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“Fantastic place to see turtles” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Lankayan Island Dive Resort

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
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3.0 of 5 Resort   |   Lankayan Island, Sandakan, Malaysia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 29 Hotels in Sandakan
Sydney, Australia
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Fantastic place to see turtles”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

Although this is primarily a dive resort, we found plenty to do without diving. We snorkelled, swam, bird watched, wandered round the island and got involved in all the turtle activity. This was a wonderful place for turtles, with a hawksbill turtle laying her eggs on the beach one day and baby green turtles hatching the next. We could also see turtles in the sea and the babies would swim in the shallow waters round the restaurant, along with baby sharks and other nursery fish, in the evenings. The resort itself is lovely, the food is excellent and the rooms airy and comfy. You can walk straight out of your chalet into the sea. We went on a snorkelling trip which was good and saw quite a few different bird species on the island, including nicobar pigeons and sunbirds. A very relaxing and beautiful place, recommended for wildlife enthusiasts.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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301 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
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London
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2013

We were on the island for four days, we could not believe how beautiful it was when we first arrived! There are around 25 chalets around the island, the chalets are all very nice and the bathroom is large and functional. They all have a large balcony just in font of the sea. There is a restaurant on stilts with amazing views all around. I completely loved the place!! Once, when swimming in front of our chalet, we saw a turtle and we were swimming with her. It really is an amazing and peaceful place to relax. Yes the boat trip to get there takes one hour and a half and it is a bit bumpy...but it really does not matter!
The food was very good and the people in the resort lovely and helpful
I wish I were there!

Room Tip: I think all the chalets are really nice, mine was number 20 which was perfect!
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2013

We stayed on Lankayan Island as part of our Honeymoon tour of Sabah and cannot express how much we enjoyed our stay. We were on the Island for four days and it was paradise. The journey out to the Island is fairly lengthy, as has already been mentioned. It is worth remembering to top up your sun lotion before you set off as we each received a well tanned (slightly burnt if we are honest) arm (only one arm) by the end of the journey!

The beach huts are lovely. Walking out of your room and down to the tropical beach is lovely and the snorkelling right off the beach is lovely. By swimming closer to the restaurant building we managed to swim with three different juvenile green turtles. We were lucky enough to see two turtles laying their eggs and the release of four clutches of eggs while we were there.

The food was great. I was a big fan of the noodle dish served for breakfast. The diving was good. Not the clearest water I've been in but it was warm and the instructors were really good for novice divers. We had some great experiences.

I would completely recommend Lankayan Island Dive Resort as a a tropical paradise break. It was a wonderful part of our honeymoon

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Takamatsu, Japan
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

We spent 4 nigths and five days at Lankayan Island Resort recently. We are avid divers and we have dived at several resorts off the coasts of Sabah. We booked through a travel agent in Malaysia prior to our arrival.

Pick up time from our hotel at Sandakan was prompt. We were taken to Sandakan Yatch Club where we boarded a speedboat to the island. As mentioned by several reviewers, the ride was long (90 minutes) and pretty rough even in fine weather. I took seasick pills before embarking. Arrival at the resort was smooth. A dive guide welcomed us and gave us the necessary briefings. We had lunch, and prepared for the check out dive at the house reef. We like to do self dives at the house reefs of the resorts we visit. The house reef is mainly sandy bottom, with some artificial structures sunken to create space for corals and fish to come. For the remaining three days, we went for boat diving, coupled with self dives off the jetty. The dives are just ‘ordinary’, I’d say. Nothing much to shout about. We find the dive guides to be rather mechanical and not very ‘professional’. They give you a standard briefing each time, take you to the dive site, show you a few things, and then bring you back. I had asked to be shown frog fish, but for all the dives we did, we could not find any. Am not putting the blame on the the dive guides for this, of course. Anyway, we find the dive guides of many dive shops in Malaysia to be the same. They do not seem to be well informed of the marine life and such. Still, we did not let that situation prevent us from enjoying our dives.

