Gaya Island Resort & Kuching
Spend a few days in Sarawak, before travelling to Gaya Island for time relaxing in one of nature's picturesque settings.
4 nights Kuching, including breakfast and excursion; 7 nights Gaya Island Resort, including breakfast. Includes flights and transfers.
13 days from £1,725pp
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On the beach - 8 days
Gaya Island Resort
Poised between rainforest, golden sands and turquoise sea, the Gaya Island Resort is set on a small island blanketed in lush rainforest and sitting within a marine park. With bright tropical birds, the cries of macaques and views of Mount Kinabalu, it is an ideal Bornean retreat.
The verdant surroundings on Gaya Island offer guests the opportunity to relax in the most pristine environment. Join a guided jungle walk where you might glimpse proboscis monkeys or explore underwater with a marine biologist to see the vibrant coral gardens flourishing in the bay. Relax on the beach or swim in the incredible 40-metre pool overlooking the sand. You can enjoy a specialist treatment in the spa, take a yoga class, try out some non-motorised water sports or take a sunset cruise on a luxury yacht. Dining is something of an experience here. There is a stunning rooftop restaurant offering spectacular views over the sea, a Japanese restaurant perched on a hillside and the Feast Village with a diverse range of Asian-Pacific cuisine. Alternatively, you can dine at Tavajun Bay, a secluded picnic spot a five minute boat ride away.
The luxurious villas feature modern and stylish decor, with views of the ocean, rainforest or mangroves. All have verandas with daybeds.
Before the beach - 3 days
With abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery, the lush rainforest around Kuching is fascinating to explore. Jungle hikes, kayaking and boat trips are all possible, though the undoubted highlight is a trip to Semenggok Orang-utan Sanctuary, one of only three in the world. Another gem, Bako National Park protects a variety of lush habitats and is home to the proboscis monkey, found only in Borneo, and a wide range of colourful birdlife. Kuching itself is a laid-back city with bustling markets, Chinese temples and colonial-era shophouses and makes a good base for adventures further afield.
Formerly a 19th century shophouse, The Ranee Boutique Suites is one of Kuching's few boutique properties. Set in the centre of the Old Town, it tastefully combines contemporary style with warm, colonial touches.
Gaya Island Resort
121 rooms, 2 restaurants, 1 pool
Gaya Island Resort has a lovely island location just off the coast of Borneo. Set on a lush hillside covered in rainforest and surrounded by a marine park, it has an ideal location for those who wish to combine a spot of relaxation with a beautiful natural setting and plenty of local wildlife. A weekly programme of activities offers great opportunities to learn more about the wildlife as well as local traditions. There are also great snorkelling and diving opportunities in the area.
Accommodation consists of clusters of rooms set on stilts across the hillside overlooking the rainforest or the water. There is a choice of two beaches, one at the resort and another in a private bay just around the headland. The spa is excellent and there is a choice of dining as well as a range of water sports on offer.
Families are welcome and there is a kids' club that runs for four hours during the day and again in the evening. Babysitting can also be arranged and there is a fee for both this and the kids’ club.
Gaya Island Resort is located on Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park; a wonderful setting that makes the resort a great base for snorkelling and diving trips.
The resort is spread across a steep hillside covered with lush rainforest, with an abundance of plants and wildlife. The main beach is a long stretch of white sand with a house reef just off shore and there is a second, private beach at Tavajun Bay that offers a beautifully natural setting that generally feels a little more secluded and peaceful. The resort runs a regular boat shuttle to Tavajun Bay that takes about five minutes.
The location feels quite secluded as there are no other facilities on the island except a handful of resorts that are a boat ride away, however the mainland is only 10 minutes by speedboat with the skyline of Kota Kinabalu visible from the resort. The stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu is also visible in the distance.
With a beautiful setting, great range of activities and excellent spa, this resort suits both those seeking relaxation and those wishing to be more active and is ideally placed for a beach stay after seeing the wildlife in Borneo or climbing Mount Kinabalu.
Please note that we do not recommend this resort for those with mobility difficulties due to the number of steps around the resort and its location on a steep hillside without a buggy service.
The rooms are very spacious with a smart decor that combines modern elements with local materials and a nod to traditional Asian design. Each offers a well sized outdoor veranda or balcony with day beds while the interior is equipped with a flat screen TV, minibar, coffee and tea making facilities and a safe.
The rooms nestle in the rainforest, generally in small clusters of four rooms together. As they are spread across a hillside, many of them are around ten minutes from the resort's main facilities, and the walkway is steep in parts. There are also a lot of steps around the main areas and to get to the villas nearest the beach so we do not recommend the resort for those who are less mobile.
These are spacious rooms of 47m2 set on the hillside amongst the mangroves, within walking distance of the resort's beach.
Enjoying a spot on the hillside, surrounded by rainforest, these 47m2 rooms have views of either the tree tops or the mangroves. Connecting rooms are available for families.
These rooms are 47m2 with views out over the South China Sea and Mount Kinabalu in the distance.
Two-bedroom Suria Suite
The enormous and luxurious 188 square metre Two Bedroom Suria Suite is on two levels, with the main draw card being its huge outdoor veranda overlooking the sea and Mount Kinabalu beyond.
On the ground floor you'll find the lounge area, a private dining room with pantry, a TV room and a powder room. The upstairs has two large bedrooms, each with en suite bathroom and walk in wardrobe. To top it off there's an outdoor bath on the balcony.
