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Borneo's Sabah is one of the most beautiful corners of the world, endowed with far more than its fair share of natural wonders and a spectacular backdrop for a bit of an adventure. As well as being ripe for adventure, this is also a spectacular place to relax, and some of the best places to stay in Sabah are the ones which take best advantage of their idyllic surrounds. And these are found at all points along the price scale from guesthouses in the mountains to luxurious resorts right on the water.
There's beauty from top to bottom, from the peak of breathtaking, but achievable, Mt Kinabalu, to the beautiful reefs under the water level - suitable for beginners as well as experienced divers.
Sabah's natural beauty doesn't stop with the landscape, Sabah is home to one of the world's best orang-utan rehabilitation centres, where you can see these ginger fellas having a whale of a time in their natural habitat. Sabah is also home to the charming doe-eyed loris and some of the world's most colourful butterflies. And just off the coast are a number of islands known as nesting grounds for hawksbill and green turtles.
Sabah also has a number of rare plant species - and pretty spectacular ones at that! On the slopes of Mt. Kinabalu you'll also find an impressive orchid garden and Sabah is home to the raffelisa flower - the world's largest bloom, capable of producing flowers up to a metre in diameter!
Then there's the beaches and islands, off which you'll find some of the world's best diving and snorkelling - the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park boasts sea turltes, reef sharks and manta rays. But the beaches themselves are beautiful too. Even the ones populated by cheeky monkeys trying to steal your lunch.
Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu is colourful, with plenty of great places to eat and some fun markets. But there are plenty of fun smaller centres to consider as well, if you're looking for a quieter retreat.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Sabah all boast proximity of beautiful sandy beaches and are ideal whether you're booking your honeymoon or a family holiday of a lifetime.
For a Relaxing Beach Break
- The Gaya Island Resort is a collection of fantastically canopied rooms and suites set in amongst the mangroves and rainforest, right beside its own private beach. This is a great place to bring your family to experience some of the wonders of Sabah's rainforests - there's excellent birdwatching within the grounds of the hotel. There's also a luxurious spa, a good seafood restaurant and a kid's club.
For a Special Occasion
- The Gayana Eco Resort is an eco-resort associated with a marine research centre, so as well as enjoying wooden villas on stilts which hover over the aqua sea below, you're helping to fund local marine research. There's also a dive school and a fabulous spa and a very good Malayan restaurant.
- Bunga Raya is another collection of wooden villas on stilts, sitting out over beautiful waters and surrounded by jungle and white, sandy beach. This is the perfect honeymoon spot, with luxurious suites and villas, a 25 metre infinity pool and an excellent malayan restaurant.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Sabah for you?
Best Hotels in Sabah
Gaya Island Resort 120 rooms from $195Kota Kinabalu (Pulau Gaya)
Fantastic canopied rooms and suites set amongst mangroves and rainforest with its own private beach and pontoon. Luxurious Village Spa, fresh seafood restaurant, and chic suites with all the mod cons. Kids club too. Perfect for a beach paradise, romantic, and family friendly.LuxuryBeach LifeHoneymoonsBirdwatching - Rainforest surround the hotel, and plays home to many birds and wildlife.
Gayana Eco Resort 52 rooms from $216Kota Kinabalu (Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman)
An eco resort with wooden stilted villas that hover over the aqua sea below. Luxury sophisticated interiors with all the mod cons, including DVD players. Some interconnecting rooms. Marine research centre, diving school, fabulous spa, and excellent Malay restaurant. Families and nature lovers.Eco - Ecology is at the heart of this resort.FamiliesEco breakSpa breaksRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Kiwi Collection
Bunga Raya 48 rooms from $284Kota Kinabalu (Kota Kinabalu,)
A laid back tropical paradise. Wooden villas on stilts, white sand beaches, promenades, luscious jungle, marine life, and a Borneo-style spa. Superbly luxurious suites, two to three in each villa, all the mod cons, a 25 metre infinity pool, and an excellent Malay restaurant. Honeymoon perfect!Honeymoons - An ultimate beach, jungle, spa location for honeymooners.Spa breaksLuxuryBeach LifeRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith