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“A great dive destination ...”

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Avillion Layang Layang
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Layang Layang
Riyadh
Level Contributor
41 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“A great dive destination ...”
Reviewed April 14, 2012

Diving ... having dived quite a lot in Indonesia and the Coral Sea (Australia) we were intitally disappointed by the coral which lacks colour and can be in poor condition in places. HOWEVER as we continued to dive we went to some great walls with excellent underwater vistas and some great healthy coral. We did 12 dives and saw reef sharks on pretty much every single one. We also saw turtles on almost every dive as well as a wide variety of large fish and balling Jacks etc - there are a lot of pretty big fish here. You do 3 dives a day in Layang Layang and it's really only the first dive that you are likley to see the Hammerheads - we saw them on 2 out of 4 mornings, firsly about 10 quite close up and this morning (yes there is internet here) a large group of 50+ but they were not really close ... still very worth it. We have also seen mantas along with lots of macro stuff (nudibranches, pygmy sea horses etc). In the mornings you will spend quite a lot of time a hanging around in the blue trying to sight the hammerheads which my 'twitcher' husband found slightly irritating but he's rather be rummaging around for the macro stuff. However pretty much all dives end with some time on the reef. Afternoon dives are generally wall dives with some great life to be seen. In summary, after our first couple of dives we thought we had a made a terrible mistake but now 12 dives later we are considering coming back! Everyone in the resort at the moment has seen hammerheads at least once and most people almost every day .... having said that, it's a big, deep ocean out there and you take your chances. Our dive guide, Faris, was great - friendly, caring and relaxed yet conscientious.

Resort ... free wifi (an unexpected bonus) a well stocked and reasonably priced bar (why does no-one ever mention this important stuff in their reviews;) They have a selection of reasonable wine (mostly Australian) in proper wine fridges for around $20-30 a bottle and Remy, the barman, makes some mean cocktails. Happy hour is 4 hours long and 30% off of everything ... you can't really argue with that. The food is ok (certainly not fine dining) but there is always a good variety and plenty of it. The rooms are ok in a 3* motel from the 1970's kind of way but since you'll hardly be in them it doesn't really matter. The pool is decent and the whole place is pretty relaxed. The staff are ALL really excellent ... incredibly friendly and helpful, they can't do enough for you and seem to really enjoy working here.

We have had a great time and had some really good diving .. I guess if we hadn't seen hammerheads it would have been incredibly disappointing but you take your chances with wildlife and the rest of the diving was, for the most part, really very good.

Would we come back? We're already trying to persuade our friends to join us on a trip next year :)

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank RiyadhAlfi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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110 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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See reviews for
4
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (25)
Date | Rating
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English first
Guernsey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
53 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

The resort is, in essence, an air strip with a naval base at one end and a dive hotel at the other. I say dive hotel because it is a hotel whose facilities are designed for experienced divers - slightly better than you would experience on an average live aboard dive holiday but nothing special. For a non-diver the rooms and the food would appear below average, but if you are visiting somewhere just for the diving, frankly the quality of the showers or variety of food is low down on your priority list.

Therefore the resort lives or dies by its diving, and here I was not impressed. Whilst about 50% of people at the resort in the week I was there saw hammerheads, 50% didn't. I am told that hammerheads used to be pretty much guaranteed, but the relentless plundering of the area to satisfy the rapacious Chinese appetite for shark fin soup has diminished the population to a fraction of its previous level. However, where the diving really falls short of other areas in South East Asia, such as Sipadan or Komodo is the quality of the diving other than or hammerheads. The reefs are generally healthy but the amount of fish, shrimp, nudibranchs, turtles etc. are well below other places.

If you're a diver whose not been to Komodo, Sipadan, Palau or other out of the way places in Asia, go there first. If you want to then tick off Layang Layang afterwards, come with modest expectations and you'll have a reasonable time.

