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Hiking in Spectacular Bohey Dulang, Sabah

After meeting sea gypsies, it was now time to go for hiking in Bohey Dulang, Sabah. We were doing a kind of island hopping in Sabah. Let me tell you, one of the most interesting places in Sabah is Bohey Dulang in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Semporna Sabah.

If not for anything else, Bohey Dulang island should be visited for spectacular views like this.

The 650 metre steep hike up this island and I had a breath-taking view of a circular coral reef fringe which is actually a sea-filled volcanic crater. The corals reminded me of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

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Along with Bodgaya, the biggest island in TSMP (Tun Sakaran Marine Park), Bohey Dulang is an island with a hill and is formed by the remnants of an ancient volcano. Both the islands are separated by a shallow channel.

The crater which formed these islands is now a large, 25m deep majestic lagoon with aqua-coloured seawater. Just below the water is a long stretch of coral reef. This stunning place looks so surreal that it’s hard to believe unless you see it yourself. I am told, on clear days you can also see the shoreline of Semporna town.

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About Bohey Dulang Island

In 2004, Bohey Dulang, with seven other islands, was gazetted as ‘Tun Sakaran Marine Park’ (TSMP) by the Sabah Government. Like any other folklore, Bohey Dulang also has a story.

As per the legends, there lived a beautiful princess named Salamia in nearby Bum-Bum Island. A notorious Sultan from the southern Philippines wanted to marry her. So her family hid her in Bohey Dulang, to avoid a forced marriage.

However, she vanished a few days later and believed to be hidden by the spirits of this island and turned into a fairy. Even today, local people say they can hear Princess Salamia singing and her dog barking during the night of full moon. Occasionally, she is seen walking around the island.

The name Bohey Dulang is a combination of two words in Bajau language. Bohi (bohey) meaning water and dulang meaning pools or depressions. On the eastern side of the island, there are several oval rock pools, small waterfalls and main freshwater streams which might be referring to the name Bohey Dulang.

The locals say these pools are a source of drinking water for Princess Salamia. As per a documented report, a large cave of around 40 M high and over 20 M long is also situated on the east side of the island. Could it be the home of Princess Salamia? 🙂

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Hiking in Bohey Dulang

Though the hike is only around 650 M through the forest, it could be quite tough for those who are not used to hiking. Nonetheless, we would highly recommend you to do this because the view from top is totally worth the hike. The peak presents an overwhelming view of the neighbouring islands and reefs of many hues of blue and green. The high cliff are made of dark grey rocks which are actually volcanic rocks of Pliocene and Quaternary period.

The hike is steep and the hike time is between 25 to 40 minutes depending on your physical fitness. Do not rush lest you’ll be out of breath soon. The climb can become more challenging after rain, because some areas are bound to be slippery and muddy. We would suggest you to wear proper walking shoes with good grip, flip-flops are strictly a no-no. A bottle of drinking water can save you from getting dehydrated. It’s humid in the forest and quite hot on the peak.

Bohey Dulang hiking trail has two routes; one for climbing up and another for coming down.

There are ropes, handrails, steps made of wooden planks, on the route to make your climb easier but most of the time it’s soil and rocky path you’ll be walking on. I was grabbing the small thin tree trunks along the trail for support. Thanks to the guides who were walking along, my hike looked very easy. My advice, just go slow and you can make it quite comfortably. Many old Chinese women were also going up.

This is a must visit attraction if you are planning your Borneo holidays. Do include it in your Semporna / Tun Sakaran Marine Park itinerary. Travelling to Semporna island cluster is never a dull moment. In Malay, I can say, “tempat menarik di semporna”. 😀

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Start of the hiking trail. Looks easy, eh? 🙂
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What other things to do in Bohey Dulang

While you’re there, there are many things to do in Bohey Dulang. We have listed below a few of them.

Hike to the top of Bohey Dulang Peak and while you take the arduous journey, get rewarded by variety of tropical flora and probably fauna too. Splendid view of aqua blue lagoon awaits you.

