The Lost Girls in Borneo

The Lost Girls travel to Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia, for some of the world's best scuba diving and rarest wildlife.

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Jacques Cousteau put Sipadan on map with his film Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle (1989): “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now, no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art…” 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem off the island of Sipadan. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Channeling Charlie’s Angels, Jen, Holly and Amanda get pumped for their underwater adventure. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Always be respectful of the underwater world. One of the most amazing feelings is to be able to swim alongside a Barricuda or see a shark up close. But you have to remember that you are in their world now, and to not touch the fish you see, you don’t want to hurt yourself or the wildlife.” -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

If you plan to dive off Sipadan, stay in the handful of dive resorts in Mabul. Tourists are not allowed to sleep on the protected island of Sipadan, and the government allows only 120 passes to the island a day (which you should secure prior to traveling from a dive resort). 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The Lost Girls dove with Borneo Divers, the original operators for the region who first introduced ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau to Sipadan, which then turned the area into a world-famous diving destination. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

When diving Sipadan, you’ll see turtles everywhere, dining on the sponges and algae, or lounging on the wall ledges. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The camouflaged crocodilefish found hiding in Sipadan waters is much tamer than its lookalike reptile. 960 1280

  

The best-known snorkeling and dive islands are Mabul and Sipadan, located at the southern end of the archipelago. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Sipadan draws divers from across the globe, with famous dive sites such as Barracuda Point where you can swim alongside a school of circling barracuda in a tornado-like formation. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“The second I took that giant stride from the boat into the water, descended down to about 30 feet, I looked up and saw the entire sky above me. It was this incredible, open, free feeling of floating in the water. “ -- Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Scuba diving for me, no matter where I go and how I dive, is always a new experience.” -- Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“I live so much of my life in automatic pilot, and I love that diving puts you in that mindful mode, like yoga, where you focus on your breathing -- you’re living totally in the moment. “ -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“With any sport, scuba diving takes practice. If you are interested in learning to dive, I recommend what I did a few years ago. I fully immersed myself in diving by going to an all-inclusive dive resort, which helps you to hone your skills and be more comfortable as a diver. “ – Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“No matter where you go in the world, you’ll always find other people who love scuba diving, too. It’s like a secret club that you will be a part of the second you get your scuba certification. If you go to Borneo or Mexico or anywhere in the world where there’s great scuba diving, you’ll find this incredible group of people to share the experience with.” – Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Packing proved to be a challenge for our Borneo trip, as we’d be away for roughly three weeks and doing everything from diving off the island of Sipadan to climbing to the top of Mount Kinabalu. Moreover, we didn’t want to risk losing checked luggage with three long flights, a few bumpy bus rides, and a boat journey, so we had to fit everything into a carry-on. 960 1280

  

Rolling Luggage

Rolling Luggage

No longer twenty-something backpackers, we want luggage that is compact, stylish, and that can also roll. We’re big fans of Eagle Creek’s line of travel accessories, so we opted for the Switchback Max 22. rolling convertible backpack.
The red clay color stands out from the sea of black bags at the airport, and it even has a zip-off backpack complete with laptop sleeve (we couldn’t leave behind our iPads and Kindles!).
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An Organizational System

An Organizational System

Holly tested out the Hoboroll, an organizer with five compartments that has drawstring end closures and compression straps to minimize bulk. “It saved me from having to dig around my luggage for my clothes, separated dirty garments from clean, and could even be used as a pillow on the plane!” says Holly.
There’s also a tool loop making it possible for hikers to clip onto their daypacks, and for minimalists to use as their main bag.
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The Travel Bible

The Travel Bible

We believe that getting lost is the best way to explore a new place, but we still like to read up on our destination by studying Lonely Planet guidebooks on the plane. When traveling to Borneo, we opted for the Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Lonely Planet rather than the Borneo Lonely Planet edition because it’s been updated more recently. 960 1280

  

Foot Protection for Water Sports

Foot Protection for Water Sports

Jen is an adrenaline junkie who is all about comfort, so she loves protecting her feet while walking on the beach by wearing Sockwas. The Sockwa G series is made from space-age polymers for the most tactile walking experience, and Jen discovered that they’re also thin enough to wear with fins while diving to ward of blisters caused by friction. Plus, they take up no space in your carryon. 960 1280

  

Fog-Free Masks

Fog-Free Masks

Amanda suggests stocking up on anti-fog solution before any dive trip to clean your mask, because a cloudy mask makes it tough to enjoy the underwater world. We like Aqua Sphere’s anti-fog drops, as well as their Kaiman ladies goggles (with anti-fog and scratch-resistant lenses and straps that don’t leave marks on your face) for doing laps in the ocean or a pool. Holly couldn’t resist swimming in the gorgeous blue waters off of the island Mabul. 960 1280

  

Lightweight Sneakers

Lightweight Sneakers

Traditional running shoes are bulky, making them cumbersome for travel. For this trip she packed Altra’s Zero Drop Eve shoes, which weigh a mere 4.5 ounces. Designed for athletes looking to transition into barefoot running, they’re an excellent choice for adventure trips because they’re so versatile. Holly wore the shoes on the dive boat, hiking in Bako National Park, running on the beach in Mabul, at a hotel gym, and even with a sundress. 960 1280

