Lost Ratings: **** Remote, deserted beach and fantastic scenery all to yourself
For millions of years, this cliff jutting out into the waters shared by two seas remained largely unknown except to the locals in Kudat and the intrepid few who have somehow made their way here. But their secret meeting place was secret no more when in the 21st century, Sabah realized the benefits of tourism and started searching for new tourism products to promote. Their search led them to this stunning piece of land at the northernmost point in Borneo island, the third largest island in the world. They called it “The Tip of Borneo”, built a road (sort of) leading to the place, and erected a globe and a flag pole and (most importantly) toilets, and Sabah has a new tourist attraction.
The truth is, there is not much to do except to look at the fantastic scenery and listen to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks below. And it is a long way to drive just to take a few photos and then go back. But if you combine your trip with a visit to the longhouses in Kudat, then this could be a worthwhile day trip. For those who are looking for a quiet place to contemplate or relax though, you would not find a better place than the Tip of Borneo. The beach located next to the road leading to the tip is practically deserted.
The Tip of Borneo has an actual name as well. It is called Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. “Tanjung” means cape or promontory, and “Simpang Mengayau” was corrupted from the words Sampang Mangazo. It is a Bajau word meaning “the junction where a battle took place”. Legend has it that pirates used to roam the waters between Borneo and the Philippines, and here where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea, was particularly infested with pirates. Ships that ply this route were robbed and their treasures hidden in a few off-shore islands. It was not just the pirates that the traders had to contend with. Storms can appear out of nowhere and wreck havoc on the ships. The unlucky ones were shipwrecked, and their goods were washed ashore, and slowly hidden by the sand over time. These islands (Pulau Banggi and Pulau Balambangan) are visible on a clear day. Standing at the very edge, with the howling wind whistling in your ears, and the sight of sand stones carved by the waves into irregular shapes, you can just imagine the battles taking place before your very eyes.
These days, the place is much more quiet. The pirates are gone, and only a few villagers remain. You can see their house as you drive up to the promontory. Their income is now supplemented by the sea shells that they sell to the few tourists who make their way here. A giant globe at the top points out where you are in Borneo. At the edge of the cliff, a sign warns tourists not to climb down to the piece of rock jutting out into sea. But the temptation of standing at the very edge of Borneo is too much, and many people still do as they are not supposed to.
As I mentioned earlier, there is not much else to do except to look at the beautiful scenery. And beautiful it is, especially on a fine day. Like a beautiful painting, the various colours blend together to create a masterpiece. The blue of the sky contrasts nicely with the darker blue of the deeper part of the sea, and the lighter blue of the shallower waters. The grass and the trees provide two shades of green. Come in the evening or early in the morning, and you get the red and orange of the sun as well.
What makes this place extra special is that it is not crowded with hordes of tourists. Its distance, is perhaps too far for many people. But that is a blessing in disguise. With not many other people around, there is nothing more enjoyable than sipping a glass of wine while enjoying the quietness and the wind. (You will have to bring your own wine). If you have the time, an overnight stay is recommended as a day-trip would not leave you much time and you would have to go back immediatey after a long drive here. Kalampunian Beach, located just before the cliff, is where you can go for a swim and suntan on the beach.
Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is located about 200km (3 to 3.5 hours) from Kota Kinabalu. Drive north towards Kudat. It is about 30 minutes from the signboard to Bavanggazo to the junction to the Tip of Borneo. From the junction it is another 15 km and 20 minutes by car. The road from the junction is only partly paved and about 10 minutes drive will be on unpaved road. You will pass by many coconut trees and not many people, but just follow the signboards and you won’t get lost. Fron Kudat town, it is 15 minutes to the junction to Simpang Mengayau.
Getting here is not possible without your own transportation. Either rent a car or join a tour. Most tours include visits to Gombizau bee farm, Sumangkap gong-making factory, and the Bavanggazo or Maranjak longhouse along the way.
For overnight stays, accommodation is available in Kudat and there is also one chalet-type accommodation located at the tip itself.
For more photos and information:
KudatLonghouse and Tip of Borneo day tours and overnight tours are available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries