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Lankayan Island Diving

Dive Sites of Borneo

For scuba divers looking for a remote and quiet tropical paradise, Lankayan Island is the place for you. The island is a frontier destination in the Sulu Sea. It offers the triple pleasures of macro diving - with its foray into the underwater macroworld paradise - as well as some excellent reef and wreck dives that offer encounters with larger pelagic species like the whale shark.

A lionfish displays its venomous fin spines in front of a riot of reef colour and activity at Lankayan

Lankayan's reefs offer fantastic coral reefs and fish life too. You'll find lettuce coral and staghorn coral. Also around are anemones, clown fish, shrimp, seahorses, flying gurnards, jawfish and porcelain crabs. Wreck diving is another highlight, with a number of wrecks around the coastline. Divers have both penetrations into the hull as well as observing a different kind of life on deck to look forward to.

Macro diving offers the opportunity to flirt with the more bizarre and unusual marine life to be found. Jawfish Lair is a colourful mosaic of healthy hard corals, and lots of activity from small marine creatures including mimic octopus and nudibranchs by the dozen, are what's in store for you here. But the most novel feature of the site are the yellow jawfish that reside here. These little lovelies are readily identifiable by the profusion of offspring delicately lodged in their protective mouths.

The Lankayan Dive Sites

Jawfish Lair is a colourful mosaic of healthy hard corals, and lots of activity including marine creatures like mimic octopus and nudibranchs by the dozen. Also keep an eye out for ghost pipefish, devil scorpionfish and even the occasional leopard shark resting on the sandy sea bed.

However, the most interesting feature of the site is the yellow jawfish that reside here. These little lovelies are readily identifiable by the profusion of offspring delicately lodged in their protective mouths. It is quite something to see so many little transparent eggs cradled carefully in the jawfish's tender jaws.

Previously employed in fish poaching, Lankayan Wreck now provides a safe haven to innumerable marine creatures. All levels of scuba diver can enjoy this wreck as it lies in shallow water and is not one that requires penetration to enjoy its delights. You can spot various different fish species here including yellow sea perch and groupers.

There are also resident ornate ghost pipefish that seem to enjoy life in the sheltered spots of the wreck. Although the visibility is seldom impressive here, it is worth looking off into the distance where you might be able to spy barracuda or bump-head parrotfish in the blue.

Pegaso Reef was once heavily bombed although the reef damage is now all but invisible, such has been the regeneration of the area. One indicator of reef health is said to be the presence of giant clams, and there are several of them here.

Schools of jacks and fusiliers will catch your eye as they sweep around the reef, while black-tip reef sharks patrol the reef's edge. Meanwhile on the reef, keep an eye out for many of the critters that characterise Lankayan diving. Worthy of special mention here are the bright yellow leaffish that are often spotted at this site, making it a favourite of photographers.

Goby Rock – As the name suggests, gobies are present here in large numbers. This is a great site for observing the symbiotic relationship of shrimp-goby partnerships as they guard/clean their co-habitations.

While you are close to the sandy floor you will notice the many blue-spotted stingrays here and maybe the occasional jawfish and several nudibranchs. Look out for whitetip reef sharks patrolling the reef edge. You will end this dive in a shallow coral garden bursting with colour and life.

Dive The World Malaysia Recommendations: Jawfish Lair and Mosquito Wreck.

More detailed information on the Lankayan diving sites on our website.

Staying at Lankayan

Lankayan is popular with couples seeking a romantic getaway and families wanting a safe island environment where the kids can run around freely. Every day is a laid-back day on a tropical island doing a few fun and easy dives in the sparkling surrounding waters.

Special rates apply at this resort for Malaysians, Singaporeans and expatriates living in those countries with work permits.

The Lankayan Dive Season

The Lankayan Island scuba diving season runs all year round, with the best time to visit for increasing your chances of whale shark sightings being between April and May.

How to Get There

Sandakan is the airport you need to fly into for Lankayan. There are daily direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan.

Many people come via Kota Kinabalu, the state capital, which is very well connected to cities throughout Asia. There are daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan where you will be met and transferred to the resort, if you arrive early enough to make the 10:00 am transfer.

Pulau Lankayan Reef Basics

Great for: Wrecks, small animals, underwater photography and beginner divers
Not so great for: Non-diving activities
Depth: 5 - 30m
Visibility: 3 - 25m
Currents: Moderate
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 26°C
Experience Level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 14
Access: Lankayan dive resort
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 7 days


Local Contact Office: 4th Floor, Room 422-424 Wisma Sabah
Kota Kinabalu 88300, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Tel.: +66 (0)81 082 4780/(0)83 505 7794