I came here on an organised charity trip to help construct a primary school classroom for the local village. From the moment we got there to the moment we left, we were warmly welcomed by the locals and always felt safe and secure.
We stayed on the south side of the island, where we had a camp set up for us with numerous tents and a communal hut where we ate lunch and dinner. I'm assuming most people on here would be using the huts on the island and not staying in a tent!
The boat ride over to the island from Kinabalu took about an hour and half, but it was lovely to be out in the ocean, make the most of it while you are going over. On the island there are a couple of shop, mainly selling packaged food and cans of beer/coke ect.
The weather was perfect for most of our stay, however we did end up in the middle of a typhoon, which caused a lot of rain and strong winds for 2 days. Really it was the difference in the ocean that was very visible, with 2-3 metre high waves and debris being thrown around. Of course coming from London and seeing this, it was rather more exciting than annoying!
The main pull to this island is obviously the ocean. We all qualified for our Open Water PADI while we were there. We learnt in a calm cove, which stayed about 3 feet deep for about 500 metres out to sea. The water itself was 32 degrees, so it was literally like getting into a bath. Absolute heaven!
One of the reasons why we were there, and something that we noticed while snorkelling and diving, was the extent of the damage to the coral. While there we attended classes on marine life and then held classes with the children and teens of the island, teaching them about the importance of looking after their ocean.
Unfortunately, the coral is very bleached. If you want amazingly coloured coral, go to Sharm, you wont find it here. However there is still plenty of marine life, we even saw turtles and large stingrays during our dives.
All in all, this was a beautiful, cultural place to stay, and all of us enjoyed it massively.
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