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Lankayan Island Borneo: A Divers Paradise

An hour and half journey north from the town of Sarawak in Sabah Borneo, lies a jewel in the sea, glinting smugly against a backdrop of azure sea and palm fronds this coral flanked gem of the Sulu sea is a divers paradise.

Kick back

Lankayan Island is notably small, and as such there is only one place to kick off your flip flops and lay down your head, the Lankayan Island Dive resort. 16 wooden beach cabins line the bleach-white sand which borders the Island’s dense vegetation. After a day spent seeking out dive sites a beach hammock or deck chair on this virgin-like isle is heaven on earth. Meals of fresh-caught snapper and rainbow fish are served in the restaurant overlooking he juvenile black tipped sharks in the shallows and the sunset bar offers the perfect setting for a G&T or group BBQ with panoramic views of the Sulu Sea.


Image courtesy of olcoge from Flickr

Under the sea

With 32 dive sites, 3 wrecks, an abundance of Macro life and marine park protected status, there’s life to be found under the waves. Most of the dive sites are fairly shallow at between 5 and 20 meters visibility, expect to see schools of tropical fish, rays, harmless reef sharks and clusters of neon coral visible even from the shoreline. The Lankayan Dive resort can organise dive trips to any or all of the comically named sites surrounding the island. Just next to ‘Ray City’ those with a penchant for piracy will enjoy sneaking around the Lankayan wreck, the remains of an illegal poaching vessel 28 meters below sea level, which a collection of groupers, yellow pikes and ornate ghost pipefish now call home.

Turtle time

Lankayan Island is located within the Sea Turtle corridor, so during the summer months it may also be possible to catch the infamous entry into the world of hundreds of baby Hawksbill and Green Turtles whose eggs are laid on the sand. Those who come hoping to be privy to turtle hatching can visit the Island’s hatchery where eggs are safeguarded for 60 days. In the wild the turtles would bury their eggs just under the sand but this way the island can ensure these endangered fascinating animals can get the best start in life, and help boost the population at the same time.

Other activities

It’s not all about the dive here, although that is the main draw visitors can simply spend the day drifting on the surface with a snorkel if they prefer and in some of the shallower sites like the nearby sandbar or Lycia garden it is still possible to spot an array of glowing anemone, captivating clown fish and the illuminated claws of a porcelain crab. Take a day off diving to sprawl on the beach, walk the soufflé sand of the Island or hire kayaks and glide between the reefs and sandbars at a leisurely pace.

Whatever reason Lankayan attracts it’s visitors, be it the paradisiacal vistas from the shore, the chance to be marooned from civilisation for a while or the world renowned dive sites offering PADI professional guides and the chance to get close to a network of colourful underwater flora and fauna, a visit to Lankayan Island will never be forgotten.

Author | Emilee is a travel writer, specialising in Borneo Holidays. When she is not travelling she enjoys creative writing and reading.

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