Lankayan is a resort that has its pros and cons. The pros first: It is set very idyllic, with nice bungalow style accomodation, white beaches, turquoise water, and scenic boardwalks across to the main bldg and dive center. Diving is good around the island, it is all boat diving, and you see small stuff as well as huge swarms of fish, "tame" cuttlefishes, and also large sharks and turtles. You can pre-book dive packages, or "pay per dive", that's 100 MYR, which is pretty good. Even if you are the world's best diver, you still have to do a "check dive" near the jetty, which is not very eventful and on the murky side. As you will arrive around 11.30, this dive will be at 14.30 or so on that day, making it the only dive on that day (there was no "dusk dive" or night dive on offer when I visited).
The island features as a sea turtle sanctuary, rangers keep an eye on the grown females that come to the beaches to nest, care for the eggs in hatcheries, and release the baby turtles into the sea (very cute). If you want and the turtles are up to it, you can witness both happenings (we saw both during 4 days in May). There's also a small exhibition about the turtle thing at the ranger's station.
Unfortunately, there are downsides that just dont qualify the place to be "5-star" (with the prices to prove it). Firstly, the once daily boat transfer is mindless: It takes leaving guests from the island back to Sandakan Yacht Club at 7 am, meaning you have to get up extremely early - for what??, and takes new guests over at 10 am. This means you won't be able to travel (most probably from KL) to Sandakan and over to the island on the same morning, you are forced to arrive the day before and spend a night in Sandakan (tip: stay at the very nice NAK Hotel!). Why dont they do the (pretty rough) transfer 2 hours later, the baffled guest wonders?!
Pretty mediocre meals are served in the main bldg only, buffet style only. You are only allowed to enter dry and in "adequate attire", meaning you won't be able to get a quick drink after a swim, because there's no pool (!!), no pool bar (or any other bar) whatsoever. The drinks menu is also very limited, there's only beer, wine and softs. Sorry, no cocktails... and also no snacks on sale (except Pringles), and no proper coffee as there's no professional coffee machine for Capucchinos and such.
To enter the water from the boardwalk, you can only do that from the very end at the dive center. Swimming at the beach might not be as easy as there are tides.
Because of those, mindless resort workers remove the heavy, wooden sunbeds from the lower beach so they wont get wet (ok), and pull them way under the porches, where they get entangled in underbrush and get jammed with each other (NOT ok). If you try to get them out of there again unprotected and bare-footed, keep your first aid kit handy.
There's also no spa, so forget about relaxing massages.
So you see, there are a lot of things that should be there but aren't. If you dont spend your day diving, I'm not sure what you do (bring a book, or your Playstation...). The three kayaks (for rent, not included) were broken/unusable when we visited and it seems to be a major naval effort to get them sea-going again.
It takes about 20 min to circumnavigate the island, so you won't be able to spend the day with long, exploring "beach walks".
There was also some (quiet) construction going on, but that was not really bothersome.
WiFi is on the slow side, only in the main bldg and it seems that it has to be rebooted regularly.
Some tips if you are going:
- Buy your own booze (especially wine and spirits) and snacks before you leave Sandakan. There are (empty) mini fridges in the rooms.
- There are about 25 bungalows, try to get those with the lower/single digit numbers, they are newer/renovated, and closer to the main bldgs. We can recommend no. 5, 6, 7.
- Don't count on proper aircon. There are A/Cs, but they are not powerful enough to cool the bungalows down distinctly. But there are fans.
- On first (and 2nd) sight, the place seems to be run by kids only. If there's an issue, insist on speaking to proper management. There's one older guy in charge, I don't remember his name, something like "Horatius"?!
There are about 25 bungalows, try to get those with the lower/single digit numbers, they are newer/r...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.