The chalets are very well constructed. They use hard woods and the design of the room was very nice. All chalets are sea facing and we get to see the open Sulu Sea from our balcony.
Food was good and the variety was wide. However, like all resorts, the food and taste gets repetitive after the initial two or three days. All meals were set out in the main building which housed the restaurant and a rest area on the second floor. I particularly enjoy the wide spaces set out in the rest area. Very nice.

We checked-out on a day with stormy weather. Again I took seasick pills and I thought I could not make the over 100 minute-ride without vomiting. The return trip was so choppy and rough. Both my missus and I were soaked wet from sea water being thrown into the boat.

Would we go again? Probably not. First, the ride is too long and rough. Second, the boat diving is just ‘normal’. Third. The house reef (which is a priority for us) is rather dull, with little macro life.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2013

We found this little gem on google earth while perusing the east coast of Borneo. We noted it had bungalows and went on a mission to figure out how to get there.

We booked through Palau Sipadan Resort & Tours who were very helpful, there was delays between messages but on booking various remote Malaysia trips we have found it’s not unusual to wait a few days or a week for a response.

We were on our way home from the UK so flew to Sandakan via Singapore & Kota Kinabalu. We were picked up from the airport by friendly staff and taken to the where the boat was leaving from in Sandakan - about 15 mins drive. We had gotten an earlier flight to make sure we didnt "miss the boat" so waited around for about an hour before it was time to leave, not a bother other than we were excited to get to the island.
The boat while small was in good condition, I can understand how the ride in bad weather may not be very pleasant though we were lucky and had great calm weather. Its very daunting when you get to a point you can't see any land in any direction but then all of a sudden a little island oasis appears! As we got closer and closer our jaws dropped further and further in awe of the paradise we were approaching.

We were greeted by a group of friendly smiling staff and a fake orange juice and cool towel. Our bags were then whisked to our rooms and we were sent to the restaurant to check in and receive an island briefing of rules etc which are reasonable considering the island is a conservation area. There have been some negative comments in relation to this but it demonstrates they are serious about maintaining this beautiful island and its inhabitants and any decent person would respect that. It’s a very small part of your trip and makes sure that people can’t be ignorant of what you can or can’t do. Mind you all of this occurs while being totally gobsmacked at the beauty of the island and the magnificent over water restaurant!

All chalets are beachfront on the south east? side of the island with spectacular views just some with more or less palm trees directly in front of your deck. We were in 18, great distant from restaurant. Quaint chalets with everything you need for your relaxing beach holiday, great bathroom with hot/cold shower & bath, toilet, air con, safe, mozzie coils/nets (which we used a lot!), comfy bed. These rooms are not 5 star but I don’t want sterile when I go to tropical islands – I want beachy, relaxed with practical inclusions. Actually this is where I will comment to all the reviewers whinging about the accommodation or “that the waves crashing on the beach are sooo noisy”, you are in beach bungalow in the middle of the ocean on a tropical island!!! What do you expect! Stay away, I’m very happy to holiday here without you. :P

Our roof even leaked a little bit, straight on my head while was reading my book one night, haha, I pulled out my emergency poncho put it over our bed and kept on reading :). A small price to pay in heaven - we were there in the wet season the rain at night was pretty full on but was perfect during the day for most of our stay. We let them know the next day, I don’t know that they actually did anything about it though – the staff are very relaxed, but who wouldn’t be in those surroundings.

The food was good, I would rate it just above your favourite takeaways or casual restaurants. Any seafood dishes were excellent. Oooo and the fresh waffle for breakfast were awesome! If you have a sweet tooth – bring your own treats with you they don’t excel in desserts. You can buy icecreams though.

Wine is expensive; beer, soft drink was reasonably priced given the location. We had our own spirits, I don’t recall seeing any for sale at the bar.

