I booked Lankayan as we wanted somewhere that offered diving for two of us and a good non-diving resort for the other two. But then every time I mentioned we were going diving in Borneo I was asked if it was Sipadan – and then told how good the diving was there. By the time we got to Lankayan, I was starting to get worried we’d got second best.
From the moment we set foot on Lankayan Island, I knew we had no worries. The island is absolutely fantastic. Very small – walk around it in 15 minutes – with around 25 chalets, staff accommodation, a small army outpost (but they’re very friendly soldiers!), and the marine conservation team.
We were in villa 22, which is (I think) the only family chalet. Two storeys, with a double bed upstairs and en-suite, and twin beds and en-suite downstairs. Balconies for both and a hammock outside on the ground floor. The only complaint about the rooms would be that the chairs on the balconies need some decent cushions – you can’t really spread out in them and relax.
The central restaurant area is good. A good choice of buffet for all meals. We were there eight nights and you start to see the same dishes but to be honest, they were so good we didn’t think it was a problem. You can get beer and wine as extra (RM 100 to 150 for the wine; beer was I think RM10 a can).
There is a TV room (good for the World Cup final) and a shop with various merchandise. There is Wifi in this main lodge as well as a couple of PCs that you can get online with – but you have to pay. It’s much cheaper to use the wifi and your own computer. No phone signal but you can buy cards for the satellite phone which were reasonable.
The staff everywhere are great – really friendly and nothing seems too much trouble.
On to the diving. I’m not massively experienced (around 50 dives before I came, in five or six places) but this dive centre is the best I’ve seen. It’s designed really well, kit seems good (we’d read that it was limited so I took everything – but then it seemed like the hire stuff looked fine) and the staff are very good. You do nothing but climb on and off the boat – very easy.
Every dive site is within a maximum of 10 minutes boat ride away. All the guide books (and the guides) say it is mainly macro diving and it is (great nudibranchs etc) but we also saw five species of shark and quite a few turtles (including the biggest hawksbill turtle I’ve ever seen). South Rock was the best site for us for sharks and turtles. During the week we did 18 dives and I can honestly say we enjoyed each one.
We tried the sunset dive, to look for the Mandarin Fish mating but no luck. But it was fun anyway.
Back to the island. We saw two turtle releases – and my sons and I got to release a bowl of baby turtles, which was absolutely magical. We didn’t see a turtle laying eggs but you can’t have everything.
Other highlights: My boys (11 and 9) loved jumping and diving off the helipad. My wife loved the snorkelling – loads to see. And I particularly liked the banana fritters every afternoon with my cup of tea!!
I’d really recommend Lankayan to anyone. If you’re diving it is great – fantastic facilities and some great dives. And it seems like a lot of non-divers visit which I can understand as it’s a great resort in itself.
- 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