For decades, I only saw this island through the airplane window. I never knew what they call this island and don’t really know the exact location of this place. From the plane, this island is fascinating. The reason why it is so interesting was its lagoon. Now I finally know its name!
Let’s talk about the negative aspect of traveling to Pulau Dinawan (Dinawan Island). I can tell you; it is a crowded island packed with visitors both locals and tourists. The island is small thus during packed seasons, there are hardly any spaces around the beaches. The concrete structures are eyesores to all of you who love nature; but this doesn’t bother to most Asian tourists. There are piles of unkempt rubbish littering around the beaches. The most heartbroken things to see are dead corals! This is due to over-zealous development by the tour operator and probably due to fish bombing practices that are rampantly carried out in North Borneo (Sabah) and Southern Philippines.
But for a time being, the goodness on this island out-weights the badness. So I would suggest visiting here before all these are gone! The most breathtaking aspect is the scenery. Splitting the island apart is a lagoon; so remarkable. The bigger landmass of the island is in the north while the smaller one is in the south.
As I mentioned, the lagoon is remarkable. It is one of the most important island features; this big natural swimming pool! Due to it shallowness, the water is warm during fine weather. The temperature is just right and comfortable. This is the time to dip in and relax. Here the blue sky could easily be reflected by the pool; looking equally blue. You could go out kayaking around the shallow lagoon assured of being safe protected by the beaches and sand banks surrounding it. Taking pictures and selfie are important routines while being on this island. During good weather, the island is a very good spot to see sunset if one decide to stay on the island for a night. Your silhouette will be a perfect print on the yellow-orange landscape. At night you could also see the sparkling planktons lighting up just like fireflies.
Dinawan is also quite dense with forest especially on the bigger parts of the island. I wanted to go there but the guide and the tour operator told me no one had ventured inside so they don’t encourage me to try. That place might be teeming with wild animals and they don’t want to be responsible if anything happens to their guests who are curious enough to venture on their own. But the thick jungle looks tempting for more adventurous tourist. Just as we were talking, I saw several beautiful hornbills flying over us towards the dense vegetation. The tour operator told me that the hornbills are common on this island. I could hear these big birds squawking loudly in the distance.
The place of embarkation is the Kinarut Jetty. Adventure begins right from this place as we passed through the towering mangrove trees; hopefully will be protected till eternity. Inside the mangrove swarm, we could see mudskippers and also birds such as kingfisher. It takes 15 minute boat ride to reach Pulau Dinawan. The distance between Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) to Kinarut is about 17 kilometers and it takes about 45 minutes to reach this place from the city. After visiting this island, many of us locals were wondering; how come we never knew about this island? So close yet so far!