Snorkeling/ Diving
Since the region has best of corals and marine life, snorkeling is a fun activity and is quite popular here. There are plenty of dive operators and resorts that organize diving and snorkeling trips to Bohey Dulang.

In 1933, Pulau Bohey Dulang was declared a bird sanctuary, a status that was revoked decades later in 1978 to make way for establishment of the marine park. But even today, it’s a paradise for birdwatchers where a total of 48 species including Metallic Pigeon, black-naped fruit doves, Nicobar Pigeon, babblers, partridges, owls, and Pied hornbills freely flock the area.

Wildlife does not always mean lions and tigers. Besides birds, long-tailed macaque and otter also live on Bohey Dulang but very few in number. And yes, there is no leech even though it’s a forest. 😀

Giant Clam and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery
There are also Giant Clams and Invertebrate Hatchery (GCIH) Giant Clam Hatchery where rare giant clams are bred.  This gives the local community an opportunity to pursue in aquaculture that turn out to be an alternative livelihood program.

Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) settlements
The island is also home to Sea Gypsies, locally known as the Bajau Laut. They inhabit the islands of Bohey Dulang and Bodgaya. Their nomadic and water-bound lifestyle is a subject of interest to ordinary tourists as well as anthropologists. However, tourists are advised not to entertain them in any manner.

Are there any tours for Bohey Dulang

There are day tours as well as 2-day-1-night trips available either from Kota Kinabalu or the nearby island where you may choose to stay in your pakej sabah (Sabah Package). The operators will arrange the land / boat transfer, permit, lunch, island tour and snorkeling/diving gears for you.

How to get to Bohey Dulang or Getting to Bohey Dulang

How to go to Tawau: Tawau is well connected with other towns of Malaysia and neighboring countries. There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Singapore and other towns to Tawau.

Tawau to Semporna: Getting from Tawau to Semporna and back is easy and there are several ways to commute using public and private transportation. Bus, Airport Taxi or Minivan are available and you may use them as per your convenience.  

Bohey Dulang can be reached :

  • From Semporna to Bohey Dulang: Around 35 minutes by speedboat.
  • From Mataking and Pom Pom Island: About 20 minutes.
  • From Mabul island to Bohey Dulang: Around 1.5 hours.
This is the reason why you should hike to Bohey Dulang!

What are the Tips for Bohey Dulang

  1. Visitors are required to get a park permit before entering the island. Your tour operators will help you. There is also a small information centre that displays some of the wildlife in the surrounding waters of the island.
  2. The hike to the peak is a bit arduous. Wear comfortable closed toe shoes with good grip. You can also rent the shoes for RM 5.
  3. Bring a bottle of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
  4. Bring back your trash (empty bottle, cigarette buds etc) while coming down.
  5. Toilets are available only at the start of the trail. No western toilets, only squat toilets.
  6. There’s no restaurant. Bring your own food, snacks and water for the trip. You can spend a good few hours at the island for hiking and/or snorkelling and diving.
  7. It is possible to walk around the island at low tide by following the narrow fringe of beach. However, in some places one has to scramble over rocks or vegetation. Don’t go alone, take a guide.

What is the best time to visit Bohey Dulang

The best time to visit Bohey Dulang in Sabah is from February to April. Then from August-September.

Where to stay or Places to Stay

Sipadan-Mabul Resort is a very good place to stay. They arrange for all your transfers and activities. 

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45 thoughts on “Hiking in Spectacular Bohey Dulang, Sabah”

  1. The pictures are to die for! They are the sole reasons I’ll ask my husband to book tickets. Thank you for sharing this amazing place.

  2. Interesting about Bohey Dulang and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, especially the story about the Princess and the Sultan in Southern Philippines. I am Filipino and there are many claims and counterclaims between Sabah and the Philippines.

  3. Hi!! I never thought that how beautiful Malaysia is. I like Bodgaya which is the biggest island in TSMP. I love the sea view, you know. How can the water be so clearly. I hope that one day I will go to Bohey Dulang, Sabah in Malaysia.

