--- Note to divers ---
If you book your dive package in advance you cannot get a refund if your situation changes. Better to book your dive package when you get there, which you can do without any issues. My wife wasn’t well so didn’t dive and use her package. We were able to negotiate a credit note for spending at the bar etc, but it was a little bit of a palaver.
The diving is of mixed quality. Mostly reef dives. The wreck dive is probably the best (two neighbouring wrecks, one wooden, one metal framed, lots of interesting stuff). No macro anywhere. There are lots of small interesting stuff though like nudebranches etc. In short this is a beach resort with recreational diving. Probably not for serious divers. It’s lots of fun though and is reasonably priced for a well kitted out dive school. Dive instructors varied. The lady that takes the beginners appeared the best. Great snorkelling too.
The island itself is simply stunning and I’m so glad we spent time there. The resort is managed from sandakan which makes any problems you may have more difficult to sort out (no one on the island can make decisions autonomously).
The rooms are actually really nice. They have aircon. All face the sea. There are no bugs anywhere.
The resort itself is well appointed. Both the clubhouse and dive centre are set out on jetties. There are well built and well kept. Clean and tidy. Well appointed with lots of nice extras like flowers and lights on the gangways. They feel very comfortable and accommodating. There is internet, satellite TV, good quality loungers and daybeds which are useful as the beach in front of the rooms is a little limited and only catches the morning sun.
Sunsets are predictably stunning.
Turtle stuff is kinda cool if you like that sort of thing. Seems as good as what turtle island has to offer.
The food is OK. It’s well below say BRL or 5* standard, but it’s passable. This is a cheaper resort than say BRL though. There is enough choice for there to be something for everyone.
The snorkelling around the house reef is excellent. Really excellent. You are guaranteed to snorkel with turtles any time you go out. The coral is as good as that seen at most of the dive sites. Snorkelling we saw baracuda, sharks, scorpion fish, hump fish. It’s pretty cool.
It’s hard to put in words how idyllic the island is. Any trip to sabah should include something like this. The next closest we stayed is Bunga Raya (on Gaya Island) which is proper 5* luxury but doesn't have the coral or Crusoe island feel. You can walk Lankayan island's circumference in 15 mins and you cannot see any other shore at any point. It’s simply beautiful.
In short: Beautiful beautiful island. Decent recreational diving. Very comfortable resort and rooms with a great club house you'll enjoy being in. Reasonable pricing. Let down by mediocre service, which lacks a warm welcoming feel and can be disorganised at times, likely due to the lack of on-site management and communication issues resulting from this.
Borneo Rainforest Ledge (which many people seem to also visit) makes an interesting comparison. BRL is much better in every way, except that Lankayan is just far more visually stunning. BRL is also much more expensive which makes me want to forgive its slight misgivings.
Highly recommended despite the quirks.
- 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