Gaya Island Kota Kinabalu or Pulau Gaya Sabah is the largest of the five islands that forms Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Sabah, Malaysia. Also refer as a virgin island because of rich and untouched coral reef, Pulau Gaya Sabah is 10 mins away from the main city of Kota Kinabalu and provides a unique experience to nature & marine life lovers.
About Gaya Island Kota Kinabalu
Gaya Island Kota Kinabalu is mainly covered with the dense tropical forest that span in the area of 1465 hectares. Gaya Island has been a forest reserve since 1923. In 1974, it became part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park along with Sapi Island. Gaya Island is famous for many things and we have highlighted some of the popular ones down below.
Gaya Island Borneo offers white sandy crumbly beaches and crystal clear water which is ideal for swimming & snorkeling. The 400 meter long renowned Police Beach is quite popular among tourists. It will remind you of the beaches in Hawaii. There is a clear visibility up to a few meters in the water.
Tavajun Bay is another beach which is 5 mins boat ride away from Gaya Island. This is an ideal spot for a picnic as it not crowded at all and provides a great view of the sea.
Related Article: Best Beaches in Kota Kinabalu
What is there to do at the beach when the water is as clear as crystal? Snorkeling offcourse. That’s why the Gaya Island Sabah is a preferred choice for snorkels in Kota Kinabalu. You will be able to see plenty of fish & marine life within a few meters of the beach. If you’re a resident of one of the resorts on Gaya Island then you can book their snorkeling package which will provide you with the needed gears and a guide.
3. Scuba Diving
The coral reef near the Gaya Island Kota Kinabalu is untouched as compared to the other islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. You can explore a great deal of coral reef nearby Gaya Island and for the same reason it is a highly recommended and preferred destination for scuba diving lovers in Kota Kinabalu. Again, if you’re a resident of one of the resorts on Gaya Island then you can avail their scuba diving package.
4. Luxury Resorts
Gaya Island Malaysia is also a home of best luxury resorts in Kota Kinabalu, so if you’re planning your honeymoon, anniversary or similar occasion, then a weekend stay in one of the resorts on Gaya Island is highly recommended. These resorts are not only five stars, but they also let you explore Gaya Island in great detail. You can choose to stay at Gayana Eco Resort, Gaya Island Resort by YTL or Bunga Raya Island Resort.
These resorts provide one story and two story villa facing the sea, large swimming pool, spa, gym, kids play area, reading room, recreational facilities and packages to explore the wealth of Gaya Island. The average night stay in these resorts is expensive as compared to other hotels / resorts in Kota Kinabalu but it’s worth the experience, especially if you have an occasion to celebrate.
5. Hiking Trail
Gaya Island Kotao Kinabalu provides 20 km of hiking trail which is longer than the combine hiking trail of rest of four islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The dense forest of Gaya Island and long hiking trails makes it an ideal destination for explorer and researcher. You can interact with the nature, discover species & store them in your camera.
6. View of Mount Kinabalu
There are few places in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah that provides a perfect view of Mount Kinabalu and Gaya Island is one of them. The view is even greater during the sunset and sunrise, so make sure to spot a place where you can capture a great view of Mount Kinabalu. That place might be a balcony of the villa you’re staying in.
Related Article: Mount Kinabalu Climb Tips
7. Coral Flyer
Recently a new activity opened on Pulau Gaya Sabah by the name Coral Flyer. It is a zip lining that will take you from Gaya Island to Sapi Island in less than a minute at the speed of 55 km/hr. The 235 meter long zip lining is a thrill ride that transports you from one island to another.
How to get to Gaya Island
You can get to Gaya Island Kota Kinabalu from Sutera Harbour, if you have booked a villa in one of the resorts on Gaya Island. There is a return boat transfer that will take you to the island.
If you haven’t booked a resort on Gaya Island then you can’t explore much of the Island as it is not open to the public as compared to the other islands. If you have booked an activity on the Gaya Island like Coral Flyer, lunch or a spa treatment, then you can get to the island from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal as well. The return ticket will cost you around RM 23 (US $6) per adult & RM 18 (US $5) per children.
Fun Facts about Pulau Gaya Sabah
These are some of the fun facts of Gaya Island.
- From the aerial view, Gaya Island along with Sapi & Manukan Island looks like a happy smiling face.
- Gaya Island was the home of British North Borneo Company trading settlement. It was attacked and destroyed in 1898 by Mat Salleh (a local folk hero). North Borneo Company then moved to the mainland to Kota Kinabalu.
- There are more than 6000 floating wood houses on the eastern shore of Gaya Island. A large community of Filipinos, Bajau & Suluk lives there. The majority of them are illegal immigrants & the area is considered as no-go area for locals & tourists.
Gaya Island in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is no doubt a luxury travel destination in Sabah. Please share your experience if you have been to Gaya Island by adding comments below. If you’re planning a trip & have some questions, feel free to ask as well.