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Borneo is the world's third biggest island and comprises three different countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. The challenge is seeing it all—a word from the wise: Don't even try. For your foray into Borneo, stick with a couple of weeks in Sabah, the rugged northern state of the Malaysian part, which will give you the perfect introduction to this island.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Your first stop on an adventure through Borneo is the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort outside of Kota Kinabalu, where the offerings are many.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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The Shangri-La resort boasts two sections: The newer Ocean Wing is quiet and well-suited for couples, while the Garden Wing is family-friendly with its water-playground facilities.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Both wings of the sprawling resort—which also encompasses a fitness facility, two pools, a nature reserve, a beauty salon, a shop, and a number of restaurants—have their own pool, as well as easy access to the private beach beyond the accommodations.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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The Shangri-La Rasa Ria sits on a nature reserve and is surrounded by jungle terrain. Rehabilitated orangutans live among the foliage and are more than happy to swing by to entertain visitors. Nature walks and feeding viewings are offered daily through the resort.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Orangutans are native to Borneo, one of the only places on the planet you can still see them in the wild. For more quality primate time, head out to Sepilok—home to the largest orangutan sanctuary covering more than 16 square miles—on Borneo's north coast.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Other wildlife flourishes such as pygmy elephants, long-tailed and proboscis monkeys, and bearded pigs like the one pictured above.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Take an afternoon to ferry around Gaya Island, the biggest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park—right off the coast of Kota Kinabalu—and absorb the local culture by viewing the floating villages from atop the water.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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After you've seen all there is to see on Sabah's west coast, fly into Tawau on the east coast to explore la crème de la crème in marine life. Your first stop: Mataking Island. A ferry from Semporna Jetty will transport you to pure paradise.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Mataking Island's sole resort is all-inclusive, with 37 well-equipped rooms and villas that sit on the beach and water's edge.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Mataking is known for more its macro life than big-ticket items, but look closely and you'll see all manner of marine life, like clownfish, ghost fish, nudibranchs, shrimp, lobsters, and even an octopus hiding here and there.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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The underwater world surrounding Mataking is also awash in tropical species such as the shy lionfish (pictured above) and, on occasion, the extremely elusive cuttlefish.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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A few years back, the government purposely sank the 52-foot MV Sipadan Mermaid to create Sabah's second artificial reef. Today, it's a prosperous dive site.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Whether you dive, snorkel, or merely take a dip in the water, there's a good chance you'll spot a leatherback turtle or two, as they inhabit this area by the numbers. Join a night hike around the island, where you might even see a mama laying eggs on the beach.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Mataking has a turtle hatchery; if you get lucky, you could have the opportunity to witness a batch of eggs hatch and help release the newborn turtles into the ocean.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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If you prefer as little activity and as much relaxation as humanly possible, that's OK, too. Mataking also delivers on that front, with lounge chairs situated on the beach outside your chalet.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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After your time on Mataking Island, consider a few days on nearby Mabul Island, about an hour and a half away by ferry. It's one of the closest islands to the famous and uninhabited Sipadan, where you'll want to spend the day if you're a diver or snorkeler.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Mabul offers the option of staying on the island itself, or else residing in an over-the-water bungalow a five-minute walk from the on-land resort.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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The water bungalows are Bajau design and surrounded by lush foliage. During low tide, guests can walk out into the sandbar among the villas from the dock. When the tide is high, you can snorkel among the bungalows and see a myriad of shallow-water creatures like spotted rays, sea snakes, and starfish.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Permits to Sipadan are in demand, due to the occupancy maximum of just 120 divers a day and the number of people who want to visit the highly acclaimed island. However, Mabul runs daily trips out, so if you stay a few days, you have a very good chance of getting on a boat to dive or snorkel Sipadan. If you can make it here, it's worth the effort. Schools of fish, such as bumpheads and barracuda, swarm the area by the hundreds.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Docile sharks like the white-tips are also regular inhabitants of the area.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
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Your time in Borneo is drawing nigh, and you saw only a small glimpse of what the vast island has to offer—all the more reason for you to come back sooner rather than later.  
Credit: Kristin Luna 
 
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