On the plus side, the staff were excellent, both in the hotel and the dive staff, and the dive equipment was very new and of a good standard.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank millergeoff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
66 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed April 6, 2012

All here is obviously suited for divers - 3 dives a day (8am, 11am and 3pm). All organised and flawless in execution of all related to your diving...
Home of hammersharks, it also hosts from pygmee seahorses to nudibranches, scorpion fishes, shrimps and lobsters if you re into micro, but also mantas, barracudas, mantas, mobulas, dogtooth, etc if you re into bigger ones. Self sufficient ecosystem basically.
Dive masters are very experienced (highly recommend Christy if you can have him) - but still only come here if you re an experienced diver as several dives go to 30-40m to spot hammerheads.
Second trip here for us in 9 months, we ll prob come back again to swim with hammerheads...

  • Stayed April 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Hypersphere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
singapore
Level Contributor
27 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed March 29, 2012

Given that there is only one place to stay on Layang Layang, and the resort is certainly over 15 years old, and everything has to be shipped or flown in as it is in the middle of nowhere, Avillon can certainly not be accused of being complacent in any way and is much better than I could have expected. Sure, things are a bit dated and the bathrooms are basic, but the place is clean. This is a dive resort, and there certainly are many which are not as clean and comfortable in this category. Part of the charm for me is that this place does not pretend to be more than it is. Housekeeping provides a nice touch by folding towels into the shape of mantas and hammerheads and leave handwritten notes! Food is excellent and varied, given the limitations of supplies - not a place for those who are very fussy. The staff are all extremely cheerful and helpful and really make the place. The restaurant staff spent much of Saturday afternoon setting up and preparing a fantastic barbecue dinner. The dive center is well run and the dive masters are excellent. The two dive masters who accompanied our group, Band and Rozlan, and boatman Saiful were knowledgable, pointed out interesting fish and other creatures and were quick to help or check if we were ok if they perceived a problem. They were also good at finding dolphins on the way to or from the dive sites. The pool was a big hit with our children between dives. My only suggestion for improvement would be to get rid of the carpet in the rooms as it is not practical and difficult to keep clean and dry. It should also be noted that there are no beaches on Layang Layang and little to do for non divers - just pool and bird sanctuary and maybe some snorkeling. This place was built as a dive resort and it serves that purpose very well. We will definitely be returning to try our luck at spotting
hammerheads! Thanks to all the staff who made us feel so welcome and at home, starting from the man who met us at KK airport and guided us through check in.

  • Stayed March 2012
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Helpful?
1 Thank hawksbill2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2012

This was our first diving trip to Malaysia - our most Easterly dives so far have been in Thailand so we were very pleased with the diving. We saw lots of reef fish that were new to us as well as the main attraction - Hammerheads. We stayed on the island for 5 days and saw Hammerheads on the first dive of the second day. We also saw schools of Devil rays, Mantas, White tip reef sharks and turtles as well as rarer animals such as Pigmy Seahorses, leaf fish and a Ghost Pipe fish. One of the many highlights were the number of large schools of Jacks, Batfish and Barracuda. Quite a lot of other divers we spoke to seemed dissapointed with the diving - we have dived in many parts of the world and have over a thousand logged dives between us and we thought it was very good. I agree with the reviewer who said it was about managing expectations. The fish are there but you cannot guarantee seeing them.

The coral was mainly very good although there were areas that had been damaged by a Crown of Thorns attack a couple of years ago. Some areas were incredibly good.

I can understand what some of the reviews have said about the dive guides - they do have their own style but they are passionate about the area and the wild life. Our guide Amanda made sure that we all saw everything. The diving is well organised - it has to be because of the numbers of divers and boats departing from the jetty at least 3 times a day. The first dive of the day had a 15 minute trip into the blue to look for Hammerheads which I think was about the right time to spend out of the two and a quarter hours of diving each day for the chance of a sighting.

The food is good and there is plenty of it. There is nothing like diving for giving you an appetite. Having said that it was a bit repetitious. We were surprised that there was no fresh fish served.

