Adventure Cruising in Borneo!

Malaysia’s eastern coast and Borneo are rapidly becoming favorite cruising grounds for superyachts. While the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia is well traveled and documented, the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia - Sarawak and Sabah, Borneo, offer a much quieter scene. These cruising grounds award some of the most spectacular and beautiful waters, islands and wildlife experiences in South East Asia.

Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club in Kota Kinabalu in famous among cruisers on the SE Asian route as one of the top marinas in the region. Its incredible facilities include four pools, gym, bowling alley, squash and tennis courts, cinema, library, and a golf course. The Marina offers stern-to mooring spaces for Superyachts and Captain Jean-Francois Cormerais from Asia Pacific Superyachts reports that the new services and facilities at the Labuan Shipyard includes a 250T travelift and a 500T synchrolift, for maintenance for yachts up to 100 meters

KK is an ideal hub to explore the interior of Sabah, and visitors can opt to view and/or climb Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. Borneo’s tropical forests are home to many well-known mammals including up to 13 species of primates, but are less well-known such as the large armour-plated Sumatran rhino and the pygmy elephant.

An itinerary along the Kinabatangan River is rich in wildlife, and home for great apes and orangutans and the only place on earth where you can find proboscis monkeys. The orangutan is the largest tree-climbing mammal and the only great ape found in Asia. It’s estimated that around one third of its population was lost during the 1997/98 forest fires that swept across Indonesia, including Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).  The orangutans share Borneo's forests with a number of other primate species, including gibbons, Langurs, macaques, tarsier and the slow loris. A brief flight can take you to the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre (after arranging for a "privileged" visit) to visit orphaned orangutans up-close and personal.

Several rivers along Malaysia’s east coast empty into the China Sea but the mouths of these rivers cannot be navigated due to silting up. Sailors of old who wanted to re-supply and fill their water casks had to turn to islands like Tioman, making this island very popular with early Chinese traders.  Tioman Island, with eight main villages, is a densely forested island, sparsely inhabited and surrounded by numerous coral reefs - making it a popular scuba diving spot whose gorgeous beaches were depicted in the movie, South Pacific, as ‘Bali Hai’.  

Apart from its diverse marine life, the inland rainforest area in Tioman is a strictly enforced nature reserve with several protected species of mammals on the island from a total of 45 species of mammals and 138 species of birds, including the majestic Frigate bird. Species endemic to its shores might be glimpsed, like the Tioman Walking Catfish and, possibly the opportunity of seeing baby sea turtles being released to the sea by the ‘Sea Turtle and Sustainable Living Year-Round Volunteer Program’ on Tioman Island.

Borneo and Sabah are definitely receiving interest from superyachts throughout the world and the region is making huge strides in its work force as well as expanding its facilities for major refit work. The wonders and unique wildlife of Borneo’s Sabah can be a strong factor in planning future superyacht voyages.  

Photo Credit: Asia Pacific Superyachts

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