15 best thrilling adventure activities in Sabah

When you visit the island nation of Sabah in the Malaysian archipelago, you are simply awestruck by the natural beauty that abounds this tiny paradise on earth. Besides, giving your eyes a feast, you can indulge in a number of daredevil activities before you return home to your normal daily lives. Check out these 15 adventurous activities if you wish to get a spike in your adrenaline level in Sabah.

  1. If you have a thing for heights, you have to check out the climbing trips for Mount Kinabalu. Kinabalu is the highest mountain in the Malay archipelago and it forms the highest peak of the Crocker Range. Climbing package trips are arranged for mountain trekkers and adventure lovers. Take a long trek to Laban Rata and halt for the night. At dawn, set off for the peak. When you reach the summit by sunrise, the beautiful view of the surrounding landscape will make the experience a truly memorable one.
  2. Take a dive into the clear and calm waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and enjoy the beauty of the underwater world. The Land Below the Wind is a PADI Dive centre that organizes a host of scuba diving trips and educational courses in these waters. The operators are extremely helpful and sworn professionals with whom you are bound to have a good time. It is the best choice for children and amateur scuba divers who wish to have a peek into this beautiful world.
  3. If you love mountain biking, Bike Borneo is a must-have for you in Sabah. Get on board cycling trips with Sabah-based experts and explore Borneo with a different viewpoint. It is the perfect chance to seek thrills for families and have the experience of a lifetime. Nice bikes, friendly guides, and good parcours make up the package provided by Bike Borneo cycling tours. You can cycle a 45 km stretch, ranging through trails, single tracks, hills, jungles, suspension bridges, and villages.
  4. When you travel to Eastern Sabah, you get great diving opportunities in Mabul/Sipadan Island off the coast of Semporna. Both of these places abound in jungles, wildlife and diverse marine fauna. You get to see several interesting sea dwellers like giant barracudas, mantas, turtles, and even sharks, along with several other species. These places are said to be on par with the famous Galapagos islands and serious divers will get goosebumps on their skin.
  5. Visit the Kinabatangan River (560 km) ending into the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan. The river safari trips can be quite appealing to amateur adventure lovers. You may get to see some of the world-renowned Bornean wildlife specimens, like macaques, proboscis monkeys, Bornean pygmy elephants, Orangutans, hornbills, snakes, crocodiles and many more. Ride down to the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, Gomantong Caves and halt at the Bilit Rainforest Lodge. The next day you can go for afternoon/night cruise for animal spotting, and on the next day visit the oxbow lakes for bird-watching.
  6. Another delight you can get on as a safari cruise is the Kilas River Proboscis Monkey Cruise. This primate is found only in Borneo and is one of the most amusingly bizarre creatures on the earth. Sail down the Kilas river at the southern part of Sabah and visit the wetlands where the monkeys play. This area is home to hundreds of these long-nosed monkeys (also called Dutch-man monkey) and hence sightings are totally guaranteed. Fireflies are also observed in the evening when the trip ends for the day. However, sightings are restricted to certain times of the month.
  7. The Mulu Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a major tourist attraction spot. The 4 caves of Mulu appeal to visitors from far and wide. You arrive at Mulu in the afternoon and after a short break proceed to the exploration of Deer & Lang Cave. It is an amazing experience, especially when hundreds of bats fly out of the caves at dusk. After spending the night at Royal Mulu Resort, take a boat ride to the Clear land & Wind Caves, where you complete your lunch.  You can also proceed to trek en route to Pinnacles and after resting for the night at Pinnacles, trek back to Mulu for onward flight to Kota Kinabalu.
  8. Get your adrenaline pumping an all-time high with white water rafting in the rivers of Borneo. The bumpy rides pose a stark difference from the calm underwater snorkeling trips you have had until now. Kiulu River( Grade 2 river) is most suitable for families, corporate groups, and amateur rafting enthusiasts; it is suitable for people with the most basic paddling skills. Crank it up a notch and there you have the Padas River (Grade 4 whitewater)where you can expect medium-sized waves, rapid drops, and rocks- a real adventure sports buff would prefer it after heavy rain. It would also mean superior rafting skills & techniques if you want to battle the Padas.
  9. Sabah is a real paradise for trekkers. Besides Mt. Kinabalu, you also get Mount Tatan in the state of Pahaang. Gunung Tahan is the highest peak of West Malaysia (7175 ft/ 2187 m) located in the Taman Nagara forest. Hike through the forest, mountain terrains and along the long-flowing rivers, catching glimpses of the natural beauty until you reach the summit. The climb takes 4- 7 days depending on the fitness of the trekkers and is no mean feat. It is one of the most exhaustive and daring journeys in all of Malaysia and have often takes several days to be completed.
  10. Zip lining is nothing new and maybe you have tried it often before in many European countries. But Sabah provides you with the only chance to go wheezing through the wind over 250 metres (820 feet) of the sea between 2 islands. The Gaya and Sapi islands are connected by a Coral Flyer Zipline that passes overhead 5 islands situated within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. This zip line service is the longest in Borneo and has held the record of maintaining the furthest distance between 2 islands in the world.
  11. Adventure sports lovers should go for about of tandem paragliding in Ranau, without fail. Ranau is a town situated 108 km east of Kota Kinabalu. You can glide from the town to the Lohan (Ranau’s highest point) and enjoy the scenic beauty of mountains, green paddy fields, and picturesque villages moving behind you. A short flight will cost you somewhere between 20 - 50$. If you don’t care for the price, this episode will be worth both your time and money.
  12. The Danum Valley Rainforest region is one of the most important ecosystems in the world and is a great attraction for hikers. Travel 97 km from Lahad Datu to reach Danum Valley Conservation Area. Rest for the night at the Rainforest lodge and proceed to the introductory trail on the next day. Cross the canopy bridge and on the next day trek to View Point  at the Coffin Cliff. In the evening, check out the night safari where you may spot a variety of wildlife like orangutans, gibbons, leaf monkeys, wild boars, elephants, deer and perhaps the rare Sumatran Rhino.
  13. STAR Marina Watersports (owned & operated by Kota Kinabalu’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa) offers professional watersport devices and boating plus cruise facilities. It has a learning centre for wannabe divers. The STAR Marina also provides day-long trips to nearby islands and beach activities- a corporate association providing family vacation amenities.
  14. Go and scale the Bukit Tengkorak, also known as the Hill of Skulls. Intimidating as the name may sound, there are no actual skulls present anywhere near this site. It is an archaic volcano rim and claimed to be the largest pottery-making area in the Southeast Asian region during the Neolithic period (roughly 3000 years ago). The road to the top of this dead volcano is not suitable for the elderly but hikers will have a field day with this trip. Photographers and amateur historians would love this place. The peak of Bukit Tengkorak provides a magnificent view of the surrounding Semporna district as well as the ocean.
  15. Hop on board the North Borneo railway Train and experience the nostalgia of the 1900’s. This is a steam train that travels through Kinarut and ends at Papar town. Enjoy the beauty of lush fields and the countryside through the window and soothe your eyes. Strictly speaking it is no adventurous sport but it has to be done at least once, for the sake of the awesome ride itself if you visit Sabah.

Now that you know all there is about having thrills and chills in Sabah, it is advisable that you spent little time in planning and more in packing, and visit this Malaysian state as soon as possible. So all that remains to be said to you all the potential travelers is….Bon Voyage!