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“Perfect honeymoon location”

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 32 Hotels in Sandakan
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Perfect honeymoon location”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 23, 2011

We were lucky enough to stay here as part of our honeymoon and it was definitely a highlight. The boat picked us up from Sandakan and whisked us across the water taking about 90 minutes to get to the island.

As we walked up the jetty across the clear turquoise water toa palm fringed beachwear knew we'd made a great decision to come here. A lovely welcome,a few rules (it is a turtle nesting site) and we were shown to our beach side hut. Well more of a perfect haven. A balcony 2 metres from the water's edge, a four poster bed with beautiful curtains and flowers and petals to welcome us. The bath room was lovely with a massive rain shower.

The island takes about 15 minutes to walk around, at high tide you have to duck under or step over palm trees. You can watch the small reef sharks patrolling the water's edge and the egrets catching small fish. And go to the western point of the island to watch spectacular sunsets (with no one else around).

I dived but my wife did not. The equipment was pretty good, certainly well maintained and mainly less than a season old. I was given a refresher by the dive master to regain my confidence after a few years not diving, but this is not a resort with training facilities. The 6 dives I took were all within 10 minutes ride in the boat and were different every time. A couple of wrecks at 22m and a variety of reefs from 18 up to 5 metres.

We saw turtles, a leopard shark, several reef sharks, large lobsters, small rays, a grouper and a good range of smaller reef fish. The reefs here seemed to be in fairly good health - but I am no expert.

The other highlight is of course the fact that the island has nesting turtles visiting. We were lucky enough to see both a release of babies and a massive green hornbill laying eggs. The island collect the eggs so they can ensure more are hatched which meant there were 4 or 5 staff as well as 8 of us watching this beautiful creature lay her eggs. I have to say if felt like I was intruding.

Overall a perfect three nights which we should have planned for five.

Highly recommended

  • Stayed April 2011
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Thank Bulhead68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Sheffiled
Level Contributor
18 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2011

Lankayan Island

Our trip was organised by Audley in the UK. We stayed for seven nights between 13th and 19th September 2011,

Our transfer to Lankayan left Sandakan harbour around 10:00am, so we stayed the night before in the Swiss Inn Waterfront Hotel nearby (about 5 min drive away)

We were met at the harbour by Lankayan Resort staff and our luggage was put onto the speedboat – this was a comfortable twin engine speedboat with lifejackets. Seats were padded benches down each side and were comfortable. The transfer time was around 90 minutes. Although the speedboat is covered, one tip is to keep a small bottle of water and sunscreen with you – the sun shines into the boat.

We arrived at the jetty and the staff unloaded the luggage. We were shown to the restaurant with welcome smile and a cold drink. We had to fill in paperwork and for those diving; we had to show diving qualifications. We booked a ‘non-diving’ package, but took all our own kit except regulators, which we hired.

We were given a briefing about the rules of the island (e.g. no wandering around the beach after 7:00pm because it disturbs nesting turtles), meal times, and the diving procedures. Those wishing to dive were invited to join an ‘orientation’ dive that afternoon. The majority of guests were English speakers.

We were initially allocated a room overlooking the jetty and construction site of the new restaurant, which were not happy with. We asked if other rooms were available, and the receptionist showed us two further rooms - we took room 18 which had an unobstructed view of the sea and a couple of steps to the beach.

The construction of the new restaurant on the lagoon did not disturb us in any way.

The room was quite big, and had en-suite facilities, complimentary toiletries, kettle, tea & coffee, fridge, air conditioning, and a ceiling fan. The room is very high, and the windows were locked open with insect screens, so the air conditioning was trying to cool the whole world! We asked if the resort had a floor standing fan and were told we could have the one in Reception. Fantastic! However the fan was delivered to our original room and took a day or two to recover. Luckily everyone (including us) thought it hilarious and became a bit of a running joke all week. Our private wooden sun loungers on the beach had mattresses, and beach towels were provided in the room.

There is a shallow (less than 1m deep) sandy lagoon within a few metres of the room, and a few sizeable patches of coral a little further out. There was a lot of fish and turtles in the lagoon, so for those wanting to snorkel it is quite safe and entertaining. The water temperature was 32deg C – warmer than a British indoor swimming pool. We would suggest wearing Crocs or wet suit boots because there is broken coral on the beach and in the lagoon in places.

