Finding a truly deserted beach to camp on these days is a pretty tough find. So, by the time we were sitting back in our camping hammocks, with a beer in hand staring into a by a roaring fire on Kudat Turtle Beach on the northern tip of Borneo, we were pretty smitten with our find.
We’d met Roland earlier that afternoon at the local store. Roland was a local from the nearby Gereja PCS Bavang Jamal village. Locating the village on our own was going to be difficult on account of no street signage in these parts. I’d discovered Roland after scouring the web for places to stay with a hammock in northern Borneo and seeing the newly created long house built for visitors. A few dirt tracks later we pulled into a small collection of wooden huts known as the Lupa Masa Homestay.
We got talking about camping opportunities so Roland led us down a single track from the village to the beach along a jungle covered river. On the route down to the beach, we covered off the main questions.
Us: Are their crocs?
Us: Are their mosquitos?
Roland: Not many.
Us: Can you swim in the water?
Us: Can you light a fire?
Us: Can you hang a hammock?
Roland: Of course!
All was looking positive.
Despite there being the off chance of bumping into a jellyfish (a harmless one you could see, and a harmful one which you couldn’t!) it seemed we had everything we needed for a few days playing Robinson Crusoe. And, if we got desperate Roland and his family would make breakfast and dinner if we wanted to join them back at the village at any point.
Getting setup came with more bonuses. A small beach shack sat back from the beach which was perfect for storing our bags out of the weather. It also provided some solid supports for hanging one end of our camping hammocks under the shade of the surrounding trees but still in sight of the water. The hammock came with a built-in mosquito net and separate fly sheet to protect us from both bugs and any downpours during the night. The white sandy beach stretched for a kilometre north and had small rolling waves to dive under. It also provided a peaceful white noise to enjoy an afternoon siesta.
A few improvised artefacts completed our camping ensemble. A buried dry bag full of ice was our fridge, a few old logs used as seats by the campfire and some excess para-cord provided a clothes line to dry our swimmers and towels. We were quite settled on our spot on the beach and had yet to see another living soul for two days.
The camping hammocks came into their own after dark. The warm temperatures meant only a thin sheet was required as a blanket and the netting gave protection from the odd mosquito. All that was left was a view above into the sky. With no nearby lights or cities the sky was jam packed full of twinkling stars.
The third day we had a change of night routine and accepted the invite of Roland’s family to join them for dinner. After a hearty meal we got talking about their village and life on Borneo. Despite the remote location, smartphones provided the main connection to the outside world. It was also interesting to hear their perspective from living on the world’s 3rd largest island shared by three countries and being controlled by a seemingly remote Malaysia.
After discovering what is likely our camping nirvana, the best bit about our trip to the northern tip of Borneo was witnessing the day to day village life and getting to better understand this unique island of Borneo, away from tourist draw cards of mountains, jungles and orangoutangs.
Looking to stay at Kudat Beach?
Details can be hard to obtain. The best bet is to visit their facebook page and try and contact Roland at the village to arrange everything.