Would you call this an island? Layang-Layang’s isolation makes it one of Asia’s best diving experiences.
Little more than a coral reef with a runway, the tiny island of Layang-Layang is located some 300 kilometers northwest of the Sabah capital of Kota Kinabalu (KK), the state to which it belongs.
A creation of the Malaysian Navy, which reclaimed land from the sea in order to state the nation’s sovereignty over the Spratlys, that South China Sea island group also claimed whole or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Surrounded by pristine waters that drop to 2,000 meters, Layang-Layang is often ranked as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world due to its remarkable array of marine life.
Due to the Navy’s presence, the coral reef has been spared the explosive damage caused by dynamite fishing and other destructive practices, leading to underwater visibility of more than 40 meters.
Particularly of note are the schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks, which can sometimes number in the hundreds, though you can also expect to see manta rays, dolphins, barracuda and turtles.
Where to stay: Easy one to answer. At the only game in town, the traditional-styled Layang Layang Island Resort run by the Avillion group.
Getting there: The only way in and out of this Malaysia island is on a charter flight from Kota Kinbalu, with the price included in the various packages offered by the only place to stay on the island.