Category Archives: Island & Beach

Bawang Jamal Beach: Sunset, Longhouse, Milky Way

Playful children from local village

Need a break? Hearing someone says, “let’s go to the beach!” will definitely cheer you up. Everyone loves going to the beach. However, it stinks for beachgoers to get only a few meters of space at a popular but crowded beach. Personally I dislike sharing a beach with hundred of people.

Bawang Jamal Beach (or Pantai Bawang Jamal in local language)

Bawang Jamal Beach (Pantai Bawang Jamal in local language)

Photo of Coney Island Beach by Michael Candelori

A crowded beach in USA (photo by Michael Candelori)

Luckily, with about 1,300 Kilometers of coastline, Sabah has so many nice beaches that are enough for everyone to get over 10,000 Sq. Meters of space.

Bawang Jamal Beach

Bawang Jamal Beach is about 1 KM long

I’m not exaggerating. Bawang Jamal Beach (Pantai Bawang Jamal in local language), in north of Sabah, is one of them, and most of the time you would see less than 10 people on this 1-Kilometer long beach.

Intertidal zone

Water-filled trough (Runnel)

Promoting the beaches of Sabah to foreigners can be challenging sometimes, because my marketing managers would comment, “The photos are nice but hey.. the beach is so empty. Tourists would think that our beach ain’t fun or got shark!”

Panoramic view of Bawang Jamal Beach

Panoramic view of Bawang Jamal Beach

Located in Kudat, Bawang Jamal Beach is really hidden well behind a village and dense casuarina trees (GPS: 6.993149, 116.727974, see Location Map).

End of Bawang Jamal Beach

End of Bawang Jamal Beach

During my visit, I saw an Australian couple spending their vacation at this beach, and they say Bawang Jamal Beach is probably the best beach in Borneo. I had seen the seething mass of meat (people) in Bondi Beach of Sydney, so I understand why they love this secluded beach so much.

Tourist walking on the beach

Tourist walking on the beach

This beach is unspoiled and turtles also come to nest occasionally, and a turtle hatchery was built around here. Street and house light can drive turtles away, so no development could mean a good thing to wildlife.

White sandy beach of Bawang Jamal Beach

White sandy beach of Bawang Jamal Beach

Local children beachcombing for shells and seaweed

Local children beachcombing for shells and seaweed

The blue sea and snowy beach here are something that tourists willing to pay high dollar for staying in such an untouched beach. It’s a small bay flanked by rocky shores. The intertidal zone and sandy beach are wide, which is very suitable for kids who can’t stop running around.

Bawang Jamal Beach of Kudat

The island far behind is Kelambu Island

Edible seaweed

Edible seaweed found on the beach

Sometimes group of village kids would walk along the shore to collect edible stuffs such as shellfish and seaweed. In tourist beach we can’t do this because usually there is nothing left.

Crawl marks left by seashells

Crawl marks left by seashells

Rocky shore of Bawang Jamal Beach

Rocky shore of Bawang Jamal Beach

Rocky beach at the end of Bawang Jamal Beach

Rocky beach at the end of Bawang Jamal Beach

The rocky shore at the edge of the beach is fun to explore. You would see many small marine animals trapped in the tide pools. I can sit there whole day watching them crawling or swimming.

Starfish in tide pool

Starfish in tide pool

Rocky beach covered by yellow seaweed

Rocky beach covered by yellow seaweed

The most interesting feature of Bawang Jamal Beach is big area of rocky shore covered by yellow seaweed. It looks like a golden carpet when lighted by warm colors of sunset.

Beautiful sunset at Bawang Jamal Beach

Beautiful sunset at Bawang Jamal Beach

Rock formation along the beach

Rocks along the beach

Actually I want to photograph the luminous sea (“glowing sea” caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton) of Bawang Jamal Beach, but it wasn’t in peak condition during my visit. Anyway, I saw many fishes swam near to the shore to lay eggs, and a fisherman showed me his caught after night fishing, it’s kind of fun.

Fish caught by villager at night

Fishes caught by villager at night

Mossy rocks and seaweed on the beach

Mossy rocks and seaweed on the beach

No matter what, this beach is quite unique that I’m sure many photographers would thank me for introducing them another nice spot for landscape shots.

Milky Way at the beach

Milky Way at Bawang Jamal Beach

As this beach is free from light and dust pollution, you can see thousands of stars clearly in crystal clear sky. I shot a few photos of Milk Way. Later I found that some of my friends have no idea what is Milky Way because they never see one in the city.