  

Stylish Workout Clothes

Stylish Workout Clothes

We needed to pack some comfortable and cute athletic clothing that could also multitask for both airport apparel and adventure outings. Enter Electric Yoga gear. While hiking Mount Kinabalu, a hardcore, two-day climb that led us above the clouds, Amanda and Jen wore the seamless racerback tanks, which are snug-fitting without cutting into your shoulders, making them uber comfortable and ideal for layering. 960 1280

  

A Supportive Sports Bra

A Supportive Sports Bra

No need to accept the pancake-boob fate when looking for a sports bra that will keep your breasts from bouncing, whether you’re hiking a mountain or running on the beach. The best bra we’ve found for providing both a flattering fit and ample support is the Ta Ta Tamer from Lululemon. It’s pricy at about $58, but it may do such a good job of shaping your chest that you’ll actually want to swap it for your typical underwire bra when on the road. 960 1280

  

Versatile Outfits

Versatile Outfits

It never fails: No matter how many different outfits we pack, we typically end up wearing one the most. Holly’s go-to outfit on this trip was Athleta’s draped tunic dress. Flattering and sporty, the fabric is wrinkle resistant and wicks away sweat. She’d wear it for a day on the beach or exploring the tiny fishing villages of Mabul, and dress it up with gold hoops for evenings out. 960 1280

  

Multitasking Makeup

Multitasking Makeup

While not all female travelers consider cosmetics a toiletry basic, Holly (the Lost Girls beauty buff) swears by multitasking products that let you look polished without taking up a lot of space in your bag. Her new favorite product is Oxygentics Oxygenating Foundation because it acts as a foundation, moisturizer, and sunscreen all in one, and is healthier for your skin than wearing no makeup at all thanks to special peptide ingredients to boost healing oxygen. You can even wear it swimming in the ocean because it’s waterproof for up to 90 minutes. 960 1280

  

Brightening Facial Cleanser

Brightening Facial Cleanser

Travel can do a number on your complexion because dry airplane air and humid weather can cause flaky skin and clogged pores. Exfoliate dead skin cells to ward off breakouts while helping to reverse sun damage with a brightening cleanser. MyChelle Dermaceuticals Apple Brightening Cleanser is sulfate free, comes in an easily-portable 2.1 ounce bottle, and has natural fruit acids and powerful antioxidants to shield skin from free radical damage. 960 1280

  

Antibacterial Protection

Antibacterial Protection

Amanda is the group’s self-proclaimed hypochondriac, but you don’t have to be hyper vigilant about germs to know that it’s a good idea to arm yourself with anti-bacterial sprays and wipes when traveling—especially in places like Borneo where some bathrooms don’t have toilet paper or even running water. We like CleanWell To-Go disinfectant sprays and wipes because they have natural ingredients and are easy to tuck into your purse. 960 1280

Jeff Alexander  

Photos

Jacques Cousteau put Sipadan on map with his film Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle (1989): “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now, no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art…” 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem off the island of Sipadan. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Channeling Charlie’s Angels, Jen, Holly and Amanda get pumped for their underwater adventure. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Always be respectful of the underwater world. One of the most amazing feelings is to be able to swim alongside a Barricuda or see a shark up close. But you have to remember that you are in their world now, and to not touch the fish you see, you don’t want to hurt yourself or the wildlife.” -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

If you plan to dive off Sipadan, stay in the handful of dive resorts in Mabul. Tourists are not allowed to sleep on the protected island of Sipadan, and the government allows only 120 passes to the island a day (which you should secure prior to traveling from a dive resort). 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The Lost Girls dove with Borneo Divers, the original operators for the region who first introduced ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau to Sipadan, which then turned the area into a world-famous diving destination. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

When diving Sipadan, you’ll see turtles everywhere, dining on the sponges and algae, or lounging on the wall ledges. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The camouflaged crocodilefish found hiding in Sipadan waters is much tamer than its lookalike reptile. 960 1280

  

The best-known snorkeling and dive islands are Mabul and Sipadan, located at the southern end of the archipelago. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Sipadan draws divers from across the globe, with famous dive sites such as Barracuda Point where you can swim alongside a school of circling barracuda in a tornado-like formation. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“The second I took that giant stride from the boat into the water, descended down to about 30 feet, I looked up and saw the entire sky above me. It was this incredible, open, free feeling of floating in the water. “ -- Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Scuba diving for me, no matter where I go and how I dive, is always a new experience.” -- Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“I live so much of my life in automatic pilot, and I love that diving puts you in that mindful mode, like yoga, where you focus on your breathing -- you’re living totally in the moment. “ -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“With any sport, scuba diving takes practice. If you are interested in learning to dive, I recommend what I did a few years ago. I fully immersed myself in diving by going to an all-inclusive dive resort, which helps you to hone your skills and be more comfortable as a diver. “ – Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“No matter where you go in the world, you’ll always find other people who love scuba diving, too. It’s like a secret club that you will be a part of the second you get your scuba certification. If you go to Borneo or Mexico or anywhere in the world where there’s great scuba diving, you’ll find this incredible group of people to share the experience with.” – Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  


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