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“Wonderful snorkeling, great rooms, beautiful island and views....but bring a book and cards”

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Ranked #1 of 33 Hotels in Sandakan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 6 July 2016

My husband, brother, and myself stayed for 4 nights and it really was a lovely place. The snorkeling was top notch (wait until later in the day when the tide goes out and you can go quite far and really get into the coral to see spectacular things), i heard from the very few other guests there at the same time as us that the diving was also very good. The views are wonderful, water clarity is quite good, and the facilities are very nice. The chalets are unique, clean, and very large. The AC is also nice to have! The main clubhouse area is beautiful (and seems to be brand new), and the wifi isn't terrible. Had trouble connecting occasionally but really, who cares when you are on a beautiful island?
I will say that it would be really great if they added a few amenities. I am wondering if they are still in the process of building up this resort because there was quite a bit of construction going on with the walkways and at the dive shop while we were there, so maybe they intend to bring in a few things to keep people busy when not snorkeling/diving. A small spa or a masseuse that could come to your veranda and give you a beach-side massage would have been AMAZING! I definitely would have utilized that service had it been available. Really the only thing to keep you busy on a stormy day (and we had one) was the moderately-working wifi, some books you can borrow at the main house, or the tv upstairs (no tvs in the room). Spa or games would have been awesome.
They do have a bar with wine and beer.
The food was so-so in our group's opinion. It started out buffet style when we first got there, but the next three days the census was so low (one morning there were only 7 guests on the entire island, there were never more than 12 when we were there) that they just gave you a choice of a few entrees, don't choose wrong. The portion size is plentiful and you get the whole salad-soup(soup was always reeeeeally good actually)-entree-dessert combo. During non-meal hours there is still coffee, tea, water, and juice available, as well as bread for toast). Sometimes snacks as well, although sometimes the snacks were waffles left over from breakfast which didn't appear too appetizing. Honestly though the portions are so big you really don't feel hungry in between! (p.s. try the coconut jam...yum)

The staff is extremely friendly. When you arrive they give you the low down on the island and then they really don't interact with you again other than at meal time. I wished they had given us info on when and where to snorkel to see certain things because we were kind of doing it blindly. I suppose most people go there to dive though and are accompanied by staff.
There are military on the island whom you will pass by on the beach or walkways from time to time. We had military on our boat back to sandakan, but not on the way out to the island. Not sure why. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel, our luggage was handled well, the service was great! Boat ride can be a bit bumpy even if there isn't a ton of wind. it is the open ocean after all! They gave us ponchos to cover ourselves or anything we didnt want to get wet. (luggage goes in a compartment up front so that wasnt an issue)

Some turtles hatched during the middle of the night apparently, so we didnt get to see them be released which was disappointing. If they hatch after midnight they won't alert you.

I would stay here again if there were more amenities. The other guests we talked to at the time felt the same way. There is only so much snorkeling/diving one can do! I felt like the staff quarters looked more happening than the guest quarters! I wanted to go over there and see if they would let us join in volleyball (they have a net, not sure if its for guest use though)

Tips for snorkeling if you go there: The turtles from what we could tell were hanging around the main clubhouse structure, especially near the walkway during late morning to late afternoon. There is a lot of seagrass growth there, which they eat. we spent a lot of time snorkeling late afternoon when the tide went out some so we could see them more clearly as the water was shallow. There is a beautiful coral reef out past the clubhouse that is great to snorkel in the second part of the day when tide goes out(again for visibility purposes and also so its shallow enough to put your feet down in a sandy area and rest for a minute). We also enjoyed snorkeling off the dive shop dock, another coral reef. There are reefs all over of course, but those are where we spent a lot of time!

So, in summary:
-Accommodations and staff were awesome
-Snorkeling/diving was spectacular (and make sure to spend some time on the docks when the tide goes out in the evening before it gets dark...there are an array of different fish you don't see earlier in the day! Doing this we saw reef sharks, baracudas, manta rays, and lots of other cool creatures!)
-Food was so-so (i forgot to mention we had just come from a rainforest resort with gourmet food, so maybe my assessment of the food isn't fair in comparison)
-Amenities are lacking slightly (a little spa please! people would use it after hours and hours swimming in the ocean :-))
-Adding a few entry/exit points to the ocean from the walkways would be AWESOME. There were no ladders so if it was a rough day and the tide was still in, it was a little intimidating to realize how far you had to swim to get back to the beach. There is plenty of room to put in a few ladders :-)

Thank you LIDR for a lovely time and beautiful snorkeling!