  4. Stunning photography and crystal clear waters. Love the legend behind Bohey Dulang:) While the hike sounds like was steep at some places, the views are quite exceptional. Well worth the reward after the effort. Thanks for the introduction to this part of Malaysia 🙂

  5. I couldn’t take my eyes off from the first pictures. It is so damn beautiful and doesn’t even look real. 25 to 40 minutes is actually worth for such a gorgeous view. The story of Bohey Dulang is interesting too. After your post, we have added Bohey Dulang to our list. It is super amazing.

  6. First, your pictures are extraordinary!! Second, I had never even heard of Bohey Dulang Island, and now I’m adding it to my travel wish list. I’ll take your advice about the hiking, though — I’d go very slow. I’m not great at hiking or with elevations, but those views would be worth it. Plus, my husband loves hiking, so he’d be eager to give this a try.

  7. Whoa. I actually said “whoa” out loud when looking at the views during your hike in Bohey Dulang, Sabah, Malaysia. The views of the other volcanic islands in the entire state park are so awesome and the water surrounding Bohey Dulang looks amazing as well. During your tour was there time allocated to swim in the other rock pools or waterfalls that define Bohey Dulang?

    1. These are wonderful colors in this region.
      Yes, there’s a time frame since you can’t stay on the island, you have to go back before it gets dark or has high tides.

      The operators will guide you about the timing.

  8. I’m amazed at the colors of the water around Bohey Dulang island — I’ve never seen pictures like this before. I’d love to go snorkeling here, especially if it’s anything like the Great Barrier Reef!

  9. Since I’m a diver that water is thrilling and hearing that there are many dive sites with operators to support that. Bird watching would be a thrill too. Thanks for such a detailed post.

  10. This area is stunningly beautiful! Lots to explore BUT I would want to do all my hiking in the early morning because I have a feeling it gets very hot there! No matter as there is lots of water to cool off in!

  11. I can certainly see why you would hike up a 650m steep hill. The views were certainly stunning. Interesting to read that there are different paths to go up and come down. But good that there are some aids to help with the hike. The water looks so inviting. We would definitely want to try scuba diving in Bohey Dulang.

    1. This view is to die for! One of the best views I have ever seen in my life. 😀

      Scuba diving is also very popular there. Many people first hike and then go for diving or snorkeling. 🙂

  12. This is really beautiful. Steep and such it would prob take me a bit to get up there. Never a fan of climbing up things lol even in my best shape. Good tip on the water, may need a couple of those lol.

  13. Whoa, the water looks super blue! What an insane view from the top. That’s definitely worth the hike. I’m from the Philippines and while I’m no Sultan, I can definitely see his motives for wanting to marry the princess there (forced marriage or not). I would marry for the view!

  14. Oh, that circular coral reef fringe of Bohey Dulang looks gorgeous. Definitely worth a hike!
    The story about the princess Salamia from Bum-Bum Island is so lovely. And the fact that waterfalls and pools are connected to the legend adds to the atmosphere, I’m sure. No wonder that she was turned into a fairy. In these surroundings, it’s like nothing less than surreal would be sufficient. 🙂

    1. Indeed! I want to go there again whenever I can. Such a beautiful place. 🙂

      Even I was fascinated by this story and sounded real in some way. 😉

  15. Wow! I would love to hike in Bohey Dulang. Those views are just stunning. I’d also love to go snorkeling and bird watching. It’s great to know that there are so many lovely things to do here! Adding it to my list!

  16. I’ve never heard of Bohay Dulang, but I would love to explore the Sabah area one day! If even the little grannies were doing the hike, I’m sure I could manage. Interesting about the sea gypsies!

  17. The hike to Bohey Dulang Is just so worth it. The views from the top are breathtaking and it looks like a dreamland. The aqua colored seawater is just so unreal. On clear days the shoreline of Semporna town will surely add more drama to the pictures.

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