6 Reasons to put Borneo on your Bucket List

With Stray, we visit the Malaysian state of Sabah. Sabah is home to ancient rainforests, awe-inspiring hikes, and arguably the best scuba diving spots on the planet. Whatever inspires you to travel, you’ll find it off the beaten track in Borneo.

If you’ve never heard of Borneo before, after learning a little about it you’ll be itching to roam this beautiful, rugged island in Southeast Asia. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, and home to some of the most diverse wildlife, both on land and in the sea. The island is split into three countries; Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.

It’s seriously off the beaten track

When I say Southeast Asia, countries like Thailand and Vietnam spring to mind for most people. If you’re one of those travellers who strives to get to places that feel untouched by the masses, then Borneo is the perfect spot. Although by plane it is pretty close to tourist hot spots like mainland Malaysia and Singapore, it will feel like a world away when you roam the untouched jungles of Sabah.

Orangutans and Sun Bears

Borneo is a chance to see some of the most critically endangered animals roaming free in the wild. There are only two places in the world where wild Orangutans can be found, and Borneo is one of them. The Sabah area is a haven for these gentle, inquisitive creatures, and if you explore Borneo with Stray, there is a good chance you’ll spot one along the Kinabatangan River.

Borneo is also the place to see the smallest bear in the world, the little known Sun Bear.  Recognisable by the patch of white or yellow on their chest, Sun Bears are known for their love of honey. Sound familiar? While extremely rare in the wild, Borneo is home to the world’s only Sun Bear Sanctuary, where you can see bears that have been rescued from captivity.

So. Many. Cute. Animals.

It’s not just Orangutans and Sun Bears, there are so many more amazing creatures to encounter in Borneo. Flying squirrels, Probosci’s monkeys, Slow lorises, long-tail macaques, hornbills, kingfishers, even pygmy elephants roam the rainforest. For wildlife lovers, Borneo is truly paradise.

Proboscis monkeys on a tree, Borneo, Malaysia
Proboscis monkeys on a tree, Borneo, Malaysia

Explore a marine mecca

Once you’ve had your fill of land-based animals, you can take a trip to Turtle Island, where you can see the endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles. The people of this small island community are serious about protecting these gentle creatures, and during your visit, you will learn about their conservation efforts – you can even help release baby sea turtles into the ocean.

You could also venture to Sipadan Island to see some of the most biologically diverse reefs in the world. With bright corals, hundreds of species of tropical fish, and visiting giants like Whale Sharks, Sipadan is said to be one of the best SCUBA diving and snorkelling spots in the world.

See the oldest rainforest in the world

The rainforest area of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s first world heritage site, is estimated to be around 130 million years old. That makes it one of the oldest rainforests in the world! This rainforest has literally thousands of different species of plants – one survey estimated that Mount Kinabalu has more species of plant than all of Europe and North America combined.

Not to mention, if you’re up for the climb, the views from the peak are absolutely breathtaking.  The wanderlust is real!

Chill on insanely beautiful beaches

Our Stray trip will take you to the tip of Borneo, to an untouched beach truly off the beaten track. You’ll struggle to find another human insight, and as the evening draws near, you’re in for a spectacular show. With views of the Philippines in the distance, and the sun dipping into the South China sea, this could be the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen.

When will you visit Borneo?

Borneo is a diverse island full to the brim of the world’s best, most and only.  Teeming with rare and unusual wildlife, scenic hiking in lush rainforests, and epic sunsets on tranquil beaches, this tropical destination is totally deserving of a place on your Bucket List. Check out our new Borneo Explorer Tour.

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Emily is a native creative nerd. This creative crew member's favourite stop is Bay of Islands.

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