We did the orientation dive on the first afternoon. We hired regulators - one had a mouthpiece which did not suit my Partner, and it was quickly changed to one she liked without any fuss. The check dive was off the jetty in the dive school and is always useful to get weighting right etc. Our only issue was the group we were with did not seem to be able to control their buoyancy and kicked a lot of sand up, creating very poor viz. If you are going on a diving holiday, please, please, get in the pool and practice your buoyancy skills a few weeks before you go! The resort has constructed an artificial reef ‘skeleton’ and sunk a couple of small boats. The soft corals are growing, as are hard corals, and there is an astonishing number of fish living on it. We found around a dozen lionfish. Water temperature was 30 deg C at 20m.

A few words about food etc in the resort. Remember all food, every litre of water, fuel for boats and the generator, loo rolls; EVERYTHING has to be shipped in. I imagine it is a logistics nightmare for the staff. Saying that, breakfasts had a (limited) selection of cereals, toast and eggs cooked however you want, cold cuts, fruit, plus noodles and other Malaysian food. It was simple food, but quite satisfying. Water, juice and tea and coffee are available all day. Lunches and evening meals were similar – buffet style freshly cooked delicious Chinese food, as well as more recognisable European / American foods – roast chicken, roast beef etc. We tasted most of the foods on offer, and, although some were simply not to our taste, they were well cooked and nicely presented. If food ran out, it was topped up within a few minutes. It was amazing what they provided considering it had all been shipped in.

We did not need to use any insect repellent. Remember to take sunscreen with you from home– there is a small shop, but I did not see any sunscreen, and we found sunscreen hard to find and expensive in Sandakan.

The wooden buildings are built on wooden stilts with a timber walkway connecting most of the chalets – this gets very slippery after rain, but there is a handrail to hang onto. It is possible to walk round the island in about ten minutes. The beach is sandy and quite natural with the forest growing almost to the waters edge in places.

The highlight of the island on land is the turtle conservation programme. There is a Ranger station just off the jetty. The local seas are a ‘no take’ zone and the seas are monitored 24/7 by radar for illegal fishing boats. The Reef Guardian has armed police officers who will challenge any fishing in the area, so they are very serious about it. The Reef Guardian patrols the beach all night for nesting turtles – you can be woken up if you wish to watch. The eggs in the nest are dug up and transferred to a fenced hatchery area. Turtles hatch in around 60 days, and we were fortunate to be involved in a number of hatchling releases, and saw a turtle nesting on our first night. We were told that one night there had been ten ‘landings,. The Reef Guardians collect statistics and update the daily totals of eggs collected etc.’ All the staff seem keen environmentalists, and we joined in a beach cleanup late one afternoon with the staff.

Overall, the dive school is well run, and well organised. The dive staff were helpful and friendly and spoke pretty good English. Our dive guide for most dives was Neville – a very knowledgeable young man with a pretty decent command of English. The dive sites around Lankayan are around the best we have dived – we have dived lots of sites in the Caribbean, Mexico, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Europe and Sipidan (Borneo), and these have got to be ranked with the best. Dives was about 5 minutes boat ride away, and most were around 15m- 20m deep. We did not have stunning viz at depth, due to a lot of plankton in the water, but at around 8m the viz was 30m or so, with untouched, pristine coral gardens and large shoals of all the usual reef suspects. The dive crew were more than happy to carry kit for my Partner because of her back problem.

The staff as a whole were friendly, spoke pretty acceptable English, and the site seems to run very efficiently and as a team. The Resort Supervisor, a very well organised and efficient young lady called Sheng, and her Manager, Shah, spoke good English and, even though they were very busy at times, was happy to stop and talk.

In conclusion, this was a resort we really felt at home in, and quite frankly did not want to leave.

We left at 7:00am on our checkout day, and were touched that most of the dive school staff and Shah and Sheng turned up to wave us goodbye.

We will be back !!!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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4 Thank geordiediver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh
Level Contributor
90 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 23, 2011

Lankayan is a beautiful, remote, dream island with warm blue seas, wonderful corals and nothing much to do but dive, snorkel, turtle watch and chill. There are currently only 22 chalets which means visitor numbers are limited (a bonus) and the pace of the place is slow.

