Gaya Island Resort – one of the best places in Sabah for a vacation

Rebecca Saw - enjoying the bathtub soak @ Gaya Island Resort - Sabah

Come to Gaya Island Resort if you are in the need for total relaxation and time away from the urban life.
A 3 days 2 nights getaway is possible to restore some zen, but 5 days 4 nights would sooth frayed nerves while 6 days 5 nights might just renew one from within.

Why do I say that?
Well, take a tour of the resort with me, see what you can do (or NOT do) here and decide if Gaya Island Resort is your pot of gold.

Rebecca Saw - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

Gaya Island Resort’s beauty is unsurpassed. A short stretch of beach (the stretch that is accessible by guests of the resort) on the resort itself is clean with fine sand and gentle waters.

gaya island resort - beach

I have shared the first part of my stay here (LINK) which chronicled a bit about my villa and its surroundings.
Gaya Island Resort offers 120 villas and two-bedroom suite, all build from the use of local materials which allowed the lodgings to blend harmoniously with its natural environment.
The villa interiors are designed with a contemporary elegance, exuding both luxury and comfort.

In this post, I will talk more about the activities in Gaya Island Resort.
My favourite part of the resort includes the yoga studio (have you ever seen one like this??), the pool area with its perfect all-day lounging beds, nicely shaded from the direct sun by the pool bar and the short stretch of beach where I ran every morning.

gaya island resort sabah malaysia - review - YOGA

gaya island resort sabah malaysia - review - yoga

Reception area: The gracious welcome after you’ve alighted from the transfer speedboat lifted any travel weariness off.
You are welcome to linger, but should you want to retire to your villa immediately, a kind escort will lead the way and provide a quick run-through to get you acquainted with the workings of your accommodation.

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Lodgings are in individual villas perched on a hill with a respectable distance from each other.
The standard is 2 villas on a particular spot upon the hill, but the clever angling of the built of each ensures sufficient privacy (both sounds and view) for its occupants.

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

The resort is a walking resort and the use of motorised vehicles are strictly for necessary operational purposes.
With this ecologically-sustainable practice in place, guests are encouraged to walk as they make their way around the island, mostly from the villas to the resort centre where the pools, library , restaurants (Feast Village/Fisherman Cove/Pool Bar & a new Japanese restaurant which I didn’t try), Spa Village and beach are located.

Although the distance isn’t far, it can get strenuous for the less than fit individuals or anyone with reduced mobility.

It is better to select the lower villas (Bayu) which still offers glorious views over the higher villas (Kinabalu/Canopy).
The views are frankly, such as gorgeous and there are no difference in the styling or space of the rooms, save for the 2 Suria Suites.

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah-003

At the heart of the resort guests linger, relax, dine and wine.

I love the open library where generous stock of volume could potentially keep avid readers occupied for hours, even throughout their whole stay.
2-3 desktops stood idle, reserved for guests’ use.

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Near the pool, private enclosed relaxation chambers are ideal for relaxing, a nap or just for …well.. photography. 🙂

rest rooms

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To use Gaya ISland 3

It would be a shame if the beauty of the resort is not captured. Hence I voluntarily became the model. 😀

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Concrete walls, gardens, archways, the sea, the beach, the pool…all of these are just beautiful and make fantastic backdrops for photos.

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah-004

gaya island resort sabah malaysia - review - Rebecca Saw

The Pool:

There is a rectangular pool with floating cabanas right in front of the pool bar and a separate wading pool for the kids. Towels and deck chairs are offered and at times guests get complimentary drinks and iced lollies too!

Otherwise refreshments can be ordered from the pool bar.

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And yes, other than posing, I did swim! 🙂

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The Pool Bar:
In the evenings live singing entertains the guests.

the bar - gaya island resort

the bar - gaya island resort -001

Activities at the beach:

Other than Tavajun Bay (which is a 10 min speedboat ride) the accessible beach right at the resort has soft, fine sand and clear waters for swimming and other beachside activities.
A BBQ dinner can be arranged as well.

During my stay there was an evening where the men played speak takraw, the ladies learnt some crafts and the staff of the resort handed out local snacks and drinks.

Gaya Island 31



Dining: Feast Village and Fisherman Cove

Feast Village is the main dining area for it hosts the daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. An ala-carte menu is offered as well.
You can choose to dine with air-conditioned comfort, or on the promenade by the beach or just outside the restaurant.

Gaya island resort - breakfast

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On one of the nights during our holiday we had a BBQ theme dinner planned but the rain moved the dinner inside the restaurant. Food (especially the seafood) was great and we had a performance to entertain us!

Gaya Island 32

The Fisherman Cove serves dinner.
As its name suggest, its main allure is fresh seafood; some prepared in imaginative ways and some kept simple but always letting the natural flavours shine.


fisherman cove - food review - gaya island resort -004

The Tavajun Bay.

