This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Responsible tourism: Luxury beach holiday in Borneo & Orangutans
Gaya Island is set within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a group of 5 islands located off Kota Kinabalu, each with fringing coral reefs. Nestled on Tavajun Bay, Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre is accessible either by a 5-minute boat ride from Gaya Island Resort’s jetty or through the 45-minute Tavajun Trek - a lower carbon option!
The resort is committed to ecologically-sustainable practices to minimise its carbon footprint within the environment. Therefore, it is a walking resort with minimal motorised vehicles used for operational purposes. Ancient rainforest and protected mangroves surround the hillside villas of this accommodation. Spacious, tactile and modern yet respectful of local Sabahan elements, each villa uses local materials that blend harmoniously with the natural environment. The villas are set amongst mangroves, canopy, tropical rainforest and the South China Sea, and we encourage guests to respect the environment whilst they are here.
Since its launch in October 2013, the marine centre has rescued, treated and cared for multiple endangered green sea turtles and one critically-endangered Hawksbill. To date, the centre has released four turtles - Bobby, Ninja, Carmen and Nick Jr. all of which have undergone rehabilitation and research. The marine centre is also home to four coral reef display tanks for educational purposes as well as producing coral fragments that will be returned to the sea. Outside the turtle rescue centre is a 14,000-litre recovery tank, which provides a safe and stable environment for sick or injured sea turtles to have the best chance for survival. This recovery tank also houses a coral nursery that establishes an artificial environment to aquaculture coral fragments that will be returned to the sea to help rejuvenate and enhance the natural reefs.
Committed to leading the community in marine conservation, the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre advocates three conservation pillars – Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation through Education, through which guests on this trip will also benefit. The marine centre's programmes were conceptualised and are being implemented by Scott Mayback, the resort's Resident Marine Biologist.
Turtle Rescue - This programme sees to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles that the resort receives from the Sabah Wildlife Department and other conservation agencies. Operating a Turtle Hotline, the marine centre is notified whenever there are injured or sick sea turtles in need and provide them with a safe environment in which to recover and be treated with the assistance of Dr. Nicholas Pilcher, Founder and Executive Director of the Marine Research Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Kota Kinabalu. Dr. Pilcher played an instrumental role in the creation of the marine centre and the recovery and release of Gaya Island Resort’s first rescued sea turtle, "Bobby".
Coral Reef Restoration - The marine centre’s coral nursery provides an on-land opportunity for guests to become engaged with coral reef conservation. It also provides a controlled environment for freshly planted corals to recover. This initiative is carried out in collaboration with Reef Check Malaysia, a non-profit organisation. Activities include the collection of broken or non-viable coral fragments, their attachment to coral blocks or artificial reef structures, placement in the nursery for observation and their return to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to rehabilitate damaged areas.
Conservation through Education - This programme aims to lead by example; by not selling endangered species like sharks and humphead wrasse, but by choosing products that have minimal impact on the environment, and by providing engaging education opportunities for guests and staff to further their appreciation of conservation. The resort has weekly conservation talks, a Marine Biologist for a Day Programme and it encourages guests to become involved in future external outreach programmes as volunteers or sponsors. The marine centre also provides outreach to the local fishing communities by training the fishermen in using less harmful fishing practices, educating on the benefits of conservation and implementing a recycling programme to reduce floating debris.
In a combined effort between Reef Check Malaysia and YTL Hotels, the resort also conducts a school outreach programme with the local primary school. Using a combination of audio-visual materials, creative activities and fresh pastries from the resort, this programme seeks to engage the children while at same time educating them on recycling and the need for conservation.