Discover sandy beaches, turquoise bays and coral reefs teeming with marine life on Gaya Island. Set within Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, the island is part of an archipelago marooned in the South China Sea. Swim with colourful tropical fish, explore verdant rainforest trails and spot local wildlife, including monkeys and monitor lizards. Visit the island on a day trip or book a room at one of the luxury resorts and stay overnight.
Things to do in Gaya Island
The snorkeling around Gaya Island is incredible and feels like diving into an aquarium. You’ll be amazed by schools of colourful tropical fish, including orange-and-white striped clownfish. Swim with rainbow-coloured parrotfish and marvel at enormous sea fans and sponges. Kayaks are a fun way to explore the jewel-toned bays around Gaya Island.
Diving immerses you in the amazing underwater ecosystem. Sign up for a beginner course or book a dive if you have more experience. Local tour operators take you to the best dive sites in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, as well as coral reefs, shoals and shipwrecks further afield.
Walking trails wind through the island’s lush, rainforest-covered interior. Spot local wildlife, including exotic birds and macaque monkeys. You can also see enormous monitor lizards basking on the rocks. If you’re lucky, you might see long-nosed proboscis monkeys swinging through the trees.
Visit the Marine Ecology Research Centre at Gaya Island Resort to learn about the turtle rescue and coral reef rehabilitation programs. It’s a fun and educational introduction to the unique underwater ecosystem of Gaya Island.
Restaurants on Gaya Island are passionate about sustainable seafood. Enjoy dishes like grilled seabass served with spicy sambal, prawns topped with mango salsa and “sotong kangkung” cuttlefish with water spinach.
Getting around Gaya Island
There are no cars on Gaya Island. Instead, you can get around on foot or by boat. Resorts offer guided tours of the island and ferries run between Kota Kinabalu and Gaya Island in around 15 minutes.