Berhala Island is an interesting and adventurous destination to sport climb. Isolated, secluded, and beautiful, the towering sun-burnt sandstone walls appear suddenly as your boatman motors around the vegetated west side of Berhala, to reveal the paradise on the other side. Arriving on a sandy beach, most of the routes start right there, up the huge sandstone walls. The rock quality varies from solid baked slab to vertical to chimney climbing, but overall quality is surprisingly good for being sandstone. However, I did break a few holds on steep routes.
Climbing is WAY too hot in the sun. Afternoon shade arrives around 1pm. You can swim until then. There are climbs back thru the jungle, 50m from the beach, but mosquito spray and coils are mandatory!
ESSENTIALS: Bring plenty of water, non-melting snacks, sunhat, matt to change your shoes on, etc., mosquito spray, Tivas to get out of the boat, swimsuit, and slings/bail biners (to TR or lower off (sometimes single bolts).
Note: Possible annoyance from local boys/fishermen (for female climbers), but the guys we met turned out to be friendly and non-aggressive, but be alert, you are at their mercy, so keep that in mind! Also remember coastal villages are Malay (Muslim). who's culture/religion may view/treat women differently than in the west.
Flights to Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu (KK) leave about 3x/day, from where a 20 minute shuttle takes you into town. We took a 6am flight, got the shuttle, had breakfast, walked down to the harbor, got supplies, hired a boat, and arrived on Berhala just in time for a swim before the shade arrived at 1pm. Hiring a boat wasn't too difficult from the fisherman wharf. Ask around, be patient but persistant. Its a 10 minute boat ride out to Berhala, so bargain accordingly. NOTE: There are no tourist services to the island, you must hire a villager or fisherman. So, to be cautious, we insisted to pay the boatman only 20% of the cost of the RT boat trip and the rest when he came back to pick us up! (there are no facilities on the island). The boatman was friendly, fair and gave us no trouble. (I wish Indonesia was so hassle free!)
4 Total Routes
['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',3],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
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