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“Stunning”

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Ranked #2 of 32 Hotels in Sandakan
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Stunning”
Reviewed January 20, 2014 via mobile

We stayed for 3 nights as part of our honeymoon to Malaysia and Borneo.
The island is stunning , only a handful of guests , picture postcard beaches and amazing blue sea with great snorkelling.
We did a dive which was good with lots of live coral and sea life, not cheap but by no means overly expensive.
Food is good , alcohol a tad expensive.
Accommodation is Simple and very clean.
Staff are all friendly as are the military who are based on the island ( Google it )
Some people may say it's not quite " luxury " enough ... And to be fair if you want to lay on a sun bed and be served cocktails they would be correct. In fact they could do with making the sun loungers on the beaches a bit more comfortable.

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank Daniel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Helsinki, Finland
Level Contributor
53 reviews
52 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2014

The hotel and the island itself exceeded the high expectations we had. It is a true paradise. The chalet were we stayed was very nice and cosy (not too fancy) with good air conditioning. It was located on stilts above the sea and nothing is better than falling a sleep with the sound of waves. The main building was also very nice with the restaurant and lobby in the first level and relaxing area with wide selection of books in different languages in the second.

On one evening there was a turtle landing next to chalet which was very nice to follow. In the waters around the main building you can also see several turtles and small sharks.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Leena152
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

We stayed here for 3nights in Feb 2013 and it was an island of our dreams!!
The journey from Sandakan was abit hair raising but well worth the effort. There were about 7 of us the outward boat and 12+ inward.
There were only about 25+ on the island so it was like having it totally to yourself. Deserted sandy beaches, amazing snorkelling, good food, pricey alcohol.
The photos we took look like something out of a magazine and that was just with a 'point & shoot' camera. Every view was spectacular!!
We would most definitely recommend staying here.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank HayleyM73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
39 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2013

We have just returned from 3 nights at Lankayan which was a great place to stay as part of our honeymoon. The island itself is very beautiful and the chalets that house the guests are very well designed with air conditioning and a fan. The main building where you eat, etc lies in the ocean and you get it to it via a long jetty walkway. We saw a baby reef shark from the jetty so keep your eyes peeled.

The scuba diving was fantastic although the staff were pretty laid back and some of the gear was pretty ropey with leaks, etc. It certainly had a much less professional feel than the dive centre in Pom Pom island where my wife did her PADI course.

The food was good - there was plenty of it and we even got turkey for our Xmas eve party dinner! We found it very strange that the bar did not serve cocktails or fresh fruit juice.

all in all we had a great time!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
1 Thank Phoenixtom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palma
Level Contributor
56 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2013

This island is paradise and we had 5 fantastic night’s stay, I would recommend it for a real chill.

There are some issues but I don’t think there is a chance of anything changing because there doesn’t look to be anyone actually managing the resort.

Anyway I will list the negatives: After disembarking the 10am (the only) boat we were given our keys and a short brief by a member of the dive team who’s English was very limited. Even thought we were the biggest party on the island having 4 chalets they were kind enough to allocate us the 2 smallest chalets ( 3 &2) and the noisiest (8). Request in advance chalets 9-15. The chalets are clean with good hot water and the a/c is quiet and functions.

There is a maximum of about 50 guests, but half the island is mysteriously inhabited with the army and police who take it turns to point a machine gun towards the Philippines from a hide, when they are not playing volleyball or table tennis.
The beach area is beautiful; it could do with some showers which could easily be attached to the outside of the chalets. There are some well-made hard wood sunbeds that are too heavy to move, which wasn’t a problem because they were so hard and uncomfortable without a a cushion that no one used them.

The restaurant area is magnificent building with a very spacious upstairs area that is wasted. There is plenty of room to build a spa and treatment rooms, some keep fit equipment and table tennis table. The island is not suitable for young children who need entertaining bearing in mind there is nothing to do except swim, dive, sunbathe and eat.
The food is buffet style and a little hit and miss. The annoying timing of the evening meal 7pm to 8.30pm, if you arrive much after 7.30 it can be more miss than hit. Everything is cleared at 8.30 sharp. The bar stops serving from its understocked and overpriced fridge at 10.30 and if you haven’t cleared the board walk back to your chalet by 11 all the lights go off and you could end up in the sea. The good thing is without the lights the stars are wonderful.

I would suggest you buy some alcohol if you have time and space before you embark. There is no gin in the bar and no peanuts and the wine at around £30 is £4 worth .

The Wifi is very poor so don’t expect to be able to download the times.

The staff, mainly untrained students, are all very sweet and smile and will do anything for you, they say yes to anything you ask, unfortunately their comprehension is limited so you may have to ask more than once.

The diving staff look as they are all on holiday and maybe they are. Most had dive master t-shirts, there were no instructors evident. Don’t go snorkelling on the boat as if the weather is choppy the boat driver was not attentive or competent and its just as good snorkelling off the jetty.

Room Tip: Not number 8 9-15 are better
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
6 Thank PalmaFishy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Budapest
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed October 19, 2013

We spent 4 wonderful days at Lankayan island. The most reason to come here? Sure, the turtles :) It was my big dream to see them when they hatch and see them when they nest.

Lankayan is about 1,5 hour from Sandakan with speedboat. Were lucky, no waves :) The island was smaller than thought before, like a small jewel in the middle of the sea :) We got great welcome on the pier, I guess, all the staff waited for us :)

One dive master gave the basic information about the rules, and finally we got our chalets. Wow, it was like in the paradise :) Enough big with nice furnitures and big bathroom. But the best was the balcony! Huge with easy-chairs and a small table, and sure, facing to the sea :)

The private beach? Priceless :) After a refreshing bath in the sea we went to the dive center, we booked diving package. The staff was nice, but the check dive area was not so big deal... We dived 1 per / day (2 is included in the package), it was enough. The dive sites were great, but the visibility is not good. Finally, we came here for the turtles and not for diving :)

We were relaxing on the restaurant balcony on the first evening, when a nice girl came and asked whether we want to see turtle hatching? Wow, already on the first day? Sure! They were so cute! In the following days we were very lucky, every late afternoon could see hatching :)

We settled to adopt nests. They found us nests that are very close to hatching, so we had chance to see them. 100 MYR not a big deal for that (30 USD), the money is helping the work of the foundation. We got a table to write some message for them, one T-shirt, a decal for a car and a certification. We were lucky, all the nest had hatched till we were there. We were so happy!

The staff is really nice, everybody is smiling, saying hello always. The meals were great, with many local and seafood.

The island? Like in the paradise :) OK, we saw many pics before, we almost knew the place... but seeing it personally... more and more wonderful :)

On the last evening we heard some noise from the other chalet... one huge green turtle came to nesting! It was fantastic to see her while making a big hole for the eggs, while nesting and while covering the nest and going back to the sea.

I guess, Lankayan was the one of the biggest experience in my life :) We were very sad leaving this paradise. Although it was very expensive, I can tell you, it worth it! :)

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
4 Thank Koka888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Level Contributor
29 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed September 29, 2013

This is an incredible resort. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of traveling here. There are only two negatives that I can think of, one being that it is very expensive, around 1600 MYR for non-divers. The other is that the airconditioning is not strong enough. The first day we stayed here I kept the doors and windows open to let the incredible sunlike, view and breeze blow through the chalet. That night I could hardly sleep because it was so hot in the chalet. The second day I kept all of the windows and doors shut and the aircon on all day and I slept fine. Slightly odd but not a deal breaker was that the bathroom had no door or separation from the bedroom. I just had to ask my fella for privacy if a girl wanted to keep anything to herself. :-)

Besides those negatives everything else was amazing. From the turtles, to the sunsets. Everywhere you turn on this island is a photo shoot waiting to happen. The snorkeling is incredible close to the main building and the dive pier. Just jump out into the water and swim straight out until you reach the drop-off point. The time we saw the most fish active was our swim at 3-4pm so the fish really come out of the reef when the temperatures drop. It looked like an aquarium!

For the turtles, when we were there they usually hatched close to 5pm with hatchling releases at 5:30-6pm. To be waken up for the night nesting they say to place cards outside your room and the security guard will wake you to come out. What I HIGHLY recommend is registering your name for wake-up at the SIMCO office where you put down your name and room number and signature that it is okay to wake you for a nesting between 12-3am. Then they have you name written down on a list and check you off of the list when you are called. You will not be called again in one night. The first night we were called just as the nesting finished, and the huge older turtle was too tired to move afterward so we saw very little of the process. The next day I went to the ranger office to make sure we were still on the list to be waken up. There was a huge thunder and lightning storm that night, but we got waken at 2am to watch a nesting. It was incredible. We watched Mama lay the eggs, cover them and drag her exhausted self out to sea. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

The food was great and the ride out there in a boat takes about 1.5-2 hours. It had a nice big shade and both rides were just fine from a sea-sickness point of view. I wish I could have afforded to stay for another two nights! But alas, we had to head home. Overall, just an amazing time and place.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank ScienceChick
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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