Kuraman Island Reviews
Kuraman Island - Totally Underrated Jan 29, 2009
I have been very adventurous this year actually, I just noticed that (midlife crisis? Naah!)
Who has never heard of Kuraman Island? Well, maybe you. It is an island that lies somewhere between Malaysia and Brunei water (hard to tell, the boundary line that appears on the map can't be seen on the water). Anyway, I had heard about Kuraman Island from many of my expat friends who work in Brunei. I heard many versions however every story has a few things in common, blue water, clean sand, and snorkling. SNORKLING!! wow! I have never done that I said to myself. So when the guys at work organized this trip I quickly signed up my name to the list.
Cost: 60 Brunei dollars (around 50 USD)
Disembark point: The Empire Hotel and Country Club (look it up, it is gawjus!)
Activities included for that price:
1) Boat trip to Kuraman island (around 45 mins depending on current and wind)
2) Free barbeque luncheon by The Empire Hotel & Country Club(Deeeelicious!)
4) Return trip to the hotel (accomodation not included)
5) Flying Fish (NOW THIS IS SOMETHING YOU NEED TO TRY BEFORE YOU DIE)
6) One cute german guy who was trying to do a parachute-surfing (I didn't know what it was at first but who cares he was really cute).
We assembled at the hotel around 8am. Everyone was in a very happy mood (I was the happiest). We picked the size of our flipper (is there a technical word for that thingy you put on your feet when you swim?) Then we got on a boat and left the hotel beach around 10. The weather was beautiful that day and thank god for that too cos I get seasick really easily (which is very sad cos I love to be in the water so much..oh yeah..did I tell you I can't swim?)
Kuraman Island belongs to Malaysia. However, if you want to go there from Brunei, you don't have to get through the immigration (so safe your passport page). But here is the catch, the trip to Kuraman Island must be through a tour package like how we did it. It is an agreement between the two countries.
There is a very tiny village there in Kuraman Island. These people are mostly fishermen. They are very poor and it is sometimes hard for them to send their kids to school. I had to reasons for my trip there, one is the snorkling and two is the kids. I brought with me some school stationeries to give away to the kids.
Back to my review:
Reaching the island was a very unforgettable moment. Not because I was relieved that the bumpy ride on the boat had stopped but because the scenery was impeccable. Just like what I heard, clear blue water (you can see fishes of different colors and sorts), white sandy beach and clear blue sky...bliss.
We went to a hut, its more of like a restaurant but it is the first place where all the visitors go first. The people who were incharge of the tour started the barbeque immediately and we sat there to enjoy the beautiful and tranquil island. Heaven. I kept wondering where the kids were then someone told me that the children were all in the village and if I wanted to give the stationeries, i would have to give them myself. I was not alone though, my other friend brought along with him some new writing books for the children too. (Yup bunch of helpful people on board). So we decided to tour the island. It was not a difficult walk and we used the trail that has been made by the villagers there. The trail led us to a jetty on the side of the island facing the open sea. It was just serene, and again the colourful fishes in the sea captured my attention.
The island is actually a spit and it stretches around 3 miles or maybe more. The government started to develop the island years ago when they realised the potential the island has as tourist attraction. Potential it has indeed. However, if you are a surfer, perhaps this is not the right place to go, as the breeze there is not that strong (maybe during the monsoon season, I am not really sure) so I felt sorry for that cute german guy, he was clearly disappointed of the absence of wind at the place...oh well..you cant have everything can you.
There are also some chalets there for anyone who wish to stay there, but I wouldn't recommend them as they are not very well maintained and quite shabby. The chalet cost around 25 ringgit Malaysia for a night. So there you go fellow travellers, an island with a restaurant that serves fresh sea food (depending on availability) and a place to bunk in.
Another attraction of the island is an old lighthouse. It has been there since the colonial era and is not functioning anymore. To get to the lighthouse, you have to take another trail, a bit deep in the jungle. We decided not to go there as we would like to return to the hut and begin our snorkling (YIPPIE!).
We changed into our swimming suit and got back to the boat. The boat took us to another island called the Corpse Island (nice name) but no deadbody to found. Since that was my first snorkling, I didn't really know what to expect. Suddenly, all the people started wearing their flippers, life jacket and snorkle and jumped straight into the open water (and the image of sharks suddenly conjured in mind...oh get a grip Nikie). So I collected whatever was left of my courage and decided to join the others, in the sea. The people from the hotel had been very helpful and they told me not to worry (no shark around there). So there I was holding on to the ladder. I envied my friends who could swim, they were really enjoying themselves in the water like dolphins (Show off!). Blonde moment; the water was really really salty I said to myself, (duh you're in the sea Nikie), then I let go of the ladder and floated. A voice inside told me to start kicking, oh wow I moved! I immerse my face in the water and saw for the first time, Discovery Channel Live! with me as the star..YAYY!! I was snorkling! I saw corals of different shapes, fishes of different colours (and shapes), star fishes! it was simply breathtaking.
After about 2 to 3 hours of snorkling, my body started feeling strange and my head spun. So I got back in the boat, I was seasick! My body failed me again and there I was lying at the back of the boat, trying to stop the earth from moving around me. I remember being sad because of that.
We returned to the hut soon after and had our barbeque lunch. My head slowly recover and had my lunch. It was divine. They served chicken, lambs, beef, and lobsters!!! Nothing taste like fresh lobsters. After lunch, we rested for a while. The sound of the waves and the soft sea breeze wash away your worries back home.
It was late afternoon then, so we decided to head back to the hotel. But we made a stop again to the Corpse island and everyone resumed their snorkling session...everyone but me. I wanted to but I didn't want to get sick again :( sob sob.
We arrived on the beach outside the Empire Hotel around 5. My headache dissipated(but it was too late for snorkling then drat!). But the fun had not finish yet. There was the Flying Fish to do! I had no idea what that was until they explained and showed us the wide, yellow boat with 6 straps. It was a test of your grip. The boat looks like 3 banana boat join together by a thin inflatable mattress. on each banana boat there were 2 straps for you to hold on to. This Flying Fish will be towed by a speedboat at a highspeed and you need to hang on to your strap. Crazy but fun! Highly recommend. The Flying Fish was shaped in a way that the front of it would rise when the speedboat moved. I was sitting in the middle at the back. As the boat moved, the strap got slippery and the Flying Fish kept on bumping until I lost my grip and fell (again salty water). The Flying Fish kept moving leaving me behind, in the middle of the sea (now I know how the people in the movie Open Water felt). It was a very scary feeling and the last thing I wanted to feel then was something touching my legs (SHARKS!!) The boat came back for me, YAYYY! and I got back to my saddle. The boat accelerated again, but this time I didn't fall, woohoo! What fun!
I got home and brought with me, memories to cherish and a nasty bruise on my thigh (from the Flying Fish ride) and the trip was really worth it!
Part of the Some photos of my boat trip to Kuraman Island in 2008 travel blog
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