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“Stunning - but best to book diving from the resort not in advance”

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Lankayan Island Dive Resort
Ranked #1 of 32 Hotels in Sandakan
Certificate of Excellence
london
Level 5 Contributor
55 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Stunning - but best to book diving from the resort not in advance”
Reviewed 6 July 2014

--- 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.

Room Tip: The best rooms are at the far end 22+. These are more private and on taller stilts resulting in stun...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
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5 Thank benstopford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Singapore, Singapore
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 June 2014

Lankayan island really is a paradise island. Me and my friends jan and yans sat on the speedboat in full anticipation of what the island would offer us. We were spell-bound by the beauty that hit us as we walked from the jetty to the restaurant where we were briefed.

I personally could not take my eyes off the clear blue waters. It was absolutely breathtaking. We even managed to spot a turtle while walking to our rooms.

The room was large and spacious and we had a queen sized bed and two single beds for three people. It was well stocked with everything we needed and even more.

The island also offered fantastic snorkeling with plenty of corals and fish, we even swam with the turtles which honestly was one of the best experiences in my life.

We also did a dive refresher, our guide Gary was very patient and helpful considering we haven't dived in ages. He was experienced and eased our anxieties about the dives. It was a relatively easy dive with plenty of fish, we managed to spot some stingrays, lobsters and a baby shark.

Security wise we felt safe with soldiers following us on our dive trips and also seeing them and the police patrol the area during the different times of the day.

We really appreciated the free flow of drinks and the every meal time me and yans were mind blown. The food was amazeballs!! The spread was amazing, the food was fresh and it was a good mix of western and asian food. Kudos to the chef for our amazing food experience every meal time. Every meal time there was always a surprise awaiting us, the food tasted better than it looked and it almost brought tears to our eyes. The staff was also helpful and friendly remembering that my friend liked cut chillies. Most memorable food experiences were definitely the fish- cooked in all its different ways, the squid, prawn tempura, egg porridge and chicken noodle soup.

Topping off to the epic end of our 5D4N, we jumped off the helipad into the sea at sunset. We may not have been able to witness any turtle nesting or hatching but we had a wonderful time at lankayan island and would not hesitate to visit this lovely place again.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank pomodorini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2014

The speed boat trip out and back was the fastest thing about the whole stay. Time moves at a gentle pace, turtles float by, multitude of bright fish floating in the coral, sparkling white sand, hot sun, smiling staff and isolation. It was a gorgeous spot to relax, unwind, snorkel, swim, eat, eat, eat, sleep.. And dive if you wanted. A wee spot of paradise in the Sulu sea. The chalet accommodation was simple in style but very comfortable looking out onto the beach. If you are lucky you may have turtle lay her eggs just below your balcony, as one did but to a neighbors not mine.
If you want quiet tropical,with marine life distraction I would recommend. I only stayed 3 nights, could have stayed more, but you need to want to chill out.
The staff are wonderful, smiling, friendly , very happy to help and they gave me a surprise birthday cake... Very touching

Room Tip: Rooms, they all had an aspect to them, I was in what looked like slightly newer (7) and I enjoyed it...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank HelenGlobal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
Level 6 Contributor
132 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 May 2014

Go, maybe, if you are not divers. We were originally booked on Layang Layang, which last minute closed for tourists. Our travel 'specialist' raved about Lankayan. Stayed 11 days. A nice, even beautiful small island, big ocean front bungalows. But not of interest for divers, unless you are a beginner (we had 250 and 1,000+ dives). The disappointment was completed by the surprising - appalling! - unprofessionalism of the dive operation. Let's see; dangerously basic briefings (security matters ignored), no oxygen on any boat ("not needed, haha"), divers were told to board boats wearing full gear incl. tanks (not fins...) from the deck, whatever the swell. As I bluntly refused it was done, though 60+ year old ladies struggled on. Stupid, dangerous & lazy. Having total beginners on board, dive masters consistently entered the water first and went down, leaving folks with 4-5 dives experience back roll & immerse alone. Unbelievable. We felt we had to keep an eye (my friend is PADI instructor) and did intervene on a couple of occasions in potentially risky situations. DM had surfaced... An annoyance which was not addressed was that groups were mixed, having instructor guests and junior divers do the same sites - not so exciting for us, even if we met & socialised with great guys. Oh, a real winner was all dives were (vocally!) limited to 45 minutes when anywhere else does 55-65 minutes. With mostly shallow dives & a maximum depth of 23 meters anywhere we went. Laziness, government law? "Resort policy" was the smiling answer. We saw the instructor twice he never greeted, anybody, even on the same tiny raft. Dynamite fishing blasts on almost all dives. We skipped the last days. The snorkelling was better.
Resort: suitable for families, snorkelers, honeymooners. Beaches are pristine & well kept. The (only) restaurant served the same food at every meal, almost. Deep fried galore. Lousy wines. Service was polite and friendly. And unprofessional, except for Reception and housekeeping. Difficult to blame management, we didn't see nor meet one single person in charge in 11 days, on a tiny island. Amazing. Staff need training, leadership you name it. All kind and willing though. Do not expect 4* service.
The Reef Guards saved the day; fantastic commitment to the conservation of the endangered turtles. We witness a nesting at midnight and hatchings of the protected baby turtles & their release in the ocean. We happily adopted nests & chatted away with the volunteers. If it wasn't for them rating would have been worse.
There are much better places to spend this kind of money. Hope they hire a pro island manager.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
16 Thank MagnusBvi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barcelona, Spain
Level 6 Contributor
94 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2014

We stayed three nights, the island is fantastically beautiful and the hotel really nice. We saw the turtle hutchlings release three times and even one time the spawning by night.
The staff has been very nice and helpful.
Only two small concerns:
- The dive centre staff is more oriented implement rules than to be helpful with clients, getting to the limit of one dive master (Garry) chasing people if they were having a beer for lunch, even when I was not going to dive.
- The bungalows are a bit too close to each other.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank jordi_co
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 May 2014 via mobile

The photos don't do this place justice, by far the most beautiful place I've ever been. I just did a 3D/2N stay but could easily have stayed for longer. The surrounding coral was fascinating and swimming with sea turtles was incredible. The hotel itself is wonderful with great staff, the food was delicious and plentiful. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

Stayed May 2014, travelled solo
Helpful?
3 Thank kipsmyth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
48 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 May 2014

This location and resort is an amazing find! You can research all you want and look at photos but the websites does not do the turquoise water that surrounds this magnificent island any justice. The staff are friendly and helpful, and are fully committed and knowledgeable about the conservation of the marine life and the island itself. My friends and I are not divers but with the water being so clear and blue there's plenty of things to see and do for the 4 nights we were there. This is not a place for families with children who are under 12 and are not water babies or interested in doing their Padi or Open water courses. Lankayan Island is simply the most beautiful beach resort I have been to, by pass Hawaii and come straight here!

Room Tip: This island is so remote and well looked after, you don't need a tip.
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Gaida15
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
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 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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