Finding Zen at the Tip of Borneo

First thing I asked a girl when I arrived, “Are you relaxed?” Her response, “Yes, I am so relaxed. This place is amazing.”

It was quiet, and I could hear the ocean. Yes, I thought, this place is perfect.

I had just come from climbing Mount Kinabalu and was looking for a quiet place, by a beach, away from the tourist crowd, where I could just relax and spend my days swimming in the ocean. How often do you really get to feel like you are away from it all? Tourism is everywhere and home is so busy. To find a place where you feel that you truly are away from it all is very rare. But I found this at the Tip of Borneo.

My villa is the one in the middle. Coconut palms all around.

My villa is the one in the middle – coconut palms all around.

The very first day I woke up to the sounds of waves crashing and birds singing. I looked around my room from my king sized bed, and felt very happy to finally have a day with nothing to do. No mountains to climb, or groups to lead. I let out a sigh of relief, and snuggled back into my white sheets and slept for another couple of hours. When I woke up, I opened my curtains to the most beautiful view. My jaw literally dropped open. I could see the ocean and the whitest sand I had ever laid eyes on. I heard birds, I heard waves, and the sun was shinning.

I spent my days waking up much like this. I’d do yoga on my veranda, then I’d grab my book and sarong, go have a little breakfast at the bottom of the hill – have a coffee, listen to the small hum of about 5 other travellers having their breakie too, and that would be the nosiest part of my day.

My veranda.

My veranda.

Then I’d walk all the way down a driftwood doted white sandy beach, seeing no one, to my spot – just beside a cliff, underneath a tree, and about 5 feet away from the water. Reading, napping, sitting, and contemplating life. I felt so lucky to be the only person on a beautiful white sandy beach, and to have the only sounds be the sounds of the sea, the birds and the rustle of the trees.

Tip of Borneo.

Tip of Borneo.

Sometimes I would walk along the beach and see some crustaceans walking along too. Of course they would duck and hide in their shells whenever I got too close. But I loved watching them. I’d wait for them to come out, then I’d watch them and ask them about their big plans for the day. It’s a tough go for a crustacean isn’t it? I mean they are just so little, and it is such a big big world. *Too much time alone is a dangerous thing.



My favourite hilarious part of my days was any time I would walk along the beach close to the water. When I say no one was at the beach, literally no one was at the beach. The beach was all mine, or I should say, it was actually the crabs’ beach – with no tourists around, they were free to busy themselves doing crab stuff. So, every time I walked the shoreline the little crabs would feel my vibrations, see this humongous beast coming towards them, and for a moment be paralyzed in fear, before frantically throwing up their little crab arms, eyes wide with fear and dashing into a mad state of zig zaging all over the sand and crashing into each other, trying desperately to find a hole to hide from approaching Godzilla. The less fortunate crabs who were unable to find holes, would hurl themselves into the ocean, hoping for the best – poor bastards. This had me in hysterics every time. If it’s possible, the crabs are even funnier at night. They were funnier because all you could see was their little shadows. All of a sudden a tiny shadow would appear in the sand, frozen for a second, then burst into the all too familiar pattern of zig zagging, and hurling themselves into the ocean.

I never wanted to leave. Life should be so simple. Enjoying the brilliance of nature, hearing the wind and the waves and feeling very little in the world (except when compared to crustaceans of course). We have so much noise in our cities and in our lives every day. Always questions – What are you up to? How is so and so? What are your plans after you finish this job? Why do you buy so much arugula? Questions and conversation, are without a doubt critical social building blocks, but it is also just noise. To feel human I think is to be able to reconnect with the earth, with the simple nature of the universe. I believe that in today’s age it is particularly important, when everything is so busy, all the time. When is the last time you stopped and watched a crustacean struggle down a beach for half an hour with absolutely nothing else on your mind? Or watched a sunset without checking your phone? Or enjoyed a moment in peace, just because your spirit was happy.

I believe that my time on the Tip of Borneo was well spent. And I hope to be so lucky to have more time like this soon. I feel recharged, reconnected and full of peace.

Zen found.

Zen found.

7 thoughts on “Finding Zen at the Tip of Borneo

    • Yes, just north of Kudat. You take a share taxi to Kudat and then you take a taxi (or get your hotel to pick you up) from Kudat. Share taxis are with locals and they are super cheap, when coming from Kota Kinabalu, 25 ringgit (takes about 4 hours). So it’s a bit tricky to get to, but totally worth it. Tommy’s Place at the Tip of Borneo is where I stayed, and I highly recommend it:

      Thanks Paul! (and it IS paradise)

  1. Man , Thanks for the flow of thoughts at the beach , that literally locked me in for my next weekend trip to the tip , and that’s where i’m gonna bunk for the weekend, thanks yeah . cheers

    • Hey thanks! I’m so happy to help. I am sorry it took so long to respond! I have been having trouble writing recently. Hope you have a wonderful trip being the only feet on the beech 🙂

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