Sabah History

Borneo History | Things You Don’t Know about Kota Kinabalu – Sabah

A must-visit in Kundasang is the Kundasang War Memorial located in kundasang village in Sabah that lies along the bank of Kundasang Valley. Famous with stalls selling local fruits and vegetables at a wholesale.

The Distant of 6 kilometres away from Kinabalu National Park and the the Majestic Mount Kinabalu. Major G. S. Carter, (Toby Carter) who served in the Royal Australian Engineers initiated the building of the Memorial in year 1962, this was one of the first memorials to commemorate the 2,428 brave Australian and British Prisoners of War who died in Sandakan death march WWII. The memorial also serves as a tribute to the many local people who risked their lives while aiding the prisoners of war. Only 6 Australians survived in this horrific tragedy to tell their story and there were no English soldier survivors.

The Memorial is made up of four beautiful gardens – the Australian Garden, the English Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden and Pool, to represent the different nationalities. The scent of roses lingers in the air and the serene atmosphere makes the Kundasang War Memorial an ideal place to contemplate and remember the heroes of the war. Visitors can also opt to view a short brief video presentation on the history of the Sandakan Death March WWII.

ANZAC Memorial Services and private Memorial Services are welcomed with prior arrangements. The Memorial is open to visitors.


Click for Sipadan Diving Price !

Sipadan Island got it name from the word SIPARAN, which refer to a dead body of a person namely PARA (Si Paran) whom had been found restlessly on the beach of the island”

Sipadan Island is a tiny island is Malaysia’s only oceanic island, rising 700 metres from the ocean floor. The diversity of marine life here is apparent. There are many dive sites around the island which serve as home and transit points for a wide variety of marine life, including fish, turtles and sharks. It is no wonder that it continues to attract a growing number of underwater enthusiasts. Located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo, Sabah. Sipadan island formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop, for this Sipadan is one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.

Diving in Sipadan Island is for many, a once in a lifetime experience. Avid divers and snorkelers from all over the world are willing to spend precious time and money to immerse themselves in the waters off Sipadan Island.

With the remote location of the Sipadan Islands, the list of marine attractions here is quite impressive and fascinating as it gives every scuba diver a chance to come across bigger sized fish like a whole circulating large school of barracuda, containing so many fish in it that even the sunlight gets blocked out. Some divers claimed Sipadan it’s like a ‘Aquarium’….rare scuba diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan, schools of greenback turtles and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda & big-eye trevally in tornado like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks and more.

  • Also a mysterious Sipadan Turtle Tomb lies underneath the column of the island


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island. The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round.




The hammerhead sharks are a group of sharks in the family Sphyrnidae, named for the unusual and distinctive structure of these shark heads, which are flattened and laterally extended into a “hammer” shape called a “cephalofoil”.

Hammerheads are found in warmer waters along coastlines and continental shelves. Unlike most sharks, hammerheads usually swim in schools. This schools can be found in Sipadan Island location dive site at South Point.

The hammerhead sharks size range from 0.9 to 6 m (3.0 to 20 ft) long and weigh from 500 to 1000 pounds. Their bellies are white which allows them to be close to the bottom of the ocean as camouflage and blend in to sneak up on their prey.

Research that the hammer-like shape of the head may have evolved to enhance the creature’s vision. The positioning of the eyes give the shark good binocular vision, as well as 360-degree vision in the vertical plane, meaning these shark can see from above and below them at all times also help the shark find food.

Hammerheads have strangely small mouths and seem to do a lot of bottom-hunting. They are also known to form schools during the day, sometimes in groups of over 100.

Hammerheads are one of the few creatures that acquire a tan from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Tanning occurs when a hammerhead is in shallow waters or close to the surface for long periods.

Reproduction only happen once a year for hammerhead sharks and usually occurs with the male shark biting the female shark violently until she agrees to mate with him.

Hammerhead sharks are known to eat large fish, squid, octopus, crustaceans, and even other hammerhead sharks. Stingrays are a particular favorite. These sharks are common found along the bottom of the deep ocean and stalk their prey. Their unique shape of the head is used as a weapon when hunting down prey.


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island. The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round. 



Semporna Town

Semporna town (YouTube) is the gateway to Sipadan Island. There has been a growing interest in the dive sites in this region, including in the now-protected Tun Sakaran Marine Park which consists of eight islands and is the largest marine park in Sabah. All these dive sites have made Semporna more popular, and diversified the experience that one can gain while in Semporna. The name Semporna means place of rest and was given after the British quelled resistance from the local Bajaus in the mid-1880s, changing it from Tong Talun. Another story is that Semporna was called place to settle or meeting place. The majority of the population is Bajau, many of whom live in sprawling stilt villages over the water on the outskirts of town and is visited by tourists as a base for scuba diving or snorkeling trips to some of the country’s finest diving sites including the world knowned Sipadan Island and Mabul Island.

Semporna is also known for the Regatta Lepa traditional boat races which occur annually in April. Their unique Lepa Boat resembles the modern day’s catamaran vessels, with two adjoining legs for added stability when roughing the wild Celebes Sea.

Off the coast is a marine park called Tun Sakaran Marine Park also known as Semporna Islands Park. It was gazetted by Sabah Parks in 2004.

