Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah (map) 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 Mount Kinabalu from the air.
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 from a plane window
I took some shots of KK and the surrounding islands on a recent visit. 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.
The plane then banked to the left and we were treated to stunning views of the ‘floating 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.
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! Read more about things to do in Sabah and my visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.
See other ‘Plane Views’ articles.