Having already enjoyed great diving in a few places in the Borneo state of Sabah in Malaysia, I was looking forward to my stay on Lankayan Island. I have to say I wasn't disappointed.
The island is gorgeous, the surrounding waters turquoise blue, and there are shallow reefs offering easy but entertaining diving. You can even see baby sharks and turtles in the shallows near the beach and the marine conservation effort is clearly apparent. The diving is in small groups and there's a nice relaxed atmosphere. All this meant I enjoyed a very memorable stay here.
With interesting and pretty dive sites and the very attractive Lankayan Island Dive Resort, it's difficult not to fall in love with this island paradise.
The Lankayan dive sites I enjoyed the most were Goby Rock, Pegaso Reef, Jawfish Lair and Lost Reef. The important thing is to take your time at these sites and enjoy the interaction with marine life such as cuttlefish and pelagics and wonder at the goby-shrimp partnerships and beautiful colours of the giant clams. You'll find all this and more during a leisurely dive at Lankayan.
Day 1 took us to the artificial Jetty Wreck reef. Made up of sunken fishing boats and open wooden cages, it is the ideal sanctuary for juveniles and is teaming with aquatic life. A great site for beginner divers and for photographers, it also provides an excellent night dive.
Lankayan in general is a fabulous place to learn to dive as the visibility is between 10-30m, there are seldom any strong currents and the water is warm. However, diving here is not only for beginners; even the most accomplished and experienced diver will enjoy it. Quite a few of the dive sites are close to each other by boat, so you can easily fit 3 dives into each day.
I stayed for 5 days and only saw a quarter of the dive sites so a longer stay is recommended.
The Lankayan dive resort possesses no less than 5 fibreglass boats with ladders for exiting the water. The friendly dive staff are very helpful and the diving operation is well organised and clean. The only possible hindrance is that there are no toilet facilities at the dive centre. Go before leaving your room or you might have to go when underwater!
You don't have to be a diver to enjoy a stay here. The resort has many facilities including a restaurant, souvenir shop, large public area and a TV room where you can watch satellite TV or read a book. They also have Wi-Fi and 2 PCs for guest use.
Activities on offer are beach volleyball and ocean kayaking and of course snorkelling. An added treat is a visit to the SIMCA hatchery to witness baby turtles hatching and making their frenzied dash to the water. An especially magical moment.
Lankayan retains its natural environment with two thirds of the island still covered in virgin jungle. The resort is right on the beach and east facing. There are double, single and family chalets and all have private bathrooms with hot showers. The clear, calm sea is just a few steps away if you fancy a dip or you can simply relax on your terrace in your own private hammock. You can also witness the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
Filtered water is delivered to this small island every week and waste water is re-cycled through a hydroponic treatment system to water the plants. The health of the surrounding sea is taken very seriously and water tests are carried out daily to monitor this.
Despite being a small island, there are over 40 staff members to look after you and fresh produce is delivered by boat, daily.
The restaurant serves up buffet-style and a la carte meals in a relaxed atmosphere with a wide range of hot and cold dishes and bakery items. As an added bonus, afternoon tea is served just as you return from your third dive of the day. Special diets can also be catered for.
To get to Lankayan, I stayed first for 1 night in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Then a short flight took me to the Sandakan jetty where I boarded a boat for the 1½ hour ride to the idyllic Lankayan Island Resort. Be prepared to get a little wet on the boat if you don't take a seat inside!
It is gratifying to know that by staying at the Lankayan Island Resort you are directly supporting the work of the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA). 46,000 hectares of sea are protected and the SIMCA staff work closely with the marine police in an effort to supervise boat traffic in the area and stamp out illegal fishing.
Their tremendous work is now reflected in the increasing number of turtles returning home there to nest each year.
After my wonderful stay on this enchanting paradise island, I returned home relaxed and refreshed with wonderful memories of fabulous diving and tranquil evenings.
It's a destination that can be enjoyed and appreciated by both divers and non-divers alike. I will definitely be back again soon!
Dive The World is running a special offer for Lankayan Resort for a limited time only. You won't find cheaper prices than these. So you can enjoy the romance and seclusion of this paradise island without breaking the bank.
For more details visit our blog: Dive The World Lankayan Special Offer
For details of other special offers in Sabah, Malaysia including a range of amazing deal for diving in Sipadan see: Malaysia Special Dive Deals 2011