 Things you can find in SEMPORNA 

  • GIANT Hypermarket – Guardian Shop
  • Police Station  – Marine
  • WWF Office – Sabah Parks Office
  • Wet Market (Selling Fish, Vegetables.. etc)
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant
  • Bars – Pubs – Karaoke
  • Dives Shop – Private Clinics – Hospital
  • Hotel – Lodge – Backpackers – Water Village Resort
  • Proboscis Monkey River Cruise
  • Massage Shop – Seafood Restaurants –  Floating Seafoods Restaurant – Cyber Cafe
  • Long Distant Bus Terminal
  • Maybank Bank – BSN Bank – ATM Machine
  • Shell Gas Station
  • School – Post Office
  • Semporna Tourist Jetty
  • Church – Mosque

How to get to Semporna

  • You can either catch local coaches (BUS) from Kota Kinabalu or fly with Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines offers multiple flights daily to Tawau, where you’re just 1 hour (99km) drive away from Tawau Airport to Semporna
  • Buses leave daily for Semporna at 7.30am – 7.30pm from the Kota Kinabalu Bus Terminal (Inanam Terminal). It takes about 9 – 10 hours to reach Semporna by bus and cost approximately MYR 70.00 – MYR 85.00




Sipadan Package

Sipadan diving is famous for its population of both green turtles and the smaller hawksbill turtles.

Turtle Tomb is a special dive which every cave diver must see once in his life! Turtle Tomb is a cave system located after Turtle Cavern. There are several side tunnels and a small passage way near Barracuda Point.

Turtle tomb’s floor is about 8m wide and is covered with a thick layer of white sand and dust composed of numerous turtle skeletons.

The turtles couldn’t find their way out and died from asphyxia. This turtle tomb cave dive requires specialist equipment and an experienced local diver who knows the cave.

  • Depth: 17-23 metres
  • Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
  • Location: East of The Jetty


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island.The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round



The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae.

The hawksbill’s appearance is similar to other marine turtles. It has a generally flattened body shape, a protective carapace, and flipper-like arms, adapted for swimming in the open ocean. Hawksbill shells slightly change colors, depending on water temperature. While this turtle lives part of its life in the open ocean, it spends more time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs.

In Sipadan Island, turtle easy to be spotted and the main attraction is the Sipadan Turtle Tomb. There are several side tunnels and a small passage way near dive site Barracuda Point. The turtles couldn’t find their way out and died from asphyxia (deficient supply of oxygen to the body). This turtle tomb cave dive requires specialist equipment and an experienced local scuba diver who knows the turtle tomb cave in and out.

Threatened by human fishing practices caused hawksbill sea turtle populations with extinction. The World Conservation Union classifies the Hawksbill as crtically endangered. Sadly the hawksbill shells are the primary source of tortoise shell material, used for decorative purposes.

Adult hawksbill sea turtles have been known to grow up to 1 metre (3 ft) in length, weighing around 80 kilograms on average. The turtle’s shell, or carapace, has an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled brown colours radiating to the sides.

The hawksbill sea turtle has its own characteristics that distinguish it from other sea turtle species. Its elongated, tapered head ends in a beak-like mouth, and its beak is more sharply pronounced and hooked than others turtle. The hawksbill’s arms have two visible claws on each flipper.

Adult hawksbill sea turtles are primarily found in tropical coral reefs. They are usually spotted resting in caves and ledges in and around these reefs throughout the day. As a highly migratory species, they inhabit a wide range of habitats, from the open ocean to lagoons and even mangrove swamps.

Aside from sponges, hawksbills feed on algae and cnidarians comb jellies and other jellyfish and sea anemones. The hawksbill also eat dangerous jellyfish-like hydrozoan, the Portuguese Man o’ War (Physalia physalis). Uniquely hawksbill close their unprotected eyes when they feed on these cnidarians.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle are highly resilient and resistant to their prey.




In Sabah, Kimanis road to Beaufort road for destination Padas White Water Rafting with a strange gravity defying natural Phenomena witness by local and tourist.

Many local road user curious and heard about the natural phenomena, to the extend the local decided to try themselves and pulled over their vehicle on side of the Kimanis highway road to experience the strange gravity with a soda can, plastic bottle even to the extend switching off vehicle engine on the highway and the object simply move up hill

It is reported that at the gravity hill induced by optical illusion, there is a slope which appears as a downhill slope, but is actually an uphill slope the Kimanis highway road

Note: Click this youtube link to see this strange gravity




One of the most enduring landmarks in Kota Kinabalu, it stands prominently on a bluff along Signal Hill Road adjacent to the old Police Station. Built in 1903, this all wood, no nails structure was built in memory of Francis George Atkinson – the popular first District Officer of Jesselton during the British North Borneo Chartered Company Administration, He died of ‘Borneo fever’ in 1902 at the young age of 28.

This Clock Tower has the distinction of being the oldest standing structure in the whole of Sabah that one of three buildings survived the destruction of Jesselton town during World War II.

Built with public donations and of merbau timber. The tower has been repair several times by the city council. It was refurbished in 1959 to celebrate the city’s diamond jubilee. It is said that the original clock, a double-face clock that was a gift from him mother to Atkinson, was replace in 1964.

The clock was originally lit up at night acted as a beacon for shipping. Over the year it has undergone renovations and repair but has managed to retain most of its original characteristics. Till today, it still serves to keep the city’s time.

The Atkinson Clock Tower is managed by the Sabah Museum under its Antiquity and History section.


Getting There

  • You can stroll there or take any taxi. From the bottom of Signal Hill Road at Padang Merdeka, turn left to get to the clock site. Or view it from the city
  • Prominently located on the opposite of Jalan Gaya (Gaya Street)
  • Distance and duration : 0.5Km – 5 Minutes

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Borneo Climb & Dive Sdn. Bhd. specializes in nature based tours with packages. As a Mount Kinabalu Agency and Dive operator, we places a special focus on diving tours both the east and west coast of Sabah.

We offer both local and foreign tourists a wide range of things to do while in Sabah, (such a city tours, mount climbing & wildlife observation), to sea-based activities (diving and snorkeling).