For travelers who want to experience the lush tropical rainforest, get up close and personal with the wildlife and wrap it up with a sojourn on a gorgeous island paradise, Sandakan is the place to go. While most would associate Sandakan with adorable primates and exotic wildlife, many are unaware that Sandakan is home to one of the most beautiful islands in Sabah— Lankayan Island.
Where is Lankayan Island?
From Sandakan city, the journey to Lankayan Island takes one-and-a-half hours of boat ride. Depending on the weather, the ride can be quite a tumble, so be ready with seasick pills just in case. The first thing you will notice about Lankayan as you approach the shore is its clear blue-green waters, swaying mangrove trees and pristine surroundings. Being rather remote from the city serves the island well in making sure that it’s far from pollutions and destructive fishing practices. There is only one accommodation on the island, which is the Lankayan Island Dive Resort.
Lankayan Island Dive Resort
The dive resort comprises of a dive centre, which is situated next to the jetty and helipad; a conservation centre called the Reef Guardian, a main building where the restaurant, library and reception area are located; as well as 25 individual wooden chalets (and counting). Lankayan Island itself is a tiny jewel-shaped island. According to one of the dive resort’s personnel, it would only take fifteen minutes to surround the whole area on foot.
Lankayan Island Aerial view
From an aerial view up in the sky, you will notice unique tentacles reaching out from the islands, due to several networks of long wooden boardwalks which connect the dive centre and main building to the tiny island. The chalets and the Reef Guardian are located on the island itself, while the dive centre and the main building are built on stilts, over the sea. On low tides, you can see vivid corals and colourful fishes frolicking under the water surface.
Apart from smaller reef fishes, there have also been sightings of baby whale sharks and black tip sharks swimming close to the shores in search for food. Usually, these baby sharks will appear early in the morning just before sunrise, when the water is coolers and the surrounding still dim.
Explore the coral reef garden
Tempted by the glistening sea and sparkling white sands, I wasted no time and reached straight for sun lotion and swimsuit. Armed with a rented pair of pink fins and snorkel, I went exploring above the coral reef garden where a myriad of reef fishes such as gobies, angelfish and the psychedelic mandarin fish can be seen swimming in schools—twirling like underwater ballerinas. I couldn’t help but notice that the fishes here were rather flamboyant and unafraid of humans.
If you have more time on the island, do seize the opportunity to explore it on a kayak or go wreck-diving (if you’re an Advanced Open Water Diver).
Green turtle lay eggs
After 7pm, guests are not allowed to walk around the island in order to not disturb turtle activities. Just my luck, a Green Turtle came up to lay eggs that evening and we had the opportunity to witness the egg-laying. After the mother turtle had gone back to the sea, a trained staff collected the eggs to be transferred to a hatchery, located next to the Reef Guardian. The baby turtles will be released to the sea once they hatch.
Wind back after all the activities
All that snorkelling and underwater-exploring soon got me hungry. After freshening up, I head off to the main building to enjoy the Wi-Fi (yes, there is internet connection!) and savour the toothsome. The meals in the restaurant are served buffet-style three times daily. In case you get hungry in between mealtimes, drinks and a range of delicious homemade breads are also available free-flow.
Here for honeymoon?
For honeymooners, the tastefully designed chalets will bring much comfort and romance. Built in rustic architecture, the interiors are presented in minimalistic adornment. The best thing about the chalets is that each room is built overlooking the ocean. Add whipped cream and strawberries, it is picture perfect fantasy! Have I mention the king-size four poster bed?
The next day, it was time for me to head back to the real world. Nonetheless, I wish to return one day—with an Advanced Open Water Diving certification.
For more info, contact:
Pulau Sipadan Resort and Tours Sdn Bhd.,
Shop 1, Ground Floor,
63 Gaya Street,
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Telephone: +6088-316011 / 316013