Super Sunset

Not only that, the sunset view at Bawang Jamal Beach is spectacular. No kidding. The nice sunset and beach can be the excellent backdrop for romantic movie scenes.

Dog and cat enjoying sunset

Dog and cat seem to enjoy the sunset

Sunset view at Bawang Jamal Beach

Sunset walk at Bawang Jamal Beach

Our beaches are really underrated. I’m kind of upset when some travel portals rank some mediocre (but popular) beaches as the best in the world.

Panoramic sunset view

Panoramic sunset view

Sunset run on the beach

Sunset run on the beach

After seeing so many nice beaches in Sabah, I’m not easily impressed by beaches in other countries. In fact, many Sabahan friends return from overseas trip and say, “heck, you know what? Our beaches are better.”

Secret Place Cafe

By the way, if you stroll around this beach, you would find Secret Place Cafe near the midsection of the beach. Well, it’s not that secret. I saw a number of westerners relaxing there.

Secret Cafe Place

Secret Cafe Place

You can buy hot and cold drink such as tea, coffee, soft drink and beer there. They also sell food like fried rice, noodles, toast and omelette. The prices range from RM6.50 to RM8 (≈US$1.60-2.00) and the serving size is quite big. Though the cafe is not certified Halal, they serve no pork.

Beach at Secret Cafe Place

Beach at Secret Cafe Place

FYI, you also can rent snorkelling gears and camping tents at this cafe. I think they offer sunset BBQ too.

Lupa Masa Longhouse

For those who want to spend more wonderful time at Bawang Jamal Beach, Lupa Masa Longhouse is only 3 minute walk away from the beach. The design of this accommodation is based on traditional bamboo longhouse of Rungus people in Kudat. “Lupa Masa” means “Forget Time” in Malay language, which conveys that it is an enjoyable place where you would forget about time.

Lupa Masa Longhouse

Lupa Masa Longhouse

Like how villagers live, the bedroom and amenities of the longhouse are very basic. The room is quite warm during daytime, but quite cooling at night. Electricity for lighting is available. Common toilet and bathroom are just 10 Meters outside the longhouse. The place can accommodate about 12 guests.

Lupa Masa Longhouse

Lupa Masa Longhouse has some basic amenities (From left to right, top to bottom: longhouse, bedroom, washroom, verandah)

The accommodation fee per night is RM50 – 75 (≈US$12.50-19), depend on if you want to participate in Homestay (with full meals) or just Bed & Breakfast. They can help you to arrange various activities around Kudat, for example, snorkeling, fishing, sunset tour and river cruise.

Longhouse under the starry sky

Longhouse under the starry sky

Lupa Masa Longhouse is only 7 Km before the Tip of Borneo. Below is their contact:
E-mail: lupamasaborneo@gmail.com
Tel: +60 19-8020549
Website: lupamasa.com
Facebook: Lupa.Masa

Mangrove river behind Bawang Jamal Beach

Mangrove river behind the beach

Would you prefer a crowded beach or a tranquil beach? Please tell me in comment section below.

Photos taken in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Kelambu, One Island and Two Beaches

Kelambu Beach is also known as Kulambu Beach

At the north of Sabah, Kudat has the most number of nice beaches in Sabah, and many of them have unique geological features more than a stretch of white sand. Kelambu Beach (or Kulambu Beach) is a tombolo, which is a sand bar joining an island to the mainland and something rare in Sabah. Kelambu means mosquito net in local language, probably the beach is named after the mosquito-net shape of Kelambu Island.

Kelambu (or Kulambu) Island

Kelambu (or Kulambu) Island is connect to the mainland by a stretch of sand bar

Kelambu Beach (locally known as Pantai Kelambu) is accessible by tar road (mostly) and about 31 KM to the north-west of Kudat town and 8 KM at the south of the Tip of Borneo. There is no public transport going there, so you need to drive there yourself (GPS: 6.987443, 116.724120, see Location Map).

Kelambu Beach (Pantai Kelambu)

Kelambu Beach (Pantai Kelambu) is a public beach of Kudat

Kelambu Beach is a beautiful destination that escapes the radar of tourists. It has no facilities, except three seaside pavilions and a few barbecue pits (someone says a public washroom is available but I didn’t see it). In fact, locals would prefer that it remains undeveloped because we don’t to share this secluded beach with noisy tourists and greedy developers.

