Photo: Coconut anyone?

Eat and meet

Kudat town
You’ll probably notice the giant cement prawn welcoming committee as you arrive in Kudat, an obvious indication that seafood is popular fare in town. Fresh, not cement. East of the esplanade, a number of stilted seafood restaurants sit over the water, but the locals pointed us away from the sea (although we heard they are good too), and we tried the seafood at Kampung Kelapa, directly behind the produce market. We were not disappointed (actually we were a little disappointed—they don’t sell beer). Pick from the tanks and pay by weight in this open-air Chinese family-style seafood restaurant. Fresh. 450g crab is 18 ringgit.

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Local coffee shops are ubiquitous and serve usual Malay fare. Restoran Sayang is handy if you’re catching a bus as it’s next to the terminal. They do a decent roti, and if you’re there on a Friday, that’s biriyani day.

Welcome to Kudat... and fresh seafood.

Welcome to Kudat... and fresh seafood. Photo: Sally Arnold

Selera Ria under the Hotel Ria is a bit more upmarket than most kedai kopi in town and sells a selection of tasty pastry treats (along with noodles and rice and coffee). The egg tarts (1.60 ringgit) are moorish.

We headed into Hainan Kitchen for the air-con and so glad we did, this super clean, fast-food-style joint does an excellent laksa, and they probably serve a good chicken rice too (there’s nine versions of this dish on the menu). Fish and chips and spag bol are available for a Western fix.

Hainan Kitchen's excellent laksa.

Hainan Kitchen's excellent laksa. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’re after a refresher as you wander around, behind the Sedco area is a market that sells coconuts. Nothing else, just lots of stalls selling coconuts> They’ll lop the top and pop in a straw. Nature’s own isotonic.

Tip of Borneo
When you visit the Tip of Borneo, stop in at Tip Top Restaurant on Kalampunain Beach run by the same folk as Tempat Do Aman jungle camp. Excellent beach-side vibe and I’ll-die-if-I-don’t-get-that-recipe cakes (3-5 ringgit). For the non-sweet tooth, there’s real food too — Malay and Western from nasi to burgers (mains 10-17 ringgit). Tip Top Restaurant have bikes for hire and you can stock up on gifts at a small Rungus handicraft store. If you stay at Tempat Do Aman they offer a free shuttle service.

Barbecued fish at Secret Place.

Barbecued fish at Secret Place. Photo: Sally Arnold

Shhhh Secret Place. A couple of bays south, on possibly Sabah’s best (not quite secret anymore) beach, Bavang Jamal is family-run cafe and beachside campsite. They serve noodle and rice dishes (6.50-8 ringgit), or they may whack a fish on the barbie. Laze on a hammock and unwind.

Just down the beach from Secret Place is Sabah’s most chilled watering hole La Playa Beach Bar. It’s run by the same folk who own popular El Centro bar in Kota Kinabalu. Grab a cold one, order a wood-fire pizza, settle in for the day and get lost in the rhythm of the waves. Don’t miss the sizzling sunset as the western sky fires up and hints of phosphoresce dance on the seafoam (say hi when you pop in, they’re our friends).

Great sunsets to be had from La Playa.

Great sunsets to be had from La Playa. Photo: Sally Arnold

Coconut market: Jalan Urusetia, Kudat (behind Sedco shoplots); open daily 08:00-18:00. Hainan Kitchen: Jalan Ibrahim Arshad, Kudat (behind Hotel Ria)
Kampung Kelapa: Behind Kudat market; T: (0886) 23 218; open daily 15:30-00:00.
La Playa Beach Bar: Bavang Jamal Beach;;; open Tues-Sun 12:00-20:00.
Restoran Sayang: Jalan Lo Thien Chok (near bus station); open daily 05:30-22:00.
Secret Place: Bavang Jamal Beach; T: (0104) 145 291;;
Selera Ria: Lot 3 Jalan Ibrahim Arshad, Kudat (under to Hotel Ria); T: (0886) 22 226; open daily 06:30-17:00.
Tip Top Restaurant: Kalampunain Beach; T: (0138) 808 395;; open daily 08:30-21:00.

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Popular attractions in Kudat

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Kudat.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kudat? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.

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