An afternoon at Sabandar Beach
This time we rewind to 2017 when my brother Paul and his family spent a memorable holiday with us in Kota Kinabalu. Paul lives near Loch Lomond in Scotland and when the weather’s nice the family loves nothing more than to head for the Scottish Islands and find a remote and deserted beach on the Isle of Arran or Skye. I thought we’d try to organise something similar locally here in Sabah although I plumped for the Borneo mainland rather than a pulau (island)…
I had known about Sabandar Beach for a while, and bizarrely had heard about Sabandar whilst I was in the UK. Our nephew is studying in the UK and over lunch one of his Sabahan student friends told me about this beautiful and secluded beach that he knew from riding horses from a nearby stables. With the location pinpointed on Google Maps I vowed to visit as soon as I was back in Sabah…
After a satay lunch we took a leisurely drive north towards the town of Tuaran that is about an hour north of KK. South of Tuaran we headed west off the main road towards the sea and after several kilometres there was a surprise in the shape of Tambalang Racecourse that’s operated by Royal Sabah Turf Club. With its grandstand, perfectly manicured turf and the racecourse marked by white rail fence if it wasn’t for the tropical heat you could almost imagine you were at Sandown Park in Surrey.
The road to the sea is a little convoluted and there’s a few opportunities to make a wrong turn but eventually you pass the aforementioned stables, and then in the distance to the west you can see a gap in the horizon that is the entrance to the beach.
The beach is clean and in the afternoon sun the white-sand hot to the touch, the sea is like a warm bath and it was a great opportunity for the family to relax, have a paddle and throw a rugby ball around. The friendly locals tell me that tourists don’t visit so if it’s not a weekend or a public holiday you’re most likely have the place pretty much to yourself. A café on the beach serves cold drinks and light local eats and there’s individual changing huts that you can use for the princely sum of RM1 (one ringgit).
If you’re lucky as we were you’ll be rewarded by a spectacular sunset as the sun slowly sets over the South China Sea. It really is one of those beautiful natural sights to lock away and keep safe and sound in your memory for ever…my words cannot capture its beauty, but Paul’s wonderful photographs do, and I hope you enjoy.
Top Tip for Visitors:
Visit mid-afternoon and keep your fingers crossed for a spectacular sunset...and don't forget your high SPF sunscreen!
Martin is a British expat living in Kota Kinabalu who arranges tailored tours within Sabah primarily for British and Western tourists on behalf of Blue Kinabalu Travel Agency. Please help spread the word about beautiful Sabah and share this post using the social share buttons below.