One sunny afternoon in Kota Kinabalu I was invited to experience the beautiful glory that is the Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort. Traveling full-time means we often spend each and everyday sightseeing and exploring. Not to be obnoxious but this can get entirely tiring so we were thrilled at the chance to just relax and plan in the sand, surf, and sun during a daycation at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru. Emphasis on the play as the resort has an awesome waterpark with three epic slides, water balloon catapults, and a bucket that dumps massive loads of water overhead. We might have been the only adults taking part in the festivities but relished in the chance to let our inner child out for a bit of fun. Don’t miss out on our snapshots of the mesmerizing sunset we witnessed at the end of the post, we could even see Manukan Island!





We were treated to a legendary lunch of healthy dishes influenced by traditional Bornean cuisine at Coco Joe’s Cabana, the 5-star luxury resort’s beachfront casual dining establishment. Is there anything better than dining with your toes in the sand and the south of the waves splashing the shore? The highlight of our meal was certainly having goat cheese and avocado–two of our favorite ingredients that we’ve been missing while traveling in Asia. After such a tasty and vegetable-filled meal it only made sense to treat ourselves to 22kt gold leaf ice cream on the beach from the Cool Box Ice Cream Bar.





We were graciously welcomed to enjoy the typically guests-only 2,000-square-meter pool for the afternoon at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru. Yes, it really is that gigantic! And with good reason as there’s a sectioned off adults-only area with infinity views of the South China Sea. The most amazing aspect of the pool is the built-in underwater lounge booths that are available on one edge of the pool.


You might be wondering, what was I, a dedicated responsible and community-based traveler doing at an international luxury resort? Let’s bust the myth that travel can’t be ethical and luxury once and for all, shall we? For starters, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru classifies as a Green Hotel according to the ASEAN Tourism Standard. The world-renowned collection of resorts launched Sanctuary in 2010 which supports localized efforts towards conservation of habitat and animal life at select properties. At the Tanjung Aru location, the focus is marine conservation and coral planting. A marine biologist oversee’s the long-term project of restoring the house reef. There’s also a fantastic installation, the Clownfish Discovery Center.  Tanjung Aru Resort adopted Sekolah Kebangsaan Bantayan which has two hundred and fifty grade school children attending from impoverished families living in nearby villages. These local children visit the Clownfish Discovery Center to learn about the dangers of pollution the South China Sea in addition to several other projects supported by the Resort.

Here are a few of the aquatic facts I learned at the Shangri-La’s Clownfish Discovery Center:


  • It is estimated that 80% of life on earth lives in the ocean
  • Half the oxygen on earth comes from the ocean
  • 1 billion people on earth depend on fish for their primary source of protein (including yours truly)
  • Yearly 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean
  • Cigarette butts are the most littered item worldwide
  • 100,000 or more marine animals die annually from ingesting or being entangled in plastic
  • Coral reef in the South East Asian coral triangle, which includes Borneo, will completely disappear by 2100 due to human waste and climate change
  • All clownfish are born male
  • The leader of the group becomes female and is usually the largest fish
  • When a female clownfish dies the largest male in the group becomes a female and thus the leader of the group
  • The male clownfish look after the eggs
  • Clownfish are feminist and amazing



The sustainable components at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru extend to the very structure of the building. The Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru was the very first beach resort in Sabah back in the 80s. It was composed entirely of locally sourced recycled wood and new additions to the resort have been designed to reflect the original design elements. The decor boasts fascinating handicrafts from Borneo’s many indigenous tribes. The Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru also hosted several screenings during this year’s Borneo Eco Film Festival. They’ve been paperless for over a decade and provide e-Readers to guests instead of newspapers. You also won’t find plastic water bottles here at Shangri-La’s as they own a bottling plant and exclusively use their recycled glass bottles. Do you see now how luxury and mindful travel can coexist? I’m not suggesting you stop staying at homestays and guest houses but you can still make an impact through thoughtful choices when booking a few nights of luxury during your vacation!




Thank you, Shangri-La’s Tanjun Aru, for inviting us to a delicious lunch. All opinions and photos are my own. This post contains affiliate links, please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.


This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Such fabulous photos… The sunset looks amazing and so does the food. I didn't know there was any myth regarding travel and luxury stay. . But good to know now.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful place to stay. The views from that infinity pool are amazing! I love their focus on conservation too. We definitely need more of that in the world today.

  3. I am so glad you enjoyed it! The sunset was truly fantastic…I swear the images are not edited at all!

  4. Aren't the views awesome. It is great to find such a luxurious place that is also giving back.

  5. I have always wanted to visit this place…how wonderful you go to go..Love the pink flamingo, I have one! Fabulous photos!

  6. This looks like my type of daycation too! Just relaxing, eating, floating in a pool and finishing the day with a beautiful sunset. I didn't expect any less from a Shangri La, but it still looks amazing.

  7. Wonderful post, enjoying learning about ocean facts! It looks and sounds like a beautiful place to stay.

  8. Omg your flamingo floaty is AMAZING! I love it. And your pictures are fab! So beautiful. Making me jealous since I'm currently where it's snowing and freezing cold! PS love your swimsuit!

  9. Definitely looks like a gorgeous place to stay! It must have been difficult to leave at the end of the day!

  10. Gorgeous pictures! I loved all the facts you gave and the fact that they have gold ice cream is pretty interesting!

  11. Wow, nice place. i’ll probably spend a lot of time at that Discovery Center. I am very glad to read that this resort is doing its part in the community and ocean. Some of these facts about the clow fish are rather funny though, lol!

  12. I love that the resort has a Discovery Center. What a great amenity! In an area this gorgeous, I'd be happy just sipping drinks by the water, but I think I'd pull myself away to learn more about the ocean.

  13. Thanks so much, Krista! It was beautiful and the ocean facts and their dedication to saving aquatic life was incredible.

  14. I actually borrowed it from a three-year old! Haha. Thanks for the sweet compliment, I am glad you like the pics. Hope you can get somewhere warm soon but enjoy the snow while you have it! This swimsuit is from Forever 21!

  15. It is so fascinating to be able to learn about aquatic life so close to the environment!

  16. Thank you, Becky! I wasn't suprised but the gold didn't really taste like anything.

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