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Gaya Island Resort, Gaya Island

Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island, Borneo

Responsible Choice

We've hand-selected a range of tours and stays across the world that go above and beyond to be a force for good by supporting local businesses, educating staff, challenging local norms, or promoting conservation and biodiversity efforts. Your Responsible Choice helps increase the positive impact of your trip.

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, or simply to relax and enjoy a tropical, natural setting.

The resort, well-known for its commitment to ecologically sustainable practices, is spread across a steep hillside covered with lush rainforest, with an abundance of plants and wildlife. The main beach is a long but narrow 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 is generally feels a little more secluded and peaceful. The resort runs a regular boat shuttle to Tavajun Bay that takes about five minutes. Please note the main beach is prone to tidal fluctuations caused by rising water levels.

Committed to leading the way in conservation, the resort runs both a marine and wildlife centre advocating rescue, restoration and local conservation through education.


A really pretty resort with great facilities, this is a great choice for combining with seeing the wildlife in Borneo or climbing Mount Kinabalu.

OUR RATING: First Class

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The spacious rooms have a smart, modern decor that also makes use of local materials and elements in their design. Each offers an outdoor veranda with day beds and amenities such as a flat-screen TV, minibar, coffee and tea making facilities and a safe.


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.

The guest rooms nestle in the rainforest, generally in small clusters of four rooms together, set on stilts across the hillside overlooking the rainforest or the water. The rooms are very spacious with a smart decor that combines eco-minded design elegance and 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. For guests wanting twin rooms, the hotel only offers 'Hollywood twin' bed set up (two twin mattresses together on the raised bed platform).

Food and drink

A choice of dining options are available, including Feast Village, 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. While 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 á la carte menu of seafood dishes and children under 16 are not allowed. Smart-casual wear is required at this restaurant and gentlemen are asked to wear full-length trousers, shirt and shoes.

For a more special experience, 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. Lastly, there is 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.


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 for and there is a fee for both this and the kids’ club.

Facilities and activities

One of the hotel’s highlights is the range of activities on offer on their weekly program, offering opportunities to learn more about the wildlife as well as local traditions. There are also great snorkelling and diving opportunities in the area. Free guided nature walks with the resident naturalist are available daily and 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 kayaking 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 which is a recommended highlight. Please note some of the activities incur a charge locally.

For those interested in water activities, 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 also available. The resort also 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, colorful barrel sponges, gorgonian fans and bushy black coral cover the slopes and seabed. Amongst the colorful reefs you may come across clown fish, barracudas, jacks, giant clams, blue-spotted rays, mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, and the occasional green or hawksbill turtle can be spotted.

Back at the resort, a small gym is on hand providing complimentary yoga classes, or of course you could simply relax by the ocean view pool, or perhaps be tempted by the extensive spa, 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.


Some of the rooms can be around ten minutes from the resort's main facilities, and the walkway is steep in parts. If you have any concerns with the walking involved, please do speak to your specialist.

Tour ideas in Gaya Island

Our itineraries are there to spark ideas for how you could include a stay at Gaya Island Resort as part of your trip. Treat them simply as suggestions, because every aspect of the trip we create for you will be yours to define.

Location & places nearby

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    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favorite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

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