Holidays to Gaya Island, Borneo

Gaya Island sits within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in northern Borneo. It sprawls across the landscape, a luscious green forest that has mushroomed across this giant land, juxtaposed against the surrounding water villages of the crystal clear South China Sea.

Famed for its size, 15 km² (3,700 acres) with an elevation of up to 300 metres, Gaya Island was named after the Bajau word 'Gaya' which means ‘big’. And it’s easy to see why - with 20km of hiking trails, get ready to lose yourself in the greenery of the jungle. If cooling off is more your thing, incredible coral reefs can be found in abundance around the island, offering colourful underwater vistas. Underwater fauna and fish frolic under the stilt houses of the island, making the seas perfect for snorkelling and further afield, diving.

Retreating inland, cliffs, gorges and ridges await intrepid travellers, navigated through the never-ending forest which offers tantalising glimpses of the animals this island is famous for, from huge web-spinning moths to the walking catfish that can travel short distances across the land. Being such an ecological treasure trove, there are many initiatives aimed at protecting native species, particularly the vulnerable turtle population which are cared for at the rescue and rehabilitation centre on the island. If relaxing is more your thing, head to the island's best beach - Police Beach. The 400 metre stretch of white sand gently slopes out to the sea and is a great spot for a cooling dip in the crystal clear waters.

From various points on the island you can gaze at the outline of Mount Kinabalu across the water on the mainland and with a well-used ferry terminal at hand, the ability to explore the surrounding cluster of islands of the Marine Park is never far away. 

Highlights

  • Trek along 20km of hiking trails

  • Glimpse a sight of the natives, the orangutans, in this unspoilt forest

  • Enjoy white sands and a crystal clear swim at Police Beach

Katie
Travel Designer
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My first sighting of a wild orangutan in Malaysian Borneo will stay with me forever. Subsequently spotting pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and saltwater crocodiles was an incredibly special bonus!

Gaya Island trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas to Gaya Island. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777

Places to stay on Gaya Island

Here are some of our favourite accommodation options in Gaya Island. All of our hotels and lodges are hand-picked by our Travel Designers. Need help deciding where to stay during your trip? Call our Travel Designers now and they’ll help you pick the best hotels suited to your needs: 020 3510 5777

Map of Gaya Island

When to go to Gaya Island

If you're a sunseeker, the best time of year to visit between April to June when it's hot and dry. Diving enthusiasts will be in their element between May to August with clear diving conditions.