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“Turtle Watching, Diving, Paradise Lounging - All you need for a great getaway”

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Ranked #1 of 33 Hotels in Sandakan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 29 August 2016

The boat ride at 10 AM will take you 1.5 hours from the jetty, and upon arrival you are given an orientation of the resort. The island is basically made up of the dive centre (over water), main dining hall / reception (over water), turtle hatchery centre, chalets and the encircling beach.

The island is a nesting spot for green and hawksbill turtles during the season between June and September. You could experience hundreds of turtles hatching out of the sand in the hatchery, and then released on the beach where they run for their cute little lives into the ocean. At night, you could also view mother turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Its a beautiful experience but be prepared to get furious over noisy and loud tourists with unmanageable kids and camera flashes. Camera flashes and noise disrupt and irritate the mother. I would have expected the "reef guardian" (the hatchery institute) to better manage the crowd with education during the orientation (in various languages beside english), and strict crowd control during the events.

The rooms are incredibly huge and each has an ocean view. Be sure to ask which sun you'd like to face. I had the evening sun which was too strong for me to enjoy the ocean view. Rooms have a sabahian theme but little details like brightly coloured plastic dustbins and buckets spoil the whole flow. Using the hot water is a mystery with painful consequences, so be careful!

There are basically two types of packages to stay in this resort, the diver and non-diver packages, which includes full board of all meals (buffet style).

The management is very well organised and efficient, who are quick to attend to your needs.

Diving around Lankayan Island is a mix of beautiful corals and bad visibility. Almost all the dive sites are within 10 minutes boat ride. The poor visibility could be due to multiple runoffs of river mouths from Sabah mainland that bring deluge into the ocean. Most marine life of interest are macro. The best dives for me that are rich in diversity and good visibility with beautiful healthy corals are, Bimbo Rock, Goby Rock and Whale Shark Reef.

Room Tip: Some rooms are much bigger like room number 4, which is also close to the dining hall and dive resor...
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  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled solo
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2  Thank SabOhara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 August 2016 via mobile

We visited Lankayan in August primarily to scuba dive. The diving was good, but the visibility was poor. For divers, Sipidan is much much better.

The property and beach around Lankayan is beautiful and peaceful; however, the chalets are basic and not well cleaned. We had an enjoyable time, but it would have been much better with better accommodations.

The kitchen staff is wonderful and catered to our vegan diets. They were attentive and thoughtful and the food was good. They provided tofu and tempeh with every meal and soymilk at breakfast.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
Thank ebny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 August 2016

