Wednesday, June 19, 2013

10 Reasons to Desert Yourself on Gaya Island

On Borneo’s Gaya Island, you’ll feel like you’ve found absolute paradise. Here are 10 reasons you’ll want to desert yourself here and never leave.

A few minutes off the Borneo coast of Kota Kinabalu, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, lies a refuge away from life as most of us know it. Located on the island of Pulau Gaya within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Malohom Bay sweeps majestically at the Gaya Island Resort’s feet.

1. You might just lay down and weep

Okay, so you’re not really deserted. But it sure feels like it. On the approach, it’s impossible to tell that 120 villas nuzzle into the hillside of an ancient rainforest. Built with local materials that blend seamlessly into the natural escarpment, each contemporary villa has a unique outlook of the South China Sea, lush rainforest or the beach. With oversized baths, flat screen TVs, and outdoor living rooms with day beds, you’ll be in rapture calling this home, if only temporarily.

2. You’ll eat glorious food

The menu offers some of the best cuisine in Sabah, with a mix of local dishes, western favourites and seafood plucked straight from the sea. Most guests flock to the casual Feast Village for its diverse dishes, while others step it up a notch at the fine-dining Fisherman’s Cove, which is perched on a rooftop, making the most of the sea views and Mt Kinabulu hovering in the distance. You can also go primal and tear apart some seafood at a beach BBQ.

3. You’ll be lead astray

There aren’t many resorts that come with their own botanist, personally guiding guests on nature walks through an ancient rainforest. Here you might meet some of the island’s inhabitants including proboscis and macaque monkeys, hornbills, mouse deers, bearded pigs, lizards or any of the 622 bird species recorded on the island. If paradise is just too much to handle, there are off-island excursions like a tour to Kinabalu Park, a visit to local villages, or cycling through the countryside.

4. You can explore below the sea

The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park comprises several islands off Borneo and local marine biologists invite guests to a wonder-world of coral, colourful sea sponges, giant clams, sea anemones, clown fish and lobsters. The conditions are usually so clear that it’s a popular spot for underwater photography and specialty photography courses are offered. The more experienced can take a night dive and novices can take a PADI course and learn from the experts where all the best viewing spots are.

5. You can explore above the sea

Motorized and non-motorized water sports equipment like kayaks and stand-up paddle surfs are available for hire. Holiday snaps will impress, especially if you’re holding up a giant tuna caught on your chartered fishing trip.

6. You’ll feel deserted

If sharing your island with other guests becomes tiresome, then escape to a deserted beach with your beloved and little more than a snorkel and a picnic basket. It’s a favourite past-time for honeymooners—the only way on or off the beach is by boat.

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