What is the ‘Alternative Kudat’ or AKCC?
The ‘Alternative Kudat CbEt Collective’ or AKCC was conceived in 2016 as a community-based ecotourism (CbEt) initiative to develop supplementary livelihood options for communities, thereby helping relieve the pressure on marine resource use at the Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Sabah, Borneo.
Also known as ‘Alternative Kudat,’ AKCC is made up five communities that are best experienced in a loop, offering intrepid visitors the chance to move away from the mainstream and immerse themselves in the community, diversity, and authenticity of what is truly, the heart of Kudat.
1. Bavang Jamal – The perfect beach getaway
Bavang Jamal is located in the vicinity of Simpang Mangayau or the “Tip of Borneo.” The village is the perfect getaway for beach lovers and backpackers who love sunsets, white sand beaches, and taking a dip in crystal clear waters.
A stay at a rustic Rungus longhouse run by the Agansai family offers visitors a typical village experience. You can also take the mangrove walk along the Jamal River (or Bavang Jamal) to camp under the stars at Kelambu Beach or simply bask in the glow of the legendary sunset of Kudat.
- Longhouse stays from MYR45 per person
- Camping at Kelambu Beach from MYR15 per person
- Contact Roland Agansai at +60-19-812-4577 for updates
2. Loro Kecil – Immerse in warm hospitality
The outstanding natural beauty of Loro Kecil is enhanced by its location on a cove, shaped in the form of a teardrop, flanked by a pair of protruding headlands at the opening into the South China Sea. From April to June, one can have a ringside view of magnificent sunsets as the sun dips into the horizon at the center of the mouth of the bay. Sunsets can also be seen from the tip of the headlands, which can be reached through a short trail from the village.
Hosts will welcome you with unmatched warmth and hospitality as you enjoy group activities like beach camping, snorkeling, shore fishing, clam collecting, and taking boat cruises to the mangroves of Longgom River.
Visitors could immerse themselves in an authentic cultural experience by taking part in performances of the ‘Mongigol,’ a traditional Rungus dance form, taking beading lessons from a master beader or celebrating rice planting or harvesting with the community.
- Beach huts from MYR40 per person
- Beach camping from MYR20 per tent
- Activities from MYR50 per person
- Contact Jacky Justin at +60-19-534-7543 for updates
3. Tajau Laut – Adventures await visitors
The intrepid traveler is in for a succession of surprises in the unassuming village of Tajau Laut. Visitors at the Tajau Laut Guesthouse, a new facility built by the local community, will wake up to a hearty breakfast at sunrise beside a white sand beach with gorgeous views of the majestic Balambangan and Banggi islands looming in the distance.
Tajau Laut will entice visitors of varying tastes: from ordinary beach lovers to certified divers, kayakers, nature trippers, amateur fishermen, or intrepid trekkers at the Labuan forest reserve.
Textile enthusiasts can treat themselves to ‘Batik Botanik’ lessons, making batik using natural dyes extracted from jackfruit skins, mango and Ketapang leaves, and mangrove bark.
Birdwatchers may take boat cruises at the mangrove-lined Tajau River. Another major highlight is a seafarer package that links Tajau Laut to the other communities that make up ‘Alternative Kudat’ (or AKCC) with the historic islands of Balambangan and Banggi.
- Tajau Laut Guesthouse from MYR69 per person (including breakfast & dinner)
- ‘Batik Botanik’ package (3 days/2 nights) from MYR130 plus MRY60 per person
- Sea-farer’s package for Balambangan, Banggi, and Kudat mainland from MYR250 per person; Minimum of 6 persons
- Contact Junaidi ‘Udey’ Awang Bulat at +60-111-907-0219 for updates
4. Banggi – Treasure trove of natural wonders
Tucked away in the northwest corner of the island is the Banggi forest reserve, home to the Bungga Waterfalls and Mount Senambung. The reserve can be reached through a scenic route that weaves through the picturesque Ubian, Bonggi, Balabac, and Molboc villages of Padang, Maliyu, Damaran, Kalangkaman, Nusa-Nusa, and Kapitangan.
The main waterfall trail starts at the village of Kalangkaman at the mouth of the Bungga River strewn with large red, green, and black boulders.
