Surfing in Sabah, Borneo

Surfing in Sabah, Borneo

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When people think of surfing in Asia, Indonesia usually comes to mind. But did you know that you could surf in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo? That’s right! Didn’t know that? We don’t blame you.

Up until 5 years ago, there wasn’t a single surfer in Sabah until a local guy named Ivan Nicolai, a passionate surf enthusiast got together a few friends to go out there to catch some waves. Here he is:-

That little group has grown to 20 strong and a little scene is now budgeoning to be something more.

Kudat: Near the Tip of Borneo

Ivan and company often invite friends from other corners of the globe including Japan, Brazil, Australia and the U.K. to enjoy the fabulously deserted beaches of Kudat at times of the year where surf’s up. According to Ivan, December to March is when the wind changes to the Northwest Monsoon. Swells start coming in more frequently in the Tuaran and further up north in Kudat, but size varies a lot from 2ft to 8ft.

The waves in Kudat can get up to a maximum of 9 ft high, which are still serious waves that are challenging and enjoyable by advanced surfers, but definitely not for beginners to try.

Saying that, you don’t get swells like that all-year-round, but at certain times of the year it can be roaring. We want to stress that Kudat is not for beginners, it is life-threatening if you don’t know what to do because there are no life guards around, and unless you’re very experienced you would be best sticking with Tanjung Aru for a while.

Think surfing is only for boys? Here’s a picture of a woman surfing in Kudat. Yippee, it looks so fun doesn’t it?

You don’t even need to use a long board or short board to enjoy the waves. Body boards and rafts can be fun too, as long as you play safely.

Check out the beautiful afternoon curly, courtesy of photographer Charles Mawan. In fact, all the beautiful photos featured here are taken by him. Go visit his Flickr album, it is FANTASTIC!

Tuaran: Nexus

Kudat isn’t the only place where you can enjoy surfing. Surfers could also hit Nexus in Tuaran, where it takes 45 mins to get to from Kota Kinabalu, as opposed to a 3-4 hours drive to Kudat.

Tanjung Aru: 3rd Beach

Can’t get away? Tanjung Aru during the Southwest monsoon season (July to November) has some whitewash that is perfect for a quick fix. It is also the perfect location for beginners to learn how to surf.

You don’t need to be a pro to enjoy surfing but remember to be safe, always. There are no lifeguards in Sabah’s beaches, so you always have to be smart and don’t try to be a hero. More experienced surfers will share with you on certain safety tips but ultimately you are in the water at your own risk.

Sabah Surfing Association

We’ll have you know that there is now such a thing as a Sabah Borneo Surf Club or Sabah Surfing Association about to be formed as we share this with you. On their Facebook page, you can find info about the Sabah surf community, planned surf trips, swell, weather information, and also connect with members who wish to buy or sell new or used surf accessories.

Surfing Lessons in KK to Begin Soon

Moreover, the SSA will be conducting surf lessons soon for those who are interested.

So you’re sold. You want to contact someone to get started with surfing lessons or to join them on their outings. First point of contact would be the Sabah Surfing Association Facebook Group, and ultimately Ivan is the guy you want to get in touch with (

Moreover, his blog has a wealth of photos and information about surfing in Sabah. Just remember to let Ivan know that you found him via KKMOI.COM. πŸ™‚

Soon, we’ll share with you where to stay and how to do it cheaply but if you’ll excuse us we hafta’ head back to the beach now!

Be safe and HANG LOOSE this weekend! πŸ™‚

Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. KKMOI.COM and its proprietor/s make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

25 thoughts on “Surfing in Sabah, Borneo”

  1. That’s right Rungitom. The waves are pretty wild out there, which is why we recommend beginners to try Tanjung Aru first and not try to be a hero before their time! πŸ™‚

  2. Want to know more about sabah neighbour?

    Can surf in BRUNEI as well @ tungku beach

    Can find our facebook page:

    Tungku beach surf brunei

  3. surfed rasa ria when 1-2m went out the back past the point caught last wave and surfed it around the sea boey which was anice feat to try , it was on my 9footer

  4. UIIHHHH SABAH CAN GO SURF ONE MEH?!!?!?!? sorry all caps, i’m too excited hahah. Never had chance to try surfing while I was at Australia. Now I have no excuses not to do this at my own homeland.

    Oh btw the last time I did bodysurfing, my nipple was scratched. Tiny skin gone but that’s ok. Problem is, the salt water makes it pain like hell. Pain 7 days tu..

  5. Now is your chance ahbing. You should totally try it out and blog about your experience! Many of your fans would love to see you splash some water..

  6. you can rent boards at the long house near Howards and Lorina,s restaurant right on the beach at the start of the tip of Borneo .Ask for Cd the local surfer , he also has rooms for rent ,again right on the beach front .PH 0172607371

  7. Surf to the Max surf school is now operating from The tip of Borneo. We provide The best learn to surf lessons in Sabah . We teach using the best safe learners surfboards and teaching methods that not only get you riding but gives you the fastest way to improve your surfing. We also have a wide range of rental boards from short boards to SUP ,s (stand up paddle boards ) the new craze in surfing.We also have beach front chalet for rent right on the beach where we give lessons . We also can help experienced surfers with tours of reefs nearby if the swell is up . W e teach the locals to surf for free and this helps with keeping people safe in the waters if they need help they may be lucky and get the locals to keep them from danger. contact us at the beach , at the Sunset Shack 90RM per night ph 0128 632 500 Ask for Emmi

  8. Boards for rent from 25 MR for 2 hrs , kids 15MR for 2 hrs , SUP for 50RM 2HRS . Lessons 120 for 2hrs , includes every thing you need , When the level 1 Surf coach is available . Local surf guide 75 MR for 2 hrs We have the best softboards for lessons which are made in Australia and are perfect and safe to get you riding and having fun . Boards for rent , 6ft ft short boards Mals and SUP,s SURF to the MAX surf school the only accredited surf school in Sabah at the Tip of Borneo .

  9. Dear,

    My name is Jonathan Verduyn. I’m a guy from Belgium and I’m 22 years old. I graduated as a bachelor physical education teacher and Physical Recreation.
    I love surfing, teaching and traveling. I’m in the possession of the SLSA lifeguard diploma and have a ISA level 1 surf instructor diploma.
    I have worked as a surf instructor in different places, in Belgium, France, Spain,Portugal and Morocco. Surfing is what I like and i enjoy to learn people how to surf. I want to come over to Indonesia. So I’m searching for a job as surfinstructor some where in Indonesia. I’m social, flexible, happy and hope full that I can work for your surfschool. I speak dutch and can expres myself in englisch and French.
    Are you looking for a surf instructor for the months February, march, april, maybe until octobre ? I’m perhaps what you’re looking for. Do not hesitate and feel free to contact me.
    I hope to see you soon…

    Have a nice day

    kind regards

    Jonathan Verduyn

    mobile: 0477600755

  10. Who should I find for surf lesson at tanjung aru? I’m local living near penampang and intrested in surfing. It’s a good sport to learn this new year!

    1. Coming to sutera harbour K.K this 23rd Oct 2015. Where is the nearest spot could i surf. Hopefully got waves this end Oct. Need advice. Thanks.

  11. im a beginners and just found out this page.haha but yeah I had fun exp last week in Nexus Tuaran. It was good to do my 1st surf there.

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