Worth getting out of bed for
Pamper yourself at Bunga Raya's Bornean-style, jungle-set Solace Spa, which offers a selection of Asian and western massage, scrubs, facial and beauty treatments, drawing on natural Kirstin Florian products, plus a sauna, ice room and wet room. Try the 90-minute Bamboo Massage, which combines soothing stokes and acupressure with stroking and tapping with a thick piece of bamboo; it’s fantastic on overworked muscles.
Active types can snorkel, kayak or go on a PADI-certified dive trip (pedal boats and jetskiing will please the kids, too). Back on dry land, jungle or mangrove treks, zip-lining and beach volleyball will keep your pulse racing, or chill out with a game of pool in the Clubhouse. Bunga Raya's personal gym instructors regularly host Pilates, kickboxing and TRX suspension training sessions if you need to work off your indulgences at the Koi restaurant. Wildlife on the island ranges from hornbills, monkeys and butterflies above ground, to seahorses and giant clams below the waves.
If you fancy a change of scene, island-hop around the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park, which includes largest island Gaya (home to Bunga Raya), as well as smaller surrounding isles Sapi, Sulug, Manukan and Mamutik. The hotel can charter a private boat for you, with stops en route for swimming, snorkelling or picnicing. You can also take a boat to sister hotel Gayana Eco Resort, further along Gaya Island, which has a PADI dive centre and more snorkelling and kayaking opportunities. Gayana's Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) has won several accolades for its work on coral restoration and the propagation of giant clams, and has an excellent education programme allowing you to see the activities being carried out or participate in coral planting. Refuel afterwards at Gayana’s Alu Alu Chinese seafood restaurant, considered the best in Sabah, with most of the fish sourced from its own farm.
Given its offshore location, Bunga Raya isn’t surrounded by restaurants and nightlife. If you’re craving excitement, hop on the boat to mainland state capital Kota Kinabalu, which is cosmopolitan if lacking in charm; the last boat back is usually around 11pm. The Filipino market, next to Centre Point on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, is popular with locals in the know. Skip the shopping and head straight to the food area, where you can pick your seafood, watch it being prepared and eat it Filipino-Malay style with the locals. Expats and Malays flock to Brass Monkey Café & Bar (No 1–0, Lorong Lintas Plaza 4, Lintas Plaza, Kota Kinabalu; +60 88 261543) for its friendly atmosphere and good, reliable western food. It's open from 5pm until midnight daily, or until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Headed up by chef Salvatore Marcello, Grazie (Lot 2–1–30G, Ground Floor, Level 1, Wawasan Plaza, Kota Kinabalu; +60 19 821 6936) is as authentic as it gets for an Italian in Malaysia. Indulge your carb fetish with fresh pastas and pizzas or tuck into house specialities such as carré d’agnello (rosemary lamb). Busy, bustling and illuminated with strip lighting, Seri Selera Kampung Air (Sedco Square, Kampung Air; +60 88 210 400) is by no means stylish, but it is the place to go for Malay, Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Open daily from 3pm–2am, it's KK’s official open-air food court, and boasts an array of casual restaurants and food stalls.