If you’re the kind of couple looking for a honeymoon adventure, set against lush rainforests, shipwreck dive sites and magnificent mountains, then Borneo beckons you.

For some, a romantic vacation should be about more than relaxation – it should be an adventure. Specifically the kind that involve treks through mysterious jungles, hikes up magnificent mountains and close encounters with exotic animals. If that describes you and your loved one, then Borneo might just be the best place to celebrate your brand of romance.

Borneo is a huge island, the third largest in the world in fact, and it is divided between three countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. While there are many excellent destinations around the island, we recommend that honeymooners focus on the Malaysian side, specifically the capital of the state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. Thanks to the international airport, it is easy to access, and it can serve as a gateway to many of Borneo’s greatest treasures, including the vast, jungle expanses of Kinabalu National Park and the soaring majesty of Mount Kinabalu. Plus KK, as Kota Kinabalu is often referred to, offers a number of luxurious resorts well-suited for a honeymoon stay.

Kota Kinabalu is a small but booming city of around 900,000 people. It is a growing hub for transportation, manufacturing and, of course, tourism, but it still maintains many of the charms of its colonial outpost roots. To get a good overview of the city, head to the Signal Hill Observatory, close to the city centre, where you can get oriented and take in a picturesque view of the harbour. From here you can also take a ten minute stroll over to the Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest structure in town, built in 1902, back when KK was called Jesselton. You can then head over to the city’s Chinatown district, known to most locals simply as Gaya Street, to enjoy some of the city’s favorite local eateries and shopping.

But of course you didn’t come to Borneo for urban trekking. You can start your adventuring by exploring the waters around KK. You can take a day trip to Usukan Bay, which is located near Pulau Mantanani and the fishing port of Kota Belud. You’ll need to take a 2 hour boat ride from Sutera Harbour Marina to get there. What makes this area so exciting for divers is that, on top of the amazing marine ecology is that there are several shipwrecks dotting the seafloor. You’ll need to have advanced diver certifications to tackle these locations.

You’ll also definitely want to check out the islands that make up Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. This collection of five islands are located just a quick 10-20 minute speedboat ride from KK and they provide tons of amazing opportunities for snorkeling and diving over coral reefs, lazing about on white sand beaches and getting up close with exotic animals. It also encompasses a marine park that features the famous shipwreck of The Gaya, though to be a sunken Japanese ship.

When most people think of Borneo though, it is not islands they imagine but lush and ancient jungles. For exactly that, plus an almost endless array of natural wonder, you’ll want to head to Kinabalu National Park, From KK it’s an easy one to two hour journey to the park, making it more than possible to do a day trip from the city while still taking in a lot of its sights. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its amazing biological diversity, the sprawling 75,000 hectare park is larger than the whole of Singapore. Among the park’s most impressive inhabitants are some 1,000 orchid species, 326 bird species and 650 butterfly species. It also contains much more than forest, encompassing four distinct climate zones, each with their own unique flora and fauna. If you want to do more than a daytrip, accommodations in the form of chalets can be found in the park, mostly around the headquarters. Reservations for accommodation can be done through Sutera Sanctuary Lodges ( .

Of course the most famous feature of the park is the majestic Mount Kinabalu. Although it stands at over 4,000 metres above sea level, it is known for being one of the most accessible mountains in the world. You don’t need specialised mountaineering skills or equipment to make the climb, although all who attempt the climb are required to be accompanied by a qualified guide. Plus one needs to be fairly fit to make it to the peak, especially with the thin air of the higher levels. Although its possible for world-class climbers to make it to the top and back in under four hours, normal human beings will want to take two days, with an overnight break at Laban Rata, a lodge that provides accommodations and food about 3,270 metres up the mountain, before proceeding out in the early early morning in order to reach the peak at sunset and witness one of the most spectacular views in all of Asia. Because you must book the overnight accommodations and because the mountain has become so popular, you’ll need to book well ahead of time in order to be sure you’ll be able to make the climb.

