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Reviewed 5 February 2017 via mobile

This resort is now operating as Dinawan Island Resort. You need to contact Marudu Express Travel in Kota Kinabalu to book.

Dinawan is a gorgeous, tiny island just off the coast of KK (about 40 mins road plus 10 mins speedboat transfer from the city centre). Little Dinawan is connected by a sand spit and shallow lagoon to another slightly bigger island. Both islands are forested can be explored by foot. One side is rocky, the other is sandy beach. Lots of marine/coastal critters and bird life. The resort is on the tiny island. Rustic wooden chalets are dotted right around the island. The ones nearest the restaurant face the lagoon, then it's a steep climb to a series of cliff-top ones with direct views out to sea, then down again to a set of sea-side ones. They are basic but comfortable, with good-sized balconies with views, large beds and desks. Some have A/C, but with the sea breeze you don't really need it. Power is generally only available at night. Showers are cold-water only. Cleanliness was only average.

Snorkelling trips (beach and boat) are organised twice a day or you can go out on our own at any time. We found the beach snorkelling very murky (early February). Kayaks are available for free use. Resort staff clean the beach nearest the restaurant each day, but elsewhere there is quite a bit of plastic rubbish, seaweed and coral debris on the beach - don't expect long stretches of clean, white sand. The water off the beaches is mostly shallow and warm. Beautiful views of sunset over the lagoon and ocean and sunrise over Mt Kinabalu.

Ample food is available four times a day, though the menu gets monotonous over the course of a few days. The food style is mostly Chinese-Malay. Tea and coffee are available all day. Staff were very friendly and eager to please.

There seems to be a lot of unrealised potential at this place. It could be a brilliant low-key resort, but it seems that the cabins have a very low occupancy rate and several buildings have fallen out of use. There's an unfinished appearance to much of the resort, and we had trouble finding information about the place on the web. Large groups of Chinese tourists came in for day trips every afternoon (we were there during the Chinese New Year holidays, probably at other times of year this wouldn't be such a regular occurrence), but after they'd left it was very quiet. We were the only westerners there and received royalty treatment, which we were a bit puzzled by! I'd be interested to return in a few years to see what happens to this place.

Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
2  Thank klwtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 July 2016 via mobile

Spent the day here.....managed by sunborneo tours.....very pro outfit....highly recommended day trip if you are in kotakinabulu. ....we did lunch... dinner ....punctuated with snorkeling trips out to the various coral reefs....seafood bbq feast for dinner...soent time lying on beach...boys went kayaking. ...much better than many of the other islands close to Kinabalu. ...do it

Stayed: July 2016, travelled with friends
1  Thank Hugh C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 August 2015 via mobile

It was a wonderful holiday experience for my family of 7, oldest being my mom at 90 yrs and youngest, my nephew of 17 yrs old. The island is idyllic and tranquil with a quiet yet most enchanting beauty, always full of delightful surprises from nature. The boat ride from the river jetty to the island was most scenic. On arrival we were welcomed not only by the friendly resort staff but two really friendly dogs who kept us safe throughout our stay as our watch guards! There was a beautiful hornbill that flew by on the trees on arrival, seemingly welcoming us too. The food was authentically local. We canoed and walked around the island. I went snorkeling for hours as there was so much to explore especially at dusk, all the critters started to be really active. The juvenile leather jackets and school of little banded catfish were my most delightful sightings. The millions of small fish at the jetty was quite a sight from above the water and even more amazing while snorkeling. Had two dives there and it was most exciting as the dive sites are pristine and never been explored before. Corals and vegetation are healthy and I sighted a few exotic nudibranhs. The whole family went for a fun boat fishing trip one afternoon, catching many fish within a short time. The sunrise and sunsets in this island were most awesome! I can't help but constantly sing joyful praises to my creator.

Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
3  Thank Jesseshumeiyap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 July 2014

Thank you RimaVilnius for inclusive review!

Dinawan must be one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and I have traveled quite a bit. The laguun, beaches and waves pouring in are like a paradise dream. Unfortunately they have still some work to do with trash on beaches, but it wasn't bad though. We visited Dinawan in July and were the only customers.

Room was clean and spacious. I liked the feeling, it's kinda cozy with a rough edge. You won't need a marble ball to tell that floor is not level though ;) No aircon, but it didn't bother. Bed was comfortable and wide. Blankets could be better, but it didn't bother that much. Toilet was western type and clean. There was no hot water, but it didn't bother us either. As RimaVilnius said, view from lagoon chalet is just amazing.

Food was quite basic, but good. They made so many kinds that there's something for everyone. And the amount of food was ridiculous! We couldn't even eat one thirds of what they made for us.

Service was polite, and they offered us everything we asked for. Unfortunately they speak very poor English so you cannot have conversations with them.

