Island & Beaches
A gem, a sparkle within the deep blue sea, a beautiful emerald all alone kissed by the sun in the South China Sea, is the Layang Layang or “Swallows Reef”. An atoll 300km North West of Labuan, near the Spratly islands, it is manmade and constructed for the Malaysian Navy and later developed into a dive resort. The 90 rooms, 3star Layang Layang Island Resort is complete with amenities, conferencing and banqueting facilities. 13 coral reefs linked form a calm lagoon, making Layang Layang a magical marine kingdom bursting with a kaleidoscopic of marine life. It is a world class fishing and diving paradise, rated as a “Big Fish” and wall diving Mecca of Southeast Asia and one of the top ten dive locations in the world. The whole island is only 7.5 km long and 2 km wide. Big-eye trevally, green, hawksbill turtles are seen near the carol reefs and 20m deep lagoon is home to seahorses. Stingrays, manta rays are regular visitors with rare sightings of whale sharks. Dolphins frequently follow dive boats and divers are sometimes rewarded with snorkelling and diving with these intelligent creatures. The atoll is also a favoured nesting colony for several seafaring migratory birds. Hence this is not only a diver’s paradise but also a bird watcher’s haven. The island is accessible by one hour flight from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and sea packages from Labuan Island are available for the more adventurous to travel by sea
Kuraman island is a small tropical island belonging to Malaysia in the South China Sea located off the coast of Federal Territory of Labuan. It is sparsely populated and is popular with expatriates, divers and those who travel between Labuan and Brunei. Its land area measures 147 hectares. Together with the much smaller islands Pulau Rusukan Besar and Pulau Rusukan Kecil it forms the Labuan Marine Park. The old name of Pulau Kuraman is Mompraçem, the island that plays a role in the Sandokan book series. Kuraman island has two main beaches and is noted for its fishing, large sand spit and pleasant tropical island atmosphere. The interior is forested with a range of timbers and contains cleared paths for jungle walks. In recent years, large storms have contributed to increased erosion resulting in several areas of vegetation and numerous buildings being washed into the sea. In the surrounding waters off Kuraman there are several known shipwrecks including the Dutch Steamer SS De Klerk and a minesweeper, the USS Salute, both sunk during the Second World War. Kuraman, like the rest of North Borneo, was captured by the Japanese during this period and was liberated by the Australian Army in 1945, although no fighting ever occurred on the island. Two other major shipwrecks can be found in the area: the MV Tung Hwuang, a freighter that sank in the 1980s while transporting cement to Brunei for the Sultan’s new palace, and the MV Mabini Padre, a trawler from the Philippines which caught fire and sank in 1981. Kuraman has no roads or vehicles and it can only be reached by boat. There is a small private jetty and a new larger government pier which assist in providing access. A lighthouse, built by the British in 1897, is situated on the highest point of the island. Kuraman is populated by predominantly illegal immigrants from the Philippines, who claim to be a local Malay community, with a small village that includes a bar which serves food and is locally known for its fried chicken. Basic accommodation is also available, with small shacks available for rent. In 2004 a group of expatriates from Brunei contemplated building a bar/clubhouse for divers, however nothing resulted from this due to various legal complications. Apparently in a tongue-in-cheek manner, this same group then announced plans to develop the island and declare independence or greater self-government, stating a perceived dubious Malaysian claim to the island resulting from a conflicting historic Bruneian claim to Kuraman and its surrounding islands. This went as far as designing a flag for the island, similar to the many unofficial flags which have originated in varying areas around the globe. This was taken lightheartedly in both Labuan and Brunei and could be looked upon as a form of micronationalism
The island is 5 minutes boat ride away from Labuan and a popular weekend getaway for Brunei citizens and local residents. Activities here include jungle trekking, picnics, snorkelling, and other water sports activities. Blessed with blue waters and underwater treasures, it is well developed with beautiful land and seascapes with and old colonial lighthouse. The island has a mini agricultural park with an interesting collection of plant life from the region. There are chalets for rent but camping is more popular here.
