Plenty of activities to enjoy at this ecological resort in Tuaran, Sabah

Borneo Kellybays is isolated but surrounded by nature, which is good for folks looking to get away from the city.


To get to the retreat, you need to get on the river boat service from the jetty at Kampung Laya-Laya. PHOTO: THE STAR

January 15, 2024

KUALA LUMPUR – My second trip to Sabah in 12 years was a delightful experience as I visited the Borneo Kellybays in Tuaran with my teacher S.R. Samuel and his family.

We spent five hours exploring this privately-owned eco-tourism attraction that’s nestled between a mangrove forest and the sea, located about an hour away from Kota Kinabalu.

Our first impression of Borneo Kellybays is that the place is isolated, and has natural surroundings, which is good for folks looking to get away from the city.

The jetty at Borneo Kellybays in Tuaran is also a restaurant.

Tourists are ferried to the retreat by boats, and along the way, they can even set traps to catch mangrove crabs. However, these crabs are only caught “for fun” and not for consumption, and they are released back into the water.

While there is no accommodation provided at the retreat, you can camp overnight with prior arrangement from the management, of course. For those who go there on a day-trip package, lunch is provided, and the spread usually consists of local fare; afternoon tea is also served with light snacks and tea or coffee.

Soft drinks and beer are sold separately.

The main attractions at the retreat are water sports activities like kayaking, surfing and banana boat riding, but there are also cultural experiences to enjoy like batik painting and how to use a blow pipe. You can try your hand at archery too, or just hit the snooker table for a game or two.

My family and I did the batik painting activity, among others, and enjoyed it.

The unspoilt and clean private beach is about 7km long facing the South China Sea. We went for a swim in the clear blue waters, and had fun watching small crabs running around the seashore.

All guests are required to use life jackets while swimming in the open sea, and must stay within the swimming area. There are lifeguards on duty all the time.

If you’re not keen on swimming, you could just relax on the beach – the retreat provides easy chairs and hammocks for all guests. You can enjoy the cool sea breeze and clear blue skies while reading a book or chatting with friends.

The private beach is clean and beautiful.

It is best to arrange for transportation with your hotel, or with a tour company if you’re planning a visit as getting a taxi from the retreat back to Tuaran town or to KK may be difficult. If you’re game for an adventure, then you can take a bus from KK to Tuaran, and then look for the mini bus service that goes to Kampung Laya-Laya from Tuaran town.

At the village, you have to walk about 20 minutes to the jetty, in order to board the boat for Borneo Kellybays. The boat service starts at 9.30am and the last boat from the retreat to the jetty is at 5pm.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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