Room Tip: All the rooms had great view. the island is tiny so all rooms face ocean
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  • Stayed: June 2016, travelled with family
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3  Thank Travel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 June 2016

We had four nights at this tiny island that is set up to pamper guests. Restful, relaxing, comfortable, great rooms, lovely food, kind gentle and wonderful staff. We saw turtles released, enjoyed snorkeling, loved our hammock and beach times. would return without hesitation.

  • Stayed: June 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Mike P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 June 2016

We visited Lankayan on our honey moon. The hotel was a suggestion of our travel agent who is specialized in diving holidays. It takes 1h45m by speed boat to reach Lankayan, a journey which can be tough for those who are not fond of boats. Upon arrival, there's a tremendous experience. The place is magical, a very small island with wooden houses and two large over water structures, the restaurant/reception/tv room and the diving center. The sand is white and the sea is beautiful, full of fishes which you can see as you are bathing. The staff is tremendously friendly and the food is superb.
There is a turtle rescue center and we were lucky enough to watch turtles nesting and their birth as well.
This is without a doubt one of the nicest places I have ever been and it somewhere I want to return.

Room Tip: Ask for a room further from the reception as the beach is better
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  • Stayed: July 2015, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Filipe B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2016

We LOVED our stay here.We stayed as a family of 5 in the family bungalow .Two storey , loads of space ,comfortable and a view to die for .The most amazing water with nothing in the distance except blue ocean.We watched turtles , shark and barracuda swim by our bungalow most days .The snorkelling was great and there is so many turtles you cant help swim past one.The island is very small and well managed .There is a presence of military on the island , I think approx 70 at a time ..You dont see them all but you do cross paths with them occasionally.They are very friendly but the machine guns left me feeling a little uneasy ...When you dive they are also on the boat with you .
We loved the conservation efforts being made on this island and we saw the turtles hatching 2 afternoons, and also saw 1 nesting and laying her eggs.A truly special experience. The diving was nice but the visability was not great when we were there .Loads of macro life , things we had never seen before so that was great .We didnt get the dive package and were happy we didn't .we just booked each day and there was no problem. You cant beat swimming with the turtles though and we all did this just snorkelling out from our room. It was a great educational experience as well ..The dive and reef guardian staff are very knowledgable.
the food was great and varied each day .There was always something for even my fussy eater.Staff are all very lovely .We would definately recommend this dive resort .A truly memorable stay here that we will never forget.

  • Stayed: May 2016, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Thank Sam B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 May 2016 via mobile

We came a long way from Canada for our Sabah vacation and our stay at Lankayan Island did not disappoint ! We spent 4 nights and 3 full days here and wished we could have spent longer . Location is isolated and the first day only had 12 guests so we felt like we almost had to resort to our selves ! I dived twice a day and saw lots , even an 8 foot lemon shark ! Visibility for diving was just ok but for snorkelling was gin clear and there were an amazing variety of fish and coral just adjacent to the dive centre . Water was very warm and coral sand, so white ! Tons of giant clam shells to be found ( and left behind ) . Highlight was a Hawksbill turtle nesting and laying 149 eggs directly beside our chalet ! Wow ! Eggs were dug up and buried in the hatchery by Marine Conservation people to help ensure their chance at survival . Food was good , especially the omelettes at breakfast . My only complaint would be the bathrooms in the chalets . Was weird to have no door and a glass wall on one side , so no privacy for the toilet ? Couldn't figure that design out ? Boat ride was fairly long and a little bumpy , but who cares for this kind of location ! Military presence of aprox 60 did not interfere and actually just made us feel safer . ( 2 armed soldiers accompanied us on each dive ) . Hope one day to return !

Stayed: May 2016, travelled as a couple
Thank longliner
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

Address: Lankayan Island, Sandakan, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 33 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

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