Kudat is located on the northern part of the state of Sabah, about 190 kilometers north of Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah state capital. On the west, it faces the South China Sea, and on the east the Sulu Sea. Geographically the city is located tt latitude 6°55’north, longitude 116°50’east.
The city was founded by A.H. Everett of the British North Borneo Company on December 7, 1881 to be the first capital of British North Borneo, due to its strategic geographic location. However, after being repeatedly raided by Bajau, Sulu and Illanun pirates, in 1883 the capital was shifted to the more secure port of Sandakan, on the east coast.
In the past Kudat is not a well known location for foreign visitors, however, there is a notable modern beach resort near the town, Kudat Golf & Marina Resort, which offer good foods and accommodation. The resort and the adjoining golf course was built on reclaimed land done in 70s by the then Chief Minister of Sabah Tun Dato Mustapha. The late Tun Mustapha was from Limau-limaun, across the bay from Kudat. The golf club is the oldest golf club in Borneo, Kudat Golf Club, founded in 1906, currently a 18 holes par 72 championship course. Other attractions include tours to nearby Rungus longhouses, where traditional brass gongs are made, and where honey is produced and to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the northernmost point on the island of Borneo.
During World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army built and maintained an air field here. The airfield was built by locals and forced labour from Java, Indonesia using coral stones as base. Many Indonesian died from disease and hunger. In 1945, B25 bombers of the United States Far East Air Force repeatedly bombed the air field and put it out of action. The current airfield operated by Malaysian Airport Berhad is built on part of the former military air field.