Overlooking the Celebes Sea, Tawau is a serene coastal getaway with excellent scuba diving opportunities and a charming old-world atmosphere. Explore historic waterfront landmarks, a cocoa museum and vibrant markets filled with friendly locals.
Things to do in Tawau
If you’re visiting Tawau for scuba diving, organise an excursion to Roach Reefs or take the one-hour drive to Semporna, which boasts a number of offshore islands. These are perfect for capturing unique marine life in crystal-clear waters, including mimic octopuses, cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopuses and ghost pipefish. There are a couple of popular dive schools where beginners can get their certifications, or you can stick to snorkelling.
Want to explore the history of cocoa in Malaysia? Head to Teck Guan Cocoa Village, where you can take guided tours around a cocoa processing plant and explore a museum with exhibits on the history of cocoa production. Don’t forget to grab your free samples of delicious chocolate.
If you’re hanging around the waterfront, you’ll encounter a number of enticing restaurants. Dreamland Coffee House is perfect for a light meal and freshly-roasted coffee, while 101 Seafood dishes up sumptuous fish and crustaceans in a relaxed alfresco setting. If you want to purchase food to cook up at your accommodation, duck into Tanjung Market, which boasts a collection of stalls selling fresh produce, spices and fruits.
The greater Tawau region encompasses kilometres of untouched wilderness best seen on a leisurely drive along the Jln Nabawan-Kalabakan road. You’ll drive through verdant rainforests and past babbling rivers, or you can keep driving all the way to the Maliau Basin Conservation Area to see cascading waterfalls.
Getting around Tawau
Tawau is linked to many Malaysian cities via flights from Tawau Airport, about 35 minutes’ drive from the town centre. You can get around by using the local bus and taxis services or by driving your own car.