The alternative route to Pom Pom is by bus/coach from Kota Kinabalu. The advantages is visit Sandakan and forest wildlife (orang utans, elephants, etc) on the way. The other advantage is cost and free baggage. This is the cheapest option, you can arrive in KK during the day and catch the overnight bus which gets to Semporna in time for the morning boat to the island. The disadvantage is the night on the bus (some people sleep all the way – the unlucky don’t get much sleep). These are long distance buses and do not stop except in major towns. (advice from frequent travellers is – assume it will be cold. Make sure you have pillow, blanket, book and torch.)
The buses go from the Inanam Bus Terminal, just outside KK city centre at 7:30 am or 7:30 pm. Cost is rm$50-75 depending on bargaining power, company, and number of seats available on the bus. There are plenty of buses except during school holidays so competition is often fierce.
on arrival at 0500 get local taxi – many will be waiting when you arrive. ( less than rm10) to New tourist jetty, bangau bangau, jalan hospital. ( in Malay jeti pelongacan baru)
This is a good safe place to wait and catch up on sleep. Wait at cafe on Jetty (security, lights, toilets, seats, wifi)
at 7 or 8am walk or taxi to town for breakfast & meeting. the market is interesting and busy from 0600 and there are early coffee shops close to the market from about 0630 - see map
For taxi – walk outside the tourist jetty – wait and an unmarked car or minibus will stop. Ask for Sipadan inn or Giant (supermarket) and agree a price of RM5. (girls – if alone – get in taxi with old people, families or other girls).
Or call a recommended Taxi who speaks English. Taxi list here
KK to Ranau – (side trip to poring hot springs and Kinabalu Park) then on to Sandakan or Semporna
KK to Sandakan ( side trip to Kinabatangan to see Wildlife and trip to Sepilok to see Orang Utans) then bus to Semporna
KK to Semporna (Night bus bus departs KK 7:30 arrives 0430 – 0600 dependant on company, speed and stops by the driver)
Take warm clothes, blanket and neck pillow. Buses have toilet and stop around midnight for toilets, food & drink
When you arrive the easiest is to get local taxi -( no signs – private cars – drivers will ask if you want transport) to the Celebes Resort Office, no 8 New Tourist Jetty, Bangau Bangau, Jalan Hospital. It will cost rm10. The jetty is covered, has security & toilets and you can lie on the floor and sleep for an hour or two. It takes 5-10 min to walk back to town. Out the jetty gate take 2nd left and at roundabout turn left into town (you can see the mosque).
If you are coming to Pom Pom make sure we know and we will make sure that your arrival matches up with a boat.
REMEMBER – TRACC works with the Celebes Beach Resort on Pom Pom Island. NOT the Sipadan Pom Pom Resort which is on the same island.