The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and did everything they could to make the holiday enjoyable. The room staff kept the room clean and tidy and entertained us with the towel folding although as other reviewers have pointed out the rooms are in urgent need of refurbishment. The pool area is very good and there are plenty of sunbeds and also shady areas. On the day before we flew out, after we had finished diving, the boat took us to the bird island, not to be missed, lots of chicks being fed and many seabirds. We will love to return, we enjoyed the island and diving and made lots of new friends.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank seamoon24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
little red dot
Level Contributor
28 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed November 3, 2011

Let's start with the food....pretty good overall...they make an effort for every meal to include western n Asian dishes n desserts...cakes at tea time.....very well fed inbetween dives mmmm...but I still prefer sipadan kapalai's food personally....the dive master was good...not so crowded at dive sites n on boats..mostly every dive we spent time in the deep blue hanging around n hoping for the main attractions....we finally did get lucky n just a few of us spotted a school of hammers...but it was only for a brief second or so...a swordfish came to check us out too...

Rooms wise, it's kind of dated n old fashioned with dim lighting...the housekeepers all young guys were really sweet though n i had a towel origami on my bed daily..turtle, manta, hammers ;-p plus a handwritten goodbye note on my last day, beat that !! And there's nothing much to do on the island except to stroll along the runway in the evenings or go for a swim in the pool...overall this place is really expensive for what u get..but seeing the hammers is purely by luck, if I didn't see any hammers it wouldn't be worth the cost..sipadan is cheaper n more stuff to see...but if u are lucky, then heck yes it's worth it ;-p

  • Stayed April 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank bladerbabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rio
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
Reviewed September 12, 2011

There's no doubt about it, Layang Layang has some very good diving. Visibility is exceptional and the abundance of coral and reef fish is quite superb. However, I went there for large pelagics and apart from two very brief grey reef sharks they were few and far between. To be fair I wasn't there in the best season (August) so will leave it to others to judge it on this score. Overall though I was happy with what I saw and can recommend it to others. On a logistical note, rooms are very comfortable, diving is prompt and well organised, food is regular and plentiful (if a little unvaried), hire gear is in a good state of repair and the dive guides know what they're doing.

All very good you may think, however, and it's a big however, you'll only get 12 dives in a 6 day / 5 night stay and it isn't cheap. This is all due to the fact that you've got no choice but to fly out to the island (good fun if you get the tiny twin prop' rather than the larger plane), limiting diving at the end of your stay.

In summary, if you've got the money and want some nice diving in very clear waters then go for it - if you're not put off at the limited number of dives you'll enjoy it. I did!

Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
Helpful?
3 Thank Leono
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Avillion Layang Layang

Property: Avillion Layang Layang
Address: Layang Layang 88005, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Layang Layang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Layang Layang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Avillion Layang Layang 3*
Number of rooms: 86
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd is an exclusive resort that dominates the Layang Layang island - an oceanic atoll of Spratly Islands situated approximately 300km northwest of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. Fondly known as "The Jewel of the Borneo Banks," it is truly a diver's paradise. As many as 14 coral reefs have formed here, creating a breathtaking underwater scenery. The dive sites are well known for the intriguing hammerhead sharks and pygmy seahorses among other rare creatures. An hour's flight north of Kota Kinabalu, the island on which Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd nestles lies in 2,000 m of ocean and, due partly to the depth, this atoll has become famous for sightings of large pelagic species and for wall diving. Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd is the only resort on the island besides a Royal Malaysia Navy base. The resort, designed to look like the traditional Long House, comprises 86 cosy rooms, restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool, dive center with certified diving instructors and a variety of diving courses among other facilities for modern comforts. Come for the exclusive and intriguing diving experience at this remote destination out of the world, where rare and uncommon underwater creatures await you! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Avillion Layang Layang Island Hotel Layang Layang
Layang Island Hotel

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