Pulau Banggi is part of a group of islands located within the Kudat Division and is off the northern coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. With an area of 440.7km square, it is the largest island in Malaysia followed by the islands of Langkawi and Penang. The area around Pulau Banggi has the second largest concentration of coral reefs in Malaysia and contains an important mix of habitats including mangroves, seagrasses and open sea providing safe haven for endangered animals such as turtles and the dugong.
The Sabah State Government has proposed Pulau Banggi, along with neighbouring Pulau Balambangan, Pulau Malawali, Pulau Balak and Pulau Molleangan amongst others, for gazettement as the Tun Mustafa Park under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks. This Kudat-Banggi conservation area forms the southern half of the Balabic Straights which separate Borneo from the Philippines and is the meeting place of the Sulu and the South China Seas. The Tun Mustafa Park being over 1 million hectares will be the biggest marine protected area in Southeast Asia.
To reach the main town of Karakit on Pulau Banggi there are daily one hour ferry services that depart from the northern fishing town of Kudat. Kudat is a three hour drive from Kota Kinabalu – the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia.
Diving around Pulau Banggi is astounding and bursting with diversity, due to its proximity to the Balabic Straight Corridor the currents can provide more than a challenge. The corridor serves as a passageway for marine life forms from plankton to whalesharks and all the creatures in between such as dolphins, various species of sharks and whales, turtles, and shoals of oceanic fishes. Dive sites are encased in a stunning variety of corals such as gorgorian fans, bubble coral, staghorn, lettuce corals and many other hard and soft corals. Making their home in the corals are batfish, squid, shrimp, eels, nudibranchs and countless other creatures. There are several merchant ship wrecks in the area, two of which lay in 20-25m of water, and another that is laying at 50m. There are records of countless others just waiting to be discovered.
Thick virgin rainforest covers more than 70% of Pulau Banggi which is largely unaffected by development, and gorgeous white sand beaches wrap around most of the coastline. Over 20,000 people of various ethnicity call Pulau Banggi home. The main town on Pulau Banggi is the town of Karakit; here you will find the Bonggi Resort on the waterfront. They have basic rooms with fan and shared bathroom, or you can go a step up with air-con and attached bathroom. For the more adventurous, Banggi-style wooden huts are available and those who are both adventurous with no fear of heights can opt for the tree houses that present beautiful views of the sea and surrounding islands.
Pulau Banggi has something for everyone, be it lazing on the pristine beaches, wildlife and bird watching, jungle trekking, deep-sea fishing, island hopping, exploring local cultures, scuba diving snorkelling and swimming.
Experience level: advanced
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