This one is unique ! This is the only one in Malaysia’s Sulu Sea. This one is special. It is a MACRO WORLD PARADISE.



Lankayan Island is a virtually uninhabited island, located deep into the Sulu Seas off the North-Eastern coast of  Sabah in Malaysia.The normal route to the island is through Kota Kinabalu International airport. There are also direct flights to Sandakan from KL on AirAsia. From KK,  a connecting flight takes the guest to Sandakan where a transfer is made to the jetty to board the twin engine fibre glass boat to Lankayan Island, a journey of about 75 minutes on good seas. Note that there is only one boat transfer to Lankayan each day, departing Sandakan jetty at 10.00 hrs. Depending on arrival time, you may need to spend a night in either KK or Sandakan.


Baby Black Tip sharks at Lankayan Island


Lankayan Island is a true Macro world paradise. Saved are large stretches of beautiful hard and soft corals belonging to numerous genera, among which are multitudes of macro world subjects and juvenile fishes, colourful to the extreme. It is possible that some of the species found here are as yet undescribed. Pelagics also abound here, from large schools of scads, yellow tail barracudas, jacks, and many more. The many schools of medium to large humphead parrotfish are always exciting to encounter. Sometimes, the diver is lucky enough to meet large rays, guitarfish and even manatees.

For those more inclined towards the smaller denizens of the reefs, there are numerous juvenile fishes, clown anemone fishes, decorator and spider crabs, coral shrimps, nudibranchs, prawn gobies and such rarer subjects as jawfish, ornate ghost pipefish and frogfish.



Divers are sure to appreciate the remaining large stretches of unspoilt lettuce and staghorn and other hard corals, the many varieties of soft corals, feather stars, sponges, sea fans etc. The many different types of anemones and their different partners, the clown anemone fish, shrimp and porcelain crabs are a sight.In all, there are about 30 dive sites, generally shallow to medium depths. There are three totally different wrecks which are full of fish large and small. The “Lankayan Wreck” was an ocean going fish poaching vessel, appropriately demised in the area of its illegal activities. It is now the base for numerous fish, from small cardinals and yellow pikes to large groupers, cobias and emperors. A very impressive site and at only 23 meters. Look for the ornate ghost pipefish here.

The “Mosquito Wreck” was originally part of the Mosquito plane fleet maintained by the Japanese during the Second World War. The wreck has some great items of interest including an intact bow gun and part of its original cargo. Fish life is prolific. It lies at a depth of 15-25 metres.The “Pier Wreck” is an artificial reef created by a small fishing boat deliberately placed out in front of the pier. All dive sites accessible from Lankayan are within 10-20 minutes from the pier. Reef Dive sites accessible from Lankayan include:

  • Bimbo Rock
  • Lost Reef
  • Kens Rock
  • Twin City
  • Jawfish Lair – a resident pair of Jawfish can be seen aerating their eggs in the mouth of the male.
  • Malu Malu
  • Ant and Ant
  • Supermarket
  • Froggie Fort
  • Coral Gardens
  • Fan Garden



Lankayan Island is a small island fully covered with tropical vegetation, featuring tall casuarina trees and the ubiquitous pandan screwpine. The island is pristine, not having suffered human occupation for long, and has some interesting fauna subjects. The island is a great place to explore or simply to relax. Welcome to Asia’s best kept secret.

Lankayan Island 1



Lankayan Island scuba diving season runs all year round, with the best time to visit for whale shark sightings being between April and May. The water temperature lies around 26 degrees C or more year round.


Lankayan Island is part of the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA) which covers approximately 46300 ha. It was declared a conservation area in December 2001. The area is jointly managed by Sabah State Wildlife Department and private sector representatives. Lankayan is also governed by an extensive management plan to ensure sustainable use of resources and environmentally friendly tourism policies. Among other things, SIMCA representatives enforce a no fishing policy in the area, protect Turtles and their eggs, ensure a no anchoring policy for boats and limit tourist numbers and tourist facilities. Lankayan Resort used environmental consultants to design and implement waste management and recycling methods, build rainwater collection areas and ensure continued health of island flora. The results are positive and visible – healthy corals and rich vegetation.

Our thanks to Lankayan Island Resort for use of the photographs and assistance in preparing this information