Manukan Island

Nature enthusiasts and outdoorsy couples will delight in a post-wedding getaway to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah, Borneo.

This alluring Southeast Asian isle is split between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei and is the third largest island in the world.


From the towering peak of Mount Kinabalu to lush forests and turquoise waters, Borneo is an island of topographical diversity and striking beauty. It’s also home to an array of rare and unusual flora and fauna including orangutans and the Rafflesia flower, the largest flower on Earth!

For those short on time, a few days in Kota Kinabalu is an ideal way to welcome in married life, sans long-haul flight. And, if you’re feeling extra intrepid, the city provides the perfect gateway to explore the rest of exotic Borneo.


An island day trip

Best for: sun-loving couples

A cluster of gorgeous tropical islands lay just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, so a spot of island hopping is a honeymoon must-do! Join an excursion to Gaya Island for a leisurely day of snorkelling, kayaking and rainforest walks in this pristine nature reserve, which forms part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Gaya Island

Mangrove forest

Nearby Manukan Island is another idyllic choice for beach-loving couples! Simply book a ferry transfer from Jesselton Point and enjoy a day of snorkelling on shallow coral reefs, swimming, parasailing and a laidback lunch at a cute island eatery.



Paddle and cycle tour

Best for: adventurous newlyweds

Select the Bike Borneo rafting adventure and cycling excursion for a day trip which offers the perfect mix of adventure, sightseeing and nature.

You and your love will clamber aboard an inflatable raft and enjoy a laughter filled morning on the picturesque Kiulu River, splashing down rapids, whizzing by tropical rainforest and spotting native wildlife.


Next, it’s cycling time! After getting kitted out, you will spend the afternoon cruising through rural villages and passing by farms, temples and jungle plantations, giving you an authentic insight into local Borneo life.


It’s a relatively flat, not overly strenuous ride, however you may have to negotiate a few swinging suspension bridges along the way. The good news is a support vehicle is nearby at all times and you have the choice to alter the route to your ability, so you can choose to skip some of the bridges!

A sparkling evening cruise

Best for: wildlife lovers

For a magical evening of glittering fireflies and intriguing wildlife sightings, join a tour to the mysterious Klias Wetlands.

Klias Wetlands 2

This natural sanctuary is a haven for native wildlife like eagles, long-tailed macaques and kingfishers, and the ideal place to catch a glimpse of the rare and delightfully unusual Proboscis monkeys. These tree dwellers are endemic to Borneo, so have your eyes peeled for a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.

Klias Wetlands

After the cruise, tuck into a hearty Malaysian-style dinner, before taking a shuttle transfer back to your honeymoon suite – the perfect date night for nature loving couples!

A relaxing stay

Boasting a luxurious spa, lavishly appointed rooms and suites, sparkling swimming pools, four restaurants, three bars and an ideal beachfront location, the Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa is a gorgeous choice for honeymooners.


You and your love will wake up to sweeping views of the South China Sea, enjoy sumptuous buffet breakfasts, and choose from activities like yoga, bocce, jet ski rental, and for the young at heart – water bomb fights!


This exotic haven is surrounded by exquisitely landscaped gardens and has its own private beach. Be sure to book into to a pampering massage at Chi, The Spa and sip cocktails at Sunset Bar, the best place in Kota Kinabalu to catch the last rays of the day.


All images by Anika Reynolds

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Often overlooked, Kota Kinabalu is an idyllic honeymoon getaway not far from home; the crystal clear waters look so inviting!

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!