The island is tiny and it only takes about 15 mins to walk round it along the beach. there is nothing more to it than the chalets, the central dining area, the dive centre and the staff accommodation. For some this is heaven, for others, it could be hell.

The chalets are large and comfortable with en-suite, fans, fridges, safes and comfortable beds. They all have decks, hammocks and sun beds on their own bit of beach. They are a bit on
the dark side, which is a shame. All chalets are right on the beach, which means metres from the sea and for me at least, this meant falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves.

All food is buffet style, mostly Asian, but of a pretty good quality. Meal times are fixed but people tend to be there early!

On to the diving. I have read so many reviews of Lankayan that say the diving is poor, the dive guides are less than enthusiastic and the vis is poor. Not true.
The diving is very good. Visibility below 20m is not great but above 10m is very good. The
corals are in amazing condition - I think some of the best I have seen in recent years. Fish are not as extensive as elsewhere in the area but the macro stuff is great and we regularly saw turtles, sharks, rays (in huge numbers) on every dive. Even an out of season leopard shark sleeping at the bottom of the line on one dive.

The guides are mixed, but build relationships and you get the returns. There is no question that Neville was the best guide we had while there. Passionate, great fun and full of knowledge.

Of all the people staying on the island, very few were diving, making it a treat with small dive groups. The artificial reef and house reef are included as unlimited dives within a dive package (as long as you have a buddy) and they are both good.

The diving is not Sipidan. But it is as good as Mabul/Kapalai in different ways. Not as great in macro diversity but really good diving with great reefs and definitely not to be missed on a dive trip to Sabah.

Bring in the emotional sight of a greenback turtle nesting and young turtles making the journey back to sea - a regular sight in the right season, And it is a pretty special place.

Will i go back if I go back to Sabah? YES.

Room Tip: I've heard some are better than others but ours (No18) was great.
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank HBomb1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 21, 2011

My partner and I stayed here for 3 nights in September and it was the highlight and one of our most favorite part of our 3 wk Borneo trip.

Pros
-remoteness, clean beaches (many of Sabah beaches are not clean), clear water
-polite and friendly staff
-professional diving instructors (a special thanks to Michao)
-beach frontage (we were in chalet 19)
- intimate turtle hatching and nesting (one turtle nested under our chalet!!), quite different from having a boat load of tourists all crowded around one turtle
-fresh food
-excellent snorkeling, just below the jetty

Cons
- I have thought for a while but can't think of any. If you are wanting a 5 star experience (ie: waiters to get u cocktails, exquisite fancy food, infinity pools, etc) this is not the place for you but if you want an escape from the big fancy hotels this is perfect.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank luvsHolidayslots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bruckmuehl, Germany
Level Contributor
68 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 21, 2011

This is really paradise...we were staying for 6 days on the island, me and my kids, 9 and 7 year old boys just loved the island...the sand is very nice for kids, its save to go into the water, snorkelling in fantastic, and you can really let the kids go without having worries...the bunglow Nr. 12 was very nice, 2 seperate rooms for kids and Mum, so everyone has his privacy....turtle hatching, turtles laying their eggs at night, fantastic food for every taste, and very nice staff.
I have been to many islands, but this is really worth going there. Later on our holidays we stayed at Manukan Island near Kota Kinabalu...it was just the opposite of Lankayan...so if you have visited Lankayan, dont visit Manukan anymore...crowded and a lot of rubbish....

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank IslandLover010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 21, 2011

Lankayan island is definitely a paradise island. White sands, palm fringed beaches, coral, lots of widlife... We had an amazing time and would definitely go back. The food is delicious and the service fantastic (I'm not sure why there are negative comments about services on here). The only negative thing is that the 3 night/4 day package is a bit misleading as you actually leave the island at 7am on the '4th day'.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Newbs82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland
Level Contributor
38 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 13, 2011

We stayed in July on our second visit to Lankayan and it was just as good the second time. rooms lovely and the food brilliant. Some of the best snorkeling in the world - saw turtles every day. You must jump from the wharf at least once dring your stay! Already planning another visit next year.

Room Tip: away from reception area
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank kiwi1964
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

Property: Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Address: Lankayan Island, Sandakan, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 32 Hotels in Sandakan
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Lankayan Island Dive Resort 3.5*
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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