Snorkeling was really good too…snorkeling and relaxing were the reasons we came for. We saw wide variety of colorful coral and it was healthy and growing. Actually it was hard to see much dead coral. We saw many nemos and really big ones too, but unfortunately we didn't see as much other fishes as we hoped. I have been snorkeling in Sangalaki, Tioman and many places in Thailand and they have been better places to spot fishes, but on Dinawan the coral was really good. We visited Dinawan during southwest monsoon so the water was not crystal clear, but ok for snorkeling though. The best places are not near the beach, but they take you few hundred meters away from the beach with boat and wait until you have seen each coral in the sea…and it's all free!

The island is close to KK, but still it is very quiet and feels really remote. From KK downtown it takes about 25 minutes to reach Kinarut where the boat leaves. Boat ride takes about 15 minutes. And there it lies…the perfect getaway destination for those who are not looking for luxury resort, but rather natural peace.

Despite a few very small downsides this place is just wonderful. As a whole our two night trip to Dinawan was unforgettable and just what we were looking for…relaxation and beauty above and under water.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Hannu-Pekka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 April 2014

I'm very glad that we chose Sunborneo Dinawan Island Resort for our Borneo beach holidays.
We stayed there for 3 nights and it was not enough.
Despite the island is tiny, we constantly had something to do. Even have no time for sunbathing.
Key words about Pulau Dinawan and Sunborneo Island Resort are: natural, nature, private and beautiful.

If you are accustomed to a holidays by the pool, are dreaming about massage or luxury of a 5 star hotel, can not survive without the night life, shopping, TV, Internet and crowds of people or want to demonstrate your evening dresses, Dinawan Island Resort most probably is not for you.
But if you are dreaming to spend at least a few days close to the 5 star nature on a quite isolated and beautiful island, I highly recommend you Sunborneo Island Resort.

Before moving to the Dinawan island we spent one night at Langkah Syabas Resort and we were very disappointed with the littered beaches and murky sea (would not recommend to anyone).
Our vacation in paradise started, when we were greeted by a smiling Sunborneo driver and nice girls at the reception.
We fell in love with the Pulau Dinawan at the very moment when we got out of the boat.
Clear waters, light breeze, blue lagoon, white sands, real undisturbed nature and very friendly staff.
Some works in the Resort were still in progress, but we didn‘t feel it.

Chalets are quite basic, but exterior, interior and facilities are in tune to the natural environment and predisposes relaxing. Rooms are quite spacious, clean, with wide and comfortable beds. And the view from the balcony is simply stunning. We stayed at lagoon chalets and I think this is the best option, because in order to get to the other chalets you need to climb some steep stairs and the lagoon chalets are closest to the beach.
We were very afraid that it will be too hot in the rooms without AC, but we didn‘t need even the overhead fan during the day because of the wind blowing through the open balcony door. The lowest mode of fan was enough during the night and it was almost inaudible.
And we did not miss the hot shower.

- Swimming . Water is incredibly warm and clean. Part of the beaches is rocky, in some places the coastline and sea bottom is dotted by pieces of dead corals, so swimming shoes might be quite useful (I just tied my rubber slippers), but there are places where you don’t need shoes.
- Canoeing. You can go around the island (the eastern side looks very safe) or go to another small island nearby. Someone from the staff will always accompany you.
- Snorkeling. That was our main activity, because the underwater world (corals and fishes) is really very nice and all that beauty starts just few meters from the beach, but the most beautiful places are where the sea suddenly goes deeper (also not far away from the coastline). Ask the staff for the best places because is not really the same everywhere. And remember that you can easily get sunburned during snorkeling, so shirts with long sleeves, long pants and a bandana on the head is necessary. Sunblock was not enough. And take waterproof camera with you.
- Sunset. Every evening we were mesmerized by a stunning view. You can watch sunset from the hillside villas or on the lagoon. Incredible.
- Other activities. Staff offers other activities as well (see on a website), but we didn’t try them.

Meal four times day! Food quite simple but very tasty. After the first fancy and rich lunch we started to worry about our weight , but later amount of food slightly decreased, and we were very happy about it. Water, coffee (unfortunately not a real thing) , tea is unlimited during the day.

I do not know if we were so lucky , or all people around Borneo are so friendly and helpful. All three days on Dinawan we felt surrounded by unobtrusive attention and friendly smiles.

By the way on Dinawan is not as hot as on the main island. I think because of the light sea breeze.

- Plastic on the beach . Sunborneo part of island is clean and quite well maintained, but on the other part of the island nobody takes care of the garbage.
- Sand flies: a lot of them. Awfully itchy bites. We knew that most of the Borneo beaches have this problem, but we were not properly prepared. Repellents do not really help. It is necessary to have some good protection and after bite remedy.

Despite those small inconveniences, we were lucky to have had the opportunity to spend 3 incredible days on Dinawan. During 3 days we have island just for 4 of us. No tourist crowds, no fuss , no worries and pure beauty all around.
I want to thank all the people who have done everything to make our vacations perfect.

Room Tip: Lagoon view looks the best option. Nearest to the beach, nice view.
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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9  Thank RimaVilnius
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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