Kelambu, One Island and Two Beaches

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 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) 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

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 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 (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

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 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

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)

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.

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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