’s third largest island, divided among Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It's a heavenly retreat for people looking to get away from the city life; packed with cultures, beaches, rainforests and mountains. The best part of a trip Borneo can't be found in your hotel room, but outside where nature's at its finest.

Here are four things to do in Borneo that will get the heart pumping and show you the best of Borneo.

1. Climb Mount Kinabalu

Although climbing a mountain might not appeal to everyone, you should make an exception for Kinabalu. At 4095 metres it is relatively easy to climb. At the top you'll be rewarded with incredible views, a magnificent sunrise and at night - a starry sky you could almost reach out and touch.

It is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and the 20th tallest in the world. Many people climb Mount Kinabalu to see its miraculous biodiversity and unique and exotic species, especially orchids and pitcher plants.

The mountain is the central piece of the Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site located about an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu.

The park's most famous attraction is the Rafflesia plant, which grows the world’s largest flowers. These fleshy, smelly, bright red flowers sprout on the ground and only last facouple of days before wilting. And then they smell even worse than the rotting flesh scent normally attributed to them. Although they sound hard to miss, they're actually quite rare and you'll only stumble across one if you're very lucky.

2. Dive in Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is one of the best diving spots in the world with sightings of turtles, sharks, rays and other big marine creatures almost guaranteed. There are over 500 species of coral and 3000 species of fish identified to date.

From the air, Sipadan is a circle of green forest surrounded by an apron of reef about six times the size of the island itself. Anemones grow thick on the sunny sides of the reef so there is plenty of colour.

Mention the name Sipadan in front of any scuba diver and their eyes will instantly glass over. The snorkelling and diving opportunities here are simply unmatched anywhere in the world, thanks to rich marine habitat. It's also one of the best places in the world to swim with turtles.

Barracudas gather in hoards at Barracuda Point, like a sand storm of fish. Trevelly, snapper and reef shark are well represented and the bumphead parrotfish are more than just a funny name!