Plane views: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Sutera Harbour 

Sutera Harbour

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah which occupies the northern corner of the island of Borneo. ‘KK’, as the city is locally known, has arguably one of the most beautiful locations of any city in Malaysia. It faces the gorgeous emerald-coloured South China Sea while its harbour is protected by a chain of beautiful islands. From the city, rolling hills stretch into the hinterland where they become a towering, mist-shrouded mountain range that includes Malaysia’s highest peak: Mount Kinabalu (4,100m or 13,400 ft). This stunning mountain, an ancient volcano, forms an unforgettable backdrop for the city. See Mt. Kinabalu from the air.

Water villages, Gaya Island

Water villages, Gaya Island

KK is a bustling city with many markets, shops, restaurants and hotels. A promenade runs along a large part of the waterfront and is a lovely place to have a meal or a cold drink. The views of the sea and the nearby islands are simply enchanting. One of the biggest attractions of KK is its proximity to some of the most astounding nature in the world. At its back door, ancient rainforests harbour unique flora and fauna that is still being studied by scientists from around the world. At its front door are some of the best beaches and dive spots in the region. The many islands that dot the coast, such as Mantanani, Tiga (location of the very first ‘Survivor’ series) and Layang Layang are truly breathtaking. The emerald waters, blindingly white beaches, pristine corals and abundant marine life has every visitor spellbound.

Kota Kinabalu city & harbour

Kota Kinabalu city & harbour

I took some shots of KK and the surrounding islands on a recent flight to Kuala Lumpur. I was sitting in row ‘A’. As the plane took off (in a northerly direction), the first landmark that came into view was the lovely Sutera Harbour, with its twin hotels (Pacific & Magellan) fronting the sheltered yacht harbour, and the adjoining golf course. Sutera Harbour is a few minutes’ drive outside KK’s city centre. The plane then banked to the left and we were treated to stunning views of the ‘water villages’ (villages built on stilts above the sea) on Gaya Island, the shimmering KK harbour and the city centre in the background. We then flew over the chain of islands that hug the coast such as Sapi, Manukan , Mamutik, and later Tiga island and a series of amazing coral atolls.

Coral atoll, coast of Sabah

Coral atoll, along the coast of Sabah

If you’re visiting Malaysia, I strongly recommend setting aside some time to explore the state of Sabah. The wildlife is magnificent, the scenery is outstanding and the food is awesome! Visit the Sabah Tourism site for more information.

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11 Responses to “Plane views: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia”

  1. Keith Jenkins 28/12/2012 2:31 am

    Thank you Tom for your comment. I appreciate your opinion but please allow me to ‘correct’ a few inaccuracies in your comment. I wasn’t sitting in First Class – for the simple reason that Air Asia doesn’t have a First Class. Sitting in row ‘A’ doesn’t mean it’s First Class. Secondly, my flight wasn’t comp-ed. In addition, I have close to 700 posts on my blog. You’re entitled to call it the “worst generic travel blog” but I think that’s a harsh, perhaps premature view especially if you based your opinion on one post.


  2. tom mclean 28/12/2012 2:05 am

    Without question, that story is one of the worst, most generic, not-even-worthy-of-a-pr brochure I have ever read. Climbing Mt. K is a popular adventure tourism activity. You take a picture from row A, a compted first-class seat. Yuk. This is the worst generic travel blog out there.

  3. Dave and Deb 02/11/2009 4:32 am

    Wow, excellent photos! We loved our time in Sabah. It is such an amazing place for adventure travel and climbing Mount Kinabalu was a highlight.

  4. velvet 29/10/2009 6:35 pm

    Hi Mindy,
    Thanks for the comment. You’re right. I should’ve mentioned it but there’s more info. about Sabah’s amazing attractions in the embedded link in this article. This includes the Kinabalu National Park.


  5. Mindy McAdams 29/10/2009 6:28 pm

    Great post, velvet! You didn’t mention it, but Kinabalu National Park (a World Heritage Site) is one of the most spectacular rain forests you can visit, and climbing the mountain is a regular activity for many Malaysians (and tourists too).


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