Pictures of the rooms
Activities, diving & excursions
One of the hotel’s highlights is the range of activities on offer on their weekly programme. Free guided nature walks with the resident naturalist are available daily and are a great way of discovering the natural beauty of the island. If you are feeling a little more energetic you can also join the naturalist on a trek through the jungle to Tavajun Bay.
Other activities range from kakaying through the mangroves and various classes where you can learn more about local crafts and cooking to a sunset cruise on a luxury motor yacht.
Snorkelling equipment is available for those who would like to explore the house reef just off shore and the resort runs snorkelling tours to the marine park several times a week. Single and double kayaks are available, while on land there is a small gym and free yoga classes. Or of course you could simply relax by the ocean view pool.
Please note some of the activities incur a charge locally.
The resort works with a PADI dive centre who collect guests from the pier for daily trips and are available for questions and information at the resort each day. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is a great diving area with a choice of over 25 dive sites to explore. The coral reefs lie in shallow waters with gentle currents, making it an ideal location for novice divers, but the wide variety of, sometimes rare, marine creatures also make it an interesting dive location for experienced divers and underwater photographers. Forests of tall scarlet sea whips, colourful barrel sponges, gorgonian fans and bushy black coral cover the slopes and seabed. Amongst the colourful reefs you may come across clown fish, barracudas, jacks, giant clams, blue-spotted rays, mantis shrimps, nudibranches, and the occasional green or hawksbill turtle can be spotted.
Food & drink
Feast Village is the main restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each meal is served as a buffet although there are often live cooking stations where chefs will be happy to create tailor-made Asian rice and noodle dishes from a variety of fresh ingredients for you.
The Pool Bar Lounge is a second option for lunch overlooking the pool and beach and serving a range of Western and Asian dishes from snacks and salads to satay and burgers.
Fisherman's Cove is on the resort's rooftop with far reaching views out over the sea. This fine dining restaurant, open only in the evenings, serves an a la carte menu of seafood dishes and children under 16 are not allowed.
Omakase is a teppanyaki-style, Japanese restaurant that seats guests together around the traditional iron griddle to watch the chef prepare their dinner. There are two sittings each evening and just a small number of guests can be accommodated at each sitting so booking early is recommended.
There is also a relaxed, beach restaurant at the resort’s private beach on Tavajun Bay, just five minutes boat ride from the resort. Here they serve a set lunch menu of Asian dishes cooked on charcoal fires that changes daily. Alternatively you can order a personalised gourmet picnic that they will deliver to you at Tavajun Bay.
The extensive spa is another highlight at the resort and a peaceful, welcoming retreat. The spa uses fresh local ingredients in its treatments, which include rice scrubs, and techniques inspired by local people such as the Kadazandusun and Bajau sea nomads.
Small and charming, and located on the banks of the Sarawak River, Kuching is the capital of Sarawak and one of our favourite cities.
It has a fascinating history - Rajah Brookes ruled from here until 1946 - and colonial buildings dot the streets, whilst Chinese temples add their incense shrouded touches of the Orient. Many of the greatest sights are laid out on the heritage trail that links temples and churches, Fort Margherita and the stately Istana Palace.
Most impressive is the Sarawak Museum, whose extensive collection includes tribal artefacts, a display of indigenous wildlife and a recreated longhouse. Cookery courses are also available if you wish to learn how to prepare some of Malaysia’s tastiest dishes.
Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
From Kuching you may wish to pay a visit to the excellent Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, one of few places in Sarawak to see orang-utans.
Bako National Park
The smallest but oldest of all Sarawak’s national parks, the rivers and jungles of Bako National Park are easily accessible by boat on a day trip from Kuching. Views of the rocky outcrops of this wonderful coastal park are brought into sharp focus by sailing amongst the mangroves and landing to explore on foot. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including bearded pigs, over 150 species of birds and the rare proboscis monkey.
Ranee Boutique Suites
Accommodation: Ranee Boutique Suites
The Ranee is one of Kuching's few boutique properties, located in the centre of the city's Old Town. Formerly a 19th century shop house, the hotel tastefully combines contemporary style with warm, colonial touches in relaxed spaces such as The Reading Lounge.
As well as its Standard and Deluxe Rooms, the Ranee also offers as a choice of individually designed Suites some of which feature luxurious and free standing bathtubs.
Day by day
Fly to Kuching.
On arrival in Kuching, you will be transferred by private vehicle to your hotel. Settle in and explore some of the busy markets and Chinese temples.
Spend a full day exploring beautiful Bako National Park with your private guide. The lush rainforest is home to abundant wildlife including proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo, and macaques.
Today you will visit Semenggok Orangu-tan sanctuary to learn more about these fascinating animals. Perhaps one of the closest relatives to humans, orang-utans are found only in Borneo and Indonesia.
This morning you will enjoy a private culinary tour of Kuching, sampling local dishes and visiting the spice market.
In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Kota Kinabalu. You will be met at the airport and drive to Sutera Harbour for the speedboat ride over to Gaya Island.
Relax and settle into this beautiful resort or enjoy the daily nature walk. You might like to take a trip to the resort's private beach at Tavajun Bay and see the turtle sanctuary there.
Spend some time snorkelling on the house reef or enjoy a pampering treatment at the beautiful spa. Tonight why not take a sunset cruise or arrange for a private dinner overlooking the ocean.
Days 8 - 11
Day at leisure.
A speedboat will take you back to the harbour, in order to meet your transfer back to the airport.
Arrival back home.
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