Gaya Island is an island located 10 kilometres off Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. While people come over to Kota Kinabalu to visit the capital of Sabah, they may drop by Gaya Island during their visit to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Gaya Island is the biggest island in the national park, being covered in thick forest. The island gets its name from the word “gayo” in Bajau which means big. Historically, back in 1882, the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) set up a trading settlement in the island. It was famously destroyed by Mat Salleh in 1897. After the destruction of the Gaya Island harbour, the BNBC decided to move to Jesselton which is later renamed to Kota Kinabalu. Moving forward to 1974, the island is gazetted as Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park alongside Sapi Island. In 1979, this was revised to include the nearby Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Suug Island into the list of gazetted islands. At the same time in the 1970s, refugees from Philippines come flocking over to inhabit the island in order to escape from the south Philippines war. They raised a colony in the eastern part of the island, which is not acknowledged by the state government. Since then, a lot of measures have been taken to deport these refugees or relocate them to a better place. This is in line with the state’s initiative to develop Gaya Island into a tourism hub as part of the Kota Kinabalu development as a metropolitan.
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport, you can take flight on-board with the Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia for a direct flight to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Then you can head downtown using public transportation to the Jesselton Point ferry terminal. From here, one can board a ferry to Gaya Island which would cost around forty ringgit for economy class and fifty ringgit for business class tickets. Locals bringing along their identification card could get up to fifty percent discount for the tickets.
It feels incomplete to talk about Gaya Island without mentioning this park. The marine park is a collection of islands with some beautiful wonders of nature, home to numerous species of wildlife and mesmerizing flora – some of them are actually remaining untouched by human development till this day. To begin with, travellers can do island-hopping around the Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Mamutik Island, Manukan Island and Suug Island with the Jesselton Point terminal as a starting point. There are touring services provided by the tour boat companies with affordable rates.
The Marine Ecology Research Centre is a research, rehabilitation and educational centre for the unique ecology of the ocean and its underwater life. It gained prominence in 2007 when it gets certified by the Malaysia Book of Records as the first of its kind to produce all seven species of clams native to Malaysian waters. Easily accessible from Gaya Island, the place gives the chance for visitors to be able to go up close and understand the marine life better and the impacts the human activities have on their ecosystem.
This accommodation is one of the five-star rated hotels in the island. Situated at the Malohom Bay, the resort offers very nice and comfortable villas for visitors to choose between the ones that provide garden view or sea view. All rooms come with breakfast and high-speed WiFi services as well as concierge and laundry services provided in-house. In-room facilities are generous too; these include cable television, coffee maker, minibar, in-room safe and balcony. There are a lot of facilities provided such as the spa, garden, health club, outdoor pool, picnic area and library. In addition to that, tour services, wedding services and ferry terminal shuttle services are also provided for the visitors.