One of Kota Kinabalu’s most luxurious resorts is the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort (; Pantai Dalit  Tuaran; +60 88-792 888) in Pantai Dalit Beach. Set amidst a nature reserve and surrounded by some 400 acres of tropical forest, the resort combines the best of sophisticated living with natural beauty. Perched on a hill, the Malaysian-themed rooms feature spectacular beachfront and forest views. The resort is composed of two sections – the Garden Wing, which consists of 326 rooms, each with their own private balcony, and the new Ocean Wing, which features 90 opulently appointed rooms including the Premier Rooms, which feature private outdoor bathtubs big enough for two on their private terraces. There is a seemingly endless array of things to do at the Rasa Ria, everything from horse riding to ATV safaris to deep sea fishing. There is also a packed schedule of daily activities including bike rides to nearby villages, cooking demonstrations and even volleyball matches against the resort staff. Of special note is the resort’s Orangutan Education Centre, where you can get up close and personal with Borneo’s most popular primates. The resort is also home to an eco-friendly championship golf course, as well as the spectacular CHI Spa. Until the end of the year, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria is offering a “Romance Breeze” package to specifically cater to honeymooners. The package includes daily buffet breakfasts, a private dinner at the intimate Coast Gazebo, return airport transfers via Mercedes-Benz, and a “Romance Journey” spa treatment for two that includes a chamomile body scrub, rose petal bath and full body massage. The Romance Breeze package starts at RM 3,630 for 3 nights.

Another popular KK 5-star is the magnificent Magellan Sutera Resort (; Sutera Harbour Resort; +60 88-318 888). Part of the 384-acre Sutera Harbour Resort complex, which also includes the more business-oriented Pacific Sutera Hotel, the Magellan offers a whole world of high-end luxury accommodations and activities. Consisting of 456 suites, this resort is well-appointed with tasteful timber furnishings and traditional handicraft artifacts. The suites are lavishly decorated and feature fabulous views of beautifully manicured gardens or the South China Sea, set against a backdrop of the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. At the heart of the resort complex lies Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club, incorporating a 27-hole golf course designed by the renown Graham Marsh, a 104-berth marina, the popular Mandara Spa and a whole host of recreational facilities. Guests staying in one of their Magellan Club suites get personalised check-in services, prime sea-view suites and exclusive dining for breakfast and cocktails at the Magellan Club Lounge. The resort is also home to Ferdinand’s, a fine dining Italian restaurant that is considered by many to be KK’s most romantic place to wine and dine.

You’ll have to hop on a boat to get to Gayana Eco Resort (; Malohom Bay Pulau Gaya, Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman; +60 88-247 611), but it’s more than worth the trip. This eco-friendly 5-star resort rests on the edges of a lush coral reef island. Besides giving their guests an awesome experience, one of the main missions of this resort is protecting the biodiversity of the vibrant marine ecosystem which surrounds it and educating people about the importance of that conservation. The resort’s on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre has done amazing work on restoring coral reefs and propagating the extremely endangered giant clam. In fact, seven of the eight giant clams in the world can be found at Gayana. Visitors to the Research Centre can lend a hand in this important conservation work while getting up close and personal with the reef’s inhabitants. There is also a PADI Certified Dive Centre where experienced instructors can take anybody, even complete diving beginners, on underwater odysseys to see sea turtles, sea horses, clownfish, whale sharks and other exotic sea fauna. Gayana Eco Resort is probably one of the most luxurious places in the world to get a master class in marine biology. The accommodations include 52 overwater villas, the most magnificent of which are the Palm Villas. A mix of modern style and Bornean simplicity, the 1,500 square feet rooms features Frette linens, a private balcony with direct access to the ocean, a private plunge pool and (like all the villas) butler service. Their five night honeymoon package includes daily breakfast, special romantic decorations for your room, coral adoption, a tour of the Marine Research Center, a bottle of sparkling wine, one honeymoon dinner at both their Alu Alu and Macac restaurants, two massage treatments and facial and foot reflexology sessions. Prices start at RM 14,600 for a 5 night package in a Palm Villa.