The 5 minute speedboat transfer to the private beach, Tavajun Bay, is complimentary
There is a Thai restaurant on the Tavajun Bay which offers a Thai set menu, or you can order a picnic lunch. We found the balance of activities and relaxation on Gaya Island to be ideal.
Doing nothing is possible, doing many things is possible and having a balance of doing something or nothing is best. 🙂

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Gaya Island 3

The waters are amazingly pristine and clean.

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No cares in the world! 🙂

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Just be happy.

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Cheers to such a gorgeous resort.

rebecca saw - gaya island resort

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The Spa Village:

The Spa Village massage and other treatments are NOT to be missed for sheer luxury and relaxation.
The therapists were of course, professionally trained.

What held my attention was the gorgeously designed interiors of the Spa Village.
Tall glass panels that opens out; taking full advantage of the natural breeze, sunlight and tranquil surroundings plus a zen pool in the middle with carefree fishes swimming about, it doesn’t get any soothing than this.

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I relaxed with a drink, breathing in deeply with pleasure with the view while I waited to be escorted by my therapist to the spa rooms.

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Below: Individual spa rooms amidst the virgin jungle.
The spa “room” can be indoors or outdoors depending on your preference. All of them are designed to overlook the serene view of nature.

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My package is Renewal 360 Borneo Vanilla Orchid and Honey Cocoon which took 2.5 hours.

We begin with a foot scrub, then body buffing (concoction of honey, yogurt & coco -vanilla) followed by full body vanilla infused honey cacao fruit massage.
Cocooned in warm blankets, a yogurt hair mask is applied.
Lastly is the massage, from top to toe.

gaya island resort - spa village - massage

The packages can be costly; mine was about RM800 or so. The merit of such a service is really dependent on individual.

Anyhow there are plenty of complimentary activities such as the ones I’ve listed above.
I’ll like to add another to the list which is the Movie Under The Stars @ Gaya Island Resort.

Every evening comfy bean bags are laid out under the starlight and guests enjoy the gentle sea breeze with a drink and snacks in hand (if you wish) while watching a movie.
Mosquitoes are a threat but well under control with the diligence of the staff who activates the necessary repellents ensuring guests’ comfort.

movies under the stars - gaya island resort

If chasing sunsets are your thing then the Lumba-Lumba cruise would be perfect.
You will need to pre-book your space and it leaves from the arrival jetty each evening for an hour out on Sabah waters.

Lumba Lumba cruise - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

Light refreshments are served on board.
The boat is beautiful and decked out the LV furnishing which was reportedly costing somewhere near a million.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the interior, but I got seasick and spent a better part of the cruise with my face hovering over the expensive LV toilet bowl.
No, I’m kidding. It was bad for me.
No fault of the boat of course.

Lumba Lumba cruise - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah-001

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Anyhow I survived the cruise and retired early that evening.
And went on to enjoy the rest of my sunny days here. 🙂

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How to get to Gaya Island Resort:

I took a flight via Air Asia & arrived at Kota Kinabalu airport.
The Gaya Island Resort reception lounge is situated at Sutera Harbor Marina, about a 10 minute drive from the airport and we continued our journey in a speedboat (15 mins) to the island.

gaya island resort sabah malaysia - review

Sutera Harbour Marina:

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Speedboat Transfers Schedule: It is required for all passengers to arrive at the Sutera Harbour Marina 15 minutes before departure time.

Route: Sutera Harbour Marina – Gaya Island Resort Gaya Island Resort – Sutera Harbour Marina
0800 hrs 0900 hrs
1000 hrs 1100 hrs
1200 hrs 1300 hrs
1400 hrs 1500 hrs
1600 hrs 1700 hrs
1800 hrs 1830 hrs

**If the guest is unable to make the scheduled times, a chartered boat can be pre-arranged @MYR500.00 per way between 7.00am and 9.00pm. Private charter boat @MYR700.00 per way between 9pm and 7am.

You can expect a warm reception upon arrival and a refreshing calamansi sorbet plus drinks. The staff will then proceed with the check-in and escort you to your booked suite.

The jetty of arrival:

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

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More of my stay at YTL resorts:
Tanjong Jara
Pangkor Laut Resort
Majestic Melaka
Majestic KL

Gaya Island Resort
Malohom Bay, Pulau Gaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park,
88000 Gaya Island, Malaysia.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Alan

    This place looks absolutely idyllic as indeed do you Becks. Is this resort likely to or does it now attract Western tourists? I am hopelessly selfish, want it all to myself!!!

    1. Rebecca Saw

      Hi Alan! Choose low season! HAHAHAAH!
      Well depends on where you’re at. usually the pool area is more crowded but it was never noisy nor overly swarmed by people 🙂
      There are many secluded areas for rest so you can definitely avoid the crowd.

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