Aerial view of Kelambu Island and Beach on Google Map

Aerial view of Kelambu Island and Beach on Google Map

The 200-Meter sand bar to Kelambu Island is quite broad, about 20 to 30 Metres in width, and the soft sandy beach is comfortable to walk on with bare feet.

Kelambu Island (Pulau Kelambu) is connected to the mainland by a narrow stretch of sand bar

Kelambu Beach is also known as Kulambu Beach

There were only two families playing at the beach during my visit. The beach is big and everyone is far from one another, so I hear only lapping waves most of the time.

Crystal clear water of Kelambu Beach

Crystal clear water of Kelambu Beach (note the dark fish ball in the sea)

The crystal clear and shallow sea water is very inviting, so I soak my feet to enjoy the cooling water. I tried the water at both sides of the sand bar just for fun because someone say the water temperature is warmer at the right, which is a bay area. It’s true.

Panoramic shot of Kelambu Beach

Panoramic shot of Kelambu Beach

Here is a secret. If you come here at night, you would find luminous sea at Kelambu Beach. Whenever you touch the water, it will leave a light trail of your movement. The light is a natural chemical reaction called bioluminescence emitted by phytoplankton (a tiny organism) when disturbed. The light is more obvious during new moon.

Kulambu Beach is a secluded beach not known by most tourists

Kulambu Beach is a secluded beach only well-known among locals

However, there is no lighting around the beach, so please bring a torchlight if you want to explore here at night, and don’t go alone.

Kelambu Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Kudat

Kelambu Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Kudat

Rip tide warning at Kelambu Beach

Rip tide makes Kelambu Beach an unsuitable place to swim

Due to presence of rip tide, Kelambu Beach is not a safe place to swim. It’s ok to play near the shore, as long as you stay in water lower than your waist.

Kelambu Beach (or Pantai Kelambu in local language)

Kelambu Beach (or Pantai Kelambu in local language)

Fishing boats at Kelambu Beach

Fishing boats at Kelambu Beach

Unless you plan to have a picnic, a short visit to this beach takes less than an hour. Anyway, it is a great place to take vacation photos to harvest some Likes on Facebook. A selfie on this beach with Kelumba Island as your background is quite a killer shot.

Kelambu Island is a tombolo

The sand bar to Kelambu Island is a tombolo

Kelambu Island is an uninhabited and rocky island covered with lush forest. It takes you only 5 minutes to walk to that island during low tide.

Rocky bank of Kelambu Island (Pulau Kelambu)

Rocky bank of Kelambu Island (Pulau Kelambu)

When I explored around the island, I found a nice angle for photography. But a pile of seaweed on the beach was in the frame, and I didn’t want this. Therefore, I gave it a BIG KICK. Suddenly I was all over by a swarm of buzzing sandflies. That freaked me out because I thought I was attacked by bees. I ran like an Olympian to mainland and screamed “WTH! WTH?” all the way. Now I think it’s funny.

Blue Sky, White Sand and Green Forest at Kelambu Beach

Blue Sky, White Sand and Green Forest at Kelambu Beach

High tide floods the sand bar

High tide floods the sand bar

You can camp in Kelambu Beach, and the sand bar looks like a loving place to setup a tent. I would advise you not to do that because you would find that you sleep in the water later.

The sand bar of Kelambu Beach is flooded during high tide

The sand bar of Kelambu Beach is flooded during high tide

However, there are some rubbish scattered around Kelambu Beach, especially the area near the pavilions. A local non-profit organization, Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS) has been doing some beach clean up, but the visitors still litter at the beach.

Casuarina trees and shelters at Kelambu Beach

Casuarina trees and shelters at Kelambu Beach

Rubbish next to the Keep Clean sign

Trash next to the “Keep Clean” sign

You see. Local people always complain when some resorts or developers privatize a beach. But when they own the beach, they turn it into a dumping ground. With such attitude, do we deserve to have beautiful beach?

Littering at Kelambu Beach

Littering at Kelambu Beach

The pavilions are also not in good shape due to poor maintenance. I didn’t see any dustbin around too.

Damaged bench in the shelter

Damaged bench in the pavilion

Now Kelambu Beach just looks like a pretty but dirty girl. After some cleaning, I believe the beach will become super nice again.

The rubbish is an eyesore at Kelambu Beach

The rubbish is an eyesore at Kelambu Beach

I’m sure our government will do something about it after they see this post. Anyway, please don’t leave any garbage behind after you visit the beach. If we want to be successful in life, please learn not to let others to take care of our mess.

Photos taken in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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