If you're expecting, a great, possibly unique location in a protected marine conservation zone (Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area), real relaxation, friendly,approachable, helpful but not intrusive staff, an arguably second to none turtle conservation programme with a dedicated team, possibly once in a lifetime turtle observation experiences and very limited wifi/phone access (a big plus) ... you will be making a good choice ... if you want spas, bars, jet skis, crowds ... go somewhere else. Lankayan is exclusive in a positive and non opulent way.
This was our second visit and we made sure that this time it was longer, it was that good! It is becoming more difficult every year to find places that have not been or are being spoilt.
The small island of 26 bungalows with no room for expansion is reached by an hour and a half 400-500 HP speed boat ride from Sandakan Yacht Club jetty; there is only one boat a day, so make sure your flights or stopover in Sandakan accommodate this. The island will transfer you from the airport or accommodation in Sandakan to the jetty - the transfer is very efficient and punctual as is the boat. An armed member of the military is on the boat and there is a military attachment on the island for safety given the problems in the area in the past few years, although on the whole you would not know they were there and when you do see them they will always smile and say hello.
The island with its white, sandy beaches can be walked around in about 15 minutes - the bungalows, cleaned daily, spacious, simple but equipped with comfortable bed, open plan 'ish' bathroom, fridge, safe, towels and toiletries are placed on the Eastern side of the island. Some are not well placed and do not have direct beach access due to erosion and you do not get to express any preference for location, although if the island is not fully booked we did notice that peoples requests for change were accommodated
You can experience the sunrise (at about 5.45-6.00 when we were there, its an early bed and early rise location). On one morning (our first or second) we were privileged with an experience of seeing a large, Green Turtle making her way down the beach, returning to the sea after laying her eggs - this was a real 'wow factor'. The conservation staff who regularly monitor the beaches for turtle nesting during the night collected the eggs and placed them in the outdoor hatcheries. You can see the baby turtles hatching and released into the sea - nests hatched every day while we were there, sometimes multiple nests with between 70 - 100 babies. The hatching and release is a great experience. the conservation staff will inform you when nests are hatching and when turtles are nesting (on average 2 turtles nested each night we were there, some only meters from our bungalow), which adds to the amazing experience of staying on the island.All of this is well coordinated and controlled by the conservation staff to avoid disturbance to the turtles, but nevertheless an 'up close and personal' experience - more 'wow factor' ... !
Snorkeling is amazing, direct from the beach, swathes of live coral with all sorts of marine life including turtles, Green and Hawksbill, numerous species of fish, big and small, plenty of trigger fish of varying size and variety, black tip sharks, Moray Eel the list is endless - but then snorkeling from the jetty is even more amazing ... parrot fish, bumpheads, clown fish, peanut fish .. so clear and pristine, its like swimming in an aquarium! A recent review suggested there is only so much snorkeling you can do - we're not really good swimmers but couldn't get enough, its a shame to leave. Its fair to say that we came away better swimmers/snorkelers, but that might not be true for everyone, so if you want to snorkel and have some experience, its great, but perhaps limited for those that have never snorkeled before it could be limited.
There is a mix of nationalities, mostly European (British, German, Scandinavian, Italian) and some mainland Chinese. Most people will have witnessed or heard about the bad behaviour of Chinese on holiday, but for the most part, their behaviour was not as bad as we have seen elsewhere - They did appear to be receptive to how others were behaving and followed suit, on the whole, although a little more assertiveness from the Lankayan staff about disturbing marine life and the consequences legally and environmentally wouldn't go amiss for everyone - perhaps posting details of the penalties for disturbing or taking marine life in the rooms might help.
Nevertheless an overall wonderful holiday, but the only thing that lets Lankayan down is the food. From last time to this it has gone downhill. We appreciate that getting supplies to a remote area is difficult, but the quality and choice at meal times leaves a lot to be desired and can be likened to a poor works canteen - there are only a maximum of 50 people there at any one time and it seems that little effort goes into menu planning and cooking - on 2 lunch times I decided, given the poor choice and quality that the best option was to make myself a sandwich from the bread from breakfast and a slice of processed cheese ...
This is really the only major negative and why I have decided Lankayan unfortunately only deserves Very good.

  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Sean M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2016

The resort at Lankayan Island was really beautiful with good facilities, good food and very nice service. Lankayan resort is a great place to relax and no-divers will have a lot of opportunities for snorkelling. Possibility to watch turtles nesting and hatching to create a unforgettable memories.We really did have the best time and would love to return in the future.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Monika B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2016 via mobile

This place is pretty amazing. And at least in my circle of travellers not many people know about it. Not even on the radar. But it ought to be. The lodging is great. Although to the builders why would you not put doors on the toilets. If you're not close with the person you're rooming with you will be in a bad way. The reef around the island is among the best in the world. It's like finding nemo in real life. The turtle experience is pretty unique. Everything I'm mentioning is like pretty awesome but I'm so sleepy sitting on the floor of an international airport so the enthusiasm isn't coming across. Just go to this place. It's amazing.

Management. I know you said it's for security but wake guests up after midnight for the nesting. We didn't come thousands of miles to miss it because of an empty threat of kidnapping. Also the employees running the dive shop are okay and competent but they don't seem like they give a crap. I wouldn't trust them to save my butt in a pinch. For the money you charge your customer service needs to improve. All that said I still say the island is a must do for any traveling adventurer.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
1  Thank dyhppy
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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