The island is such a great size with not too many chalets, whenever we were swimming or lazing on the beach it was like no one else was there, you could sometimes look in either direction and not see anyone. Snorkelling was fantastic baby sharks, turtles, freaky little jawfish, amazingly fluorescent clams, bat fish, nudibranchs, clown fish, rays, angel fish, barracuda, cuttlefish, heaps of beautiful coloured tropical fish that I don’t know the names of yet! There was a fair bit of seaweed close to shore for swimming. Some other reviews mention about sealice – but I find wherever there is great coral and snorkelling there’s a bit of lice – you can always where a full stinger suit. We only did one off shore dive – which was great diving, I will just recommend that you are quite confident in your own skills to ensure you feel comfortable, on dive or snorkelling tours as there as guidance is very relaxed but not dangerous.

Highly recommend making use of the door tags for turtle hatching or nesting, we saw a few hatching of hundreds of gorgeous baby turtles – a wonderful experience. We even adopted two nests, and true to their word in January we received an update on the hatching with photos. Great idea!

Last but not least I have to mention the walk around the island doesn’t take too long because it was on that walk one morning we sat at the log on the beach then my boyfriend (now fiancé!) got down on one knee and proposed!! It couldn’t have been any more perfect! <3
We will be back, maybe for our honeymoon!

Room Tip: We found 18 to be a good spot, I doubt there's much difference other than the walk from the rest...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013 via mobile

we traveled with our 3 year old for three nights. It was a bumpy jet boat journey from SDK, 2 hours, depending on the weather.
White sand, 25 chalets, clean water for snorkeling and diving. There is even wifi in this middle of sea.
Everyday boat receives guests at 10am at a port in SDK and sends departing guests 7am leaving the island.
Although I felt sea sick on the jet boat journey I enjoyed our stay and so was my kid.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2013

Three of us arrived at this little piece of paradise after some energetic jungle walking and rustic accommodation elsewhere in Sabah, and we embraced it with open arms. It was pure magic. We were able to walk down the steps of our bungalow and into the water for good snorkelling. There was also great snorkelling over by the jetties, which we also tried. Our bungalow was on the interior of the island (not right near the jetty) and gave us protection from the sometimes fierce winds (I recommend this location). The bungalows easily accommodated the three of us, including mosquito nets for all of us. We appreciated the rustic decor, but really didn't spend much time inside.

The restaurant on the jetty is a beautiful setting, and so picturesque at night with the lights on the water. What a view to enjoy while eating at all times of the day. We saw several sea turtles, sharks and other marine life from the restaurant, and had some great relaxing times, as the chairs and furniture are very comfortable and conducive to reading and snoozing between meals. The food was all right, but not remarkable, as we had come to expect in Sabah.

We saw numerous turtle hatchings and releases, and never got bored with it. Make sure you set the flag by your bungalow door so they notify you when there's a hatching, if this interests you.

The boat trip out and back is rough. Interesting, though, to see all the fishing platforms in the middle of the sea. Could be a problem if you are prone to motion sickness, which none of us were.

We stayed 4 nights and we were sad to leave. I highly recommend this beautiful island.

Room Tip: The best bungalows are those on the interior of the island - not right near the jetty. You don't...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lankayan Island Dive Resort

Address: Lankayan Island, Sandakan, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 29 Hotels in Sandakan
Hotel Class:3 star — Lankayan Island Dive Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A jewel like tiny island in the Sulu Sea, an hour and a half boat rides north of Sandakan; Lankayan has been declared part of an immense Marine Protected Area to adopt the eco-tourism concept. Unpopulated and covered by thick tropical island vegetation on its topside, this peaceful, untouched little bit of paradise is ringed by an endless pure of white sandy beach, offering simply elegant and exquisite accommodation. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Lankayan Island Dive Hotel Sandakan
Lankayan Island Dive Sandakan
Lankayan Island Dive Resort Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

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