The 242.9 hectare island is privately owned and guess what, it is currently up for sale. Daat Island has absolutely gorgeous views of the South China Sea and Labuan Island, as well as a patch of rainforest. Due to its private nature, it is not open to the public but hey, if you have a cool USD 51 million to spare, you may just want to consider getting this charming island all to yourself
This is one of the most developed beaches in Labuan. A beautiful landscaped park extends directly onto the long sandy beach. Located at the north shore of Labuan, Pancur Hitam beach is home to Labuan’s biggest and most luxurious private house – the “House of Millions of Peace”. The roads nearby this house, Jalan Batu Manikar and Jalan Pancur Hitam, are tastefully designed with well landscaped and decorated pathways. Just in front of the house, rows of local market stalls offer treats including fresh coconut water, chicken wings, popcorn and other mouth-watering local cuisines and knick-knacks. Right at the side of the house, there is a small natural path that will lead you to Bukit Pohon Batu (Pohon Batu Hill), the second highest peak in Labuan, where you can enjoy a jungle trekking jaunt. At the top of this hill, you will be greeted with beautiful beaches that stretch along the shore line. From this high vantage you can also have a bird’s eye view of the entire Labuan island. On clear days, you can see all the way to the south of Financial Park Complex, situated in the heart of Labuan town. Further south of Pancur Hitam beach, you will find a recreational area known as the “Sudut Cabaran” (Challenging Site), which offers an ideal site for various recreational activities including picnic and camping. Towards the evenings, a breathtaking vista awaits you with the three peaks of Phin Batu Hill as a dramatic backdrop. The sunsets here is not to be missed! You can also catch a glimpse of typical Malay village near the Chimney (one of Labuan’s famous landmark), Tanjung Kubong Tunnel Historical site, Labuan Bird Park and natural animal sanctuary – all the ingredients which makes Labuan one of the most fascinating tourist destination in Malaysia.
That is the one thing a visitor would not fail to notice about Labuan. You can view it all along Jalan Batu Manikar right up to where University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) is located. When the skies are clear (as it mostly is in sunny Labuan), the magnificent sun behaves as it had for centuries past. Its brilliant disappearing act into the horizon performance will begin just after 6pm. The famous Batu Manikar Beach-Layang Layangan is a great place to view such a sunset. It is a fabulously long stretch of beach fringed with casuarinas and coconut trees. A footpath circles most parts of the beach for the convenience of joggers and casual walkers, shaded naturally by the many trees. It’s a definite incentive for health buffs to exercise out there with the fresh air, breeze and fantastic view. Batu Manikar Beach – Layang Layangan won the COBSEA Clean Beach Award 2008. The prestigious award is well-deserved as every morning workers can be seen hard at work cleaning the beach from any rubbish and debris
Layang-Layangan is a popular place on weekends. Its sandy beaches invites one to lie down and soak up the sun with the waves lapping at one’s toes Layang-Layangan beach is a popular place on weekends. Its sandy white beaches is tempting, inviting one to lie down and soak up the sun with the sound of waves lapping at water’s edge. Cycling paths and picnic tables are shaded by leafy trees. In this area too can be found many food stalls with live musical bands performing every weekend. Horse riding and cycling are some of the popular leisure activities on this beach. The Peace Park is situated close by. The Manikar Beach Resort is also located around the same area
Pohon Batu Beach is another one of Labuan’s pristine beaches and lies on the same stretch as Pancur Hitam Beach andBatu Manikar Beach. One of the main features that stand out compared to other beaches on Labuan is that Pohon Batu Beach has rows of palm trees and casuarinas that dot its sandy coast. Visitors can take shelter from the sun under these trees. Visitors can also easily obtain food and refreshments from hawker stalls. There is also a special designated area for visitors to have barbeque picnic or set up camps. For visitors who are more adventurous can head out to Bukit Pohon Batu, a small hill located nearby the beach for a light trek. There, visitors can hike through lush greeneries before arriving at the summit where a panoramic view of the island awaits. In the evening, visitors will be treated with a romantic sunset over the unobstructed horizon of South China Sea. Pohon Batu Beach is a must-visit as it is well-known for its clear waters, well-established beach and the romantic, unobstructed view of sunset over South China Sea.