Energetic visitors can then proceed to the summit for spectacular views of Banggi and Balambangan islands and, on a clear day, see the Philippine islands of Balabac and Mangsee from a distance. Less adventurous souls can simply call it a day and rest on black, red, and/or white sand beaches that dot the west coast.
To the southwest of Banggi, the crystalclear aquamarine waters of the Maliangin islands beckon, with tantalizing glimpses of pristine coral reefs. Visitors can then treat themselves to handwoven crafts made from pandan leaves in the village of Maliangin Besar.
- Tours from Karakit are available from MYR180 per person for day trip; Min 4 persons;
- Camping and cycling tours can be arranged
- Contact Shidah for updates
5. Inukiran – Authentically Rungus
Inukiran is the epitome of an authentic Rungus village with a burgeoning traditional cottage craft industry. The village is home to the ‘Monungkus’ Collective, or the “heirs of heritage” in the Rungus language, which produces traditional hand-loomed textiles, hand-woven baskets, and exquisite beadwork as well as keeping the spirit of the performing arts alive. Hermond Magupin, its founder, is at the forefront of reviving cotton and indigo cultivation and processing, a tradition at risk of extinction.
Visitors can also observe the orange profusion of the seasonal flowering of Marang-Parang trees and rubbertappers at work, as well as trek in the hills of the Matunggong forest reserve, which offers breathtaking views of the Kudat Peninsula. If you wish to experience communal living, you can book a slot at a traditional Rungus longhouse on a hill, set in the midst of a rubber plantation.
- Longhouse & guesthouse stays from MYR20 per person
- Cultural & Back-to-Nature packages from MYR30 per person
- Contact Hermond Magupin at +60-13-875-0355 or Mangsos Masap at +60-16-835-3047 for updates.
Overnight stays are highly recommended, and itineraries can be tailor-made to your preference. Contact the community representatives for the ultimate AKCC experience.
Itinerary #1 – 2 Days/1 Night at Tajau Laut and Inukiran
Day 2 – Inukiran
- Sunrise beach breakfast/Leave Tajau Laut for Inukiran
- Craft and cultural activities at Inukiran
- Visit to gong-makers of Sumangkap
- Tea break
- Return to Kota Kinabalu
Itinerary #2 – 3 Days/2 Nights at Inukiran, Loro Kecil, Bavang Jamal, and Tajau Laut
Day 1 – Inukiran
- Leave Kota Kinabalu for Inukiran
- Craft and cultural demonstration
- Tea break
- Village trails and/or hike to the peak of Matunggong forest reserve
- Dinner and cultural activities at Inukiran
Day 2 – Loro Kecil/Bavang Jamal
- Trip to Loro Kecil and hiking in the headlands of the cove or activity of choice
- Lazy afternoon by Kelambu beach at Bavang Jamal
- Tea break
- Trip to Longgom River mangroves and sunset viewing
- Dinner at Loro Kecil, cultural activities, and overnight beach camping.
Day 3 – Tajau Laut
- Leave for Tajau Laut – Day trip and activities at Balambangan Island
- Return to Tajau Laut
- Tea break
- Leave for Kota Kinabalu
Getting to Kudat
- By Bus: Kudat is served by several bus companies in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.
- By car: Cars for rent are found at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Road journeys to Kudat take up to 3 hours.
- Getting to AKCC by Public Transport
- Visitors travelling by bus to Inukiran, Bavang Jamal, Loro Kecil, and Tajau Laut can be dropped off along the main road to Kudat and can request for pick-up.
- Visitors to Banggi Island can take the public ferry from Kudat port to Karakit.
- Hermond Magupin: +60-13-875-0355
- Mangsos Masap: +60-16-835-3047
- Bavang Jamal
- Roland Agansai: +60-19-812-4577
- Loro Kecil
- Jacky Justin: +60-19-534-7543
- Rigo: +60-19-785-8367
- Tajau Laut
- Junaidi ‘Udey’ Awang Bulat: +60-111-907-0219
- Banggi Island
- Noraidah ‘Shida’ Junlai: +60-14-972-7157
(Photo Credits: Lim Sheng Haw/ADB)