Lankayan ….. peace, beauty, idyllic surroundings and cool sea….

We went to Lankayan, having spent ten days or so at Kapalai, Sipadan, travelling by road via the Orang-utan sanctuary at Sepilok where we stayed one night before arriving at Sandakan to take a boat ride of an hour and a half out to the island resort.

This is a great place to go, both for a scuba diving vacation as well as just a place to go on holiday and lie on the beach sunbathing and swimming or snorkelling. It is an altogether simpler place than Kapalai, and from what I could see of the other resorts we passed close to Sipadan, a few of the resorts around that area too.

The resort is on a small island which takes about half an hour to walk around the entire circumference at a leisurely pace. So it is not the place to go if you want a lot of entertainment or outside distractions – it is very laid back! The typically shallow waters surrounding the island are perfect for snorkelling and the juvenile black tip sharks are abundant.

The turtle breeding program ensures you will very likely see a batch of turtles hatch and released to scurry into the waters off the island. We witnessed female turtles come in from the sea to lay their eggs at least twice during our stay. Walking around the island at night is not permitted to ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed – the turtles we saw laying, came in and laid their eggs under the cabanas earlyish in the evening.

The resort dive centre is a well run, efficient operation, whilst maintaining a friendly and relaxed 'island life' atmosphere. In short an ideal place to take a scuba vacation.

Dive locations

Lankayan has at least 14 dive locations which were pristine, all of the dive sites are mere minutes from the island so no hardship in getting to and from them. The staff are also quite happy to discuss which dive site you want to dive, depending on what you want to see. They certainly display a desire to make your scuba dive vacation what You want it to be.....

They are as follows:

  1. Bimbo Rock
  2. Lost Reef
  3. Ken's Rock
  4. Mosquito Wreck
  5. Twin City
  6. Jawfish Lair
  7. Malu Malu
  8. And & Ant
  9. Supermarket Group
  10. Lankayan Wreck
  11. Ricky Rock
  12. Froggie Fort
  13. Coral Garden
  14. Fan Garden

    All of the diving here is easy diving, suitable for the most inexperienced diver, only one location had any current to speak of and the sites are very similar. Most locations have a particular species which inhabits that site to make the location unique from all of the others. Each site had enough to keep a diver happy for more than one excursion, as I say - a great place for thatone of those really laid back diving vacations.

    The area has both hard and soft corals of many types and genus. We noticed there seemed to be a lot of juveniles of various species at all sites, with the reef life in what appeared to be good health and no sign of fishing or as in some other areas of Malaysia - dynamiting.

    We saw interesting species such as Ghost pipefish, Jawfish, frog fish, cuttlefish, various types of nudibranchs, many types of gobies and numerous other macro species. It was almost a case of, we want to see 'this species' and they could take us to a site where it lived.

    We saw quite a lot of sharks, both black and white tip as well as leopard shark and nurse sharks. Some dive sites had literally schools of blue spotted rays.

    Lankayan offers ample opportunity for the macro-photography enthusiast and the dive masters are more than happy to assist in locating species of interest ( we saw many types of crustacean which we had not seen before). Almost every spot or piece of coral, soft or hard, had some creature to see, the feather-stars had little crustaceans living in amongst their fronds.

    Some vital information:

    Water Temperature:

    Year round 26 - 29° Celsius


    3mm is ample, I dived in a T-Shirt and shorts a few times without any cold setting in during the hour or so underwater.


    It can vary anywhere from 15m to forever…. The water is very rich in plankton at times of the year so can close down the visibility a bit.

    Types of Diving:

    Wreck dives (small and house reef),Reef Dives.


    All year round


    Equatorial with fairly uniform temperatures year-round, ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Humidity is high (85-95%). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm and most rain can be expected between November and February.

    Overall Lankayan is a very laid back and relaxing place for a diving vacation and like all the Malaysians we met, a super bunch of people.

    I would recommend a stay of about five days, ideal to go if you have non-diving partners or children as well as for beginner divers.

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