North East of Sabah in the Sulu Sea lies Lankayan Island. This tiny island, and its surrounding islands, Pulau Billean, Tegipill and Bungkuruan have recently been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), under the SUGUD Islands Marine Conservation Area. Visitors here will experience a real sense of untouched tropical paradise where between diving and snorkeling one can explore the small rainforest or relax on the endless white beach which completely surrounds the island. Due to the extremely colourful macro fauna and coral scenery, Lankayan has become popular amongst photographers, and its calm waters make it and ideal stop to learn to dive. Another reason to visit Lankayan between March and May is that visitors have a good chance of coming face to face with a whale shark or two!
In Lankayan, one of the most popular dive sites is Jaw fish Lair, which is just 4 to 5 minutes boat ride from Lankayan jetty. Some of the common sightings are of course the giant jaw fish itself, normally they show just their head out of their rubble burrow, although sometimes the feisty little characters venture further out and display their whole bodies. Sting rays, snappers, groupers, anemone fish, fusilier, trumpet fish, and nudibranches. Rare sightings include blue ribbon eel, ghost pipe fish (seasonal), juvenile cat fish, peacock mantis shrimp, and turtle. It is possible that some of the species found here are yet to be described. Pelagic also abound here, from large schools of scads, yellow tail barracudas, jacks, and many more.
This wreck of a small fishing boat lies right in front of the jetty and is marked by a guide rope. Any time of the day or night you can make a giant stride into the water, right of the end of the pier and explore the wreck for yourself. Before you reach the small fishing boat down below you'll see schools of batfish and jacks. The conditions are usually calm so this dive is suitable for most levels of experience. The dive reaches a depth of 20 meters. Just follow the shot line down. The wreck itself is home to Ghost Pipefish and camouflaged frogfish, as well as many nudibranchs. Also look for lionfish lurking around the jetty's pillars.
This dive reaches a depth of 25 meters. The ship at this site was once part of Japan's World War II Mosquito Fleet. Plenty of fish have made this wreck home, today it is home to jacks and barracuda. However take a moment to appreciate the boat itself. The bow gun is still intact as are other parts of the ship. The wreck still has some bits and pieces of the original. It is a great place for small creatures and, in contrast, it is also an area where you may see a manta ray or whale shark.
This Lankayan diving site is quite a shallow dive at 15-23 meters, so is suitable for most levels of divers. It located about 8 minutes boat ride from Lanykayan Jetty. Many rare subjects can be found including seahorses. Flying gurnards, flamboyant cuttlefish, Jaw fish, dragonets and sand divers. It is not a surprise to also see the occasional hawksbill or green turtle on one of your dives. Though sightings of sharks are still quite rare, spiky-toothed barracudas and schools of jacks have already returned, making great subjects for wide-angle photographers.