Mataking Island may be tiny, but this private speck off the eastern coast of Borneo’s Sabah is nothing short of legendary. Between the island’s powdery white sands, the crystal clear cerulean waters of the Celebes Sea, and the stunning underwater coral playground of the Alice Channel, this hidden tropical escape is the perfect destination for the world’s most avid divers and beach seekers. Add to it the exclusive chalets and villas of the Reef Dive Resort, and it's difficult to find a more exclusive and romantic destination in such a pristine corner of the world.

Property Details

The Reef Dive Resort accomodations are styled according to traditional Sabah architecture, built in harmony with the environment and embodying the cozy Malaysian ambiance with prevailing wood structures throughout. The 24 premier deluxe rooms are situated at the center of the island with private garden sundecks, while the 16 oversized King and Beach chalets offer private balconies and outdoor bathtubs with front row seats to seaside sunrises. The five luxury beach villas are the newest addition to the Reef Dive Resort and are subsequently some of the finest in all of Malaysia. Built by hand, they feature alang-alang grass roofs, enclosed front patios with private gazebos, sun decks with sun beds and outdoor Jacuzzis, and sea views. Inside, polished marble floors, stone wash basins, and handcrafted showers augment the grandeur even further.

Despite its small size, the activities on Mataking Island are endless. Given the area’s status as a diving destination, guests are urged to suit up and explore the 30-plus dive sites around Mataking and its surrounding islands. Mataking sits on the edge of the continental shelf, with fringing reef of hard and soft coral filled with macros and pelagic sea creatures in abundance. There is even an underwater post office attached to a sunken cargo ship, where divers can mail their plastic-protected postcards. True big fish fans will vie for a dive trip to nearby Sipadan Island, designated as one of the top three diving and snorkeling destinations in the world for its pristine reefs and schools of sharks, barracudas, bump headed parrotfish, and schooling jacks, as well as its more unique whale sharks and Green and Hawksbill Turtles.

Never fear, non-divers. There are plenty of above-water activities to be had at the Reef Dive Resort. Culture enthusiasts can visit Bohey Dulang to meet some of the Bajau Laut tribe, one of the last ethnic groups of sea faring sea gypsies that live in Southeast Asia, while beach escapists can take a stroll across the long “sand tongue” to Mataking’s adjacent small island for private beach time. Another favorite excursion among guests is to the sea turtle hatcher, where between 50 and 80 Green and endangered Hawkbill Turtle nests are overseen and hatched each year. After a day of activity, head back to the resort for some relaxation at the Jamu Spa or the Gekko Lounge Bar, the perfect spot for sipping the type of drink that matches the tropical sunset background.

At night, the fun doesn’t set with the sun. Enjoy delicious Malaysian and Western cuisine at the oceanfront Simply ‘Enak’ Restaurant, where an enticing spread of fresh local seafood is the favorite. Chefs will even cook up a guest’s catch if the day’s fishing trip proved successful. There are also the ever-popular weekend barbecues at the Sunset Bar, when cultural performances, discos, and island guitarists combine to only add to the sense of secluded island charm.

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