Beaches have always enlighten the mind and heart of generations, with fun, joy, and peace. Children’s love for the beaches is unquestionable. Running aimlessly on the sand, building sand castles, and crushing into the gentle waves, seem to bring endless fun and joy to them. While adults would organize lots of activities at the beaches, from families picnics to BBQ parties, from leisure activities to competition sports. Many people weekends’ blissful lives evolve around the beaches too. For the peace seeking individuals, walking along a quiet beach, listening to the sound of the rushing waves, and absorbing the beauty of nature around, can do a lot of good for the heart and soul.
Tanjung Aru Beach, some 5 km south of Kota Kinabalu, has never ceased to attract visitors to its shores. Stretching from the elegant Tanjung Aru Shangri-la Beach Hotel all the way to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway, this 2.5 km beach is decorated with miles of brown and white sand, and the Aru trees, which have needles like leaves. The Tanjung Aru Beach can be divided into 5 sections, namely, the Yacht Club Beach, First Beach, Prince Philip’s Park, Second Beach, and Third Beach. On a clear day all these beaches are great spots to watch the sunset, and the Manukan Island near by.
The Yacht Club Beach is sandwiched between the old Yacht Club house and the Tanjung Aru Shangri-la Beach Hotel. This beach is adjourned to an open space, with size of three football fields, which is carpeted with green grassy land and shaded with many Aru trees. Modern facilities like life guard tower, public washroom, and resting huts are built by the city authority. Because of its lush green open space, many activities are organised here by groups and families, especially on weekends. The shallow sea on the beach front is also a very popular place for swimming. Next to the Yacht Club is the 9 hole Tanjung Aru Golf Course, the oldest golf establishment in Kota Kinabalu.
The Tanjung Aru First Beach, the most visited section of Tanjung Aru Beach, has seen many changes over the years. Today it is a multi-entertainment food courts, with a hawker centre which sells many local delights, like coconut drinks, fried noodle, steamed ground nut, pickled mango, yummy satays, and steamed butter sweet corn. There are also an outdoor cafe, bar, and seafood restaurant, and not forgetting to mention the upscaled Mediterranean Bar and Restaurant in the middle. Cultural performance is carried out nightly at the podium centre, and a foot reflexology centre to cater for the tired legs walking along the beaches is also located here.
The Prince Philip’s Park and the first beach is separated by a small stream, the park also reminds Sabahan of its colonial past. This 5-acres landscape garden park showcases many varieties of plants from the tropic, bogonvilla, hibiscus, and etc. A few small huts are built facing the sea, and seats are situated around the park. The park is very popular with couples who want to spend some quiet time together.
The Second Beach consists of a restaurants, children playground, a roller blade skating ring, and a children’s traffic playground. Schools competition on traffic safety is still being held yearly at this traffic playground. Taman Selera is a restaurant that serves local halal food. There used to be a beautiful walkway erected along the Second Beach front. Nature elements have destroyed it into crumbles, and the ruins can be seen to this days. This place is also popular with picnickers but swimming here is more dangerous because of the under water current. There is also a public washroom here.
The Third Beach is the least developed and thanks to the natural habitat of the Tanjung Aru Beach which is still preserved, where sandy ground and the Aru tress make up the landscape. Trails in sandy track are the only way to get around, because of this the Third Beach is also less crowded. With a few small huts built along the sea front, many individual groups will choose this spot for picnic and BBQ. During weekend many families will bring their children for swimming and also joggers can be seen running up and down. The road junction turning into the third beach is a great place to watch airplanes going up and down as the Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway is only separated by a high wired fence.
Unique to Tanjung Aru Beach is the yearly New Year celebration, KK Lites of all walks of life can be seen milling around the entire length of the beach. Roads leading to the beaches are normally blocked by the polices from 8pm onwards, as every beach in Tanjung Aru is busy with parties goers and is packed to its limit. Tradition has it when the clock strikes twelve, the New Year celebration begins by cleansing the body at the sea. Crowds of people will jump into the shallow sea to wash away the bad lucks or bad omens of the past. There you have it.
Buses and taxis can be easily arranged to and from Kota Kinabalu City.