A diver's paradise, Sabah's Layang-Layang is actually a new name for an oceanic atoll once called "Swallow Reefs". Situated approximately 300km northwest of KK, Layang-Layang is a tiny oceanic island surrounded by a coral atoll. It is among the famous Spratlys, which is a collection of about 600 islands, reefs, and atolls strategically located in the South China Sea. There are some who rate Layang-Layang as an exclusive dive location. The island has even been nicknamed "Big Fish" or the "Wall Diving Mecca of Southeast Asia".
Layang-Layang covers only six hectares but an atoll over 7km long and 2km wide surrounds it. The atoll features a 2000m sheer drop around its rim, thus making it an excellent dive site. Located far from land and human encroachment, its waters are crystal clear with visibility averaging 50-60m. Divers will therefore get a clear view of the amazing underwater habitats. As it is bathed in tropical conditions of 7.5 degrees north to the equator and 114 degrees east of the meridian, its waters are warm with surface temperatures ranging between 21-32 degrees Celsius.
One of Layang-Layang's biggest attractions is the Hammerhead Shark. Manta rays with fin spans of over 10ft are also found here. Other pelagic species that are found regularly include tuna, barracuda, and reef sharks.
The eastern end of the atoll is home to thousands of migratory birds. Hence Layang-Layang is not only a diver's paradise but also a bird watchers' haven.
The island can be
reached by plane or cruise boats. The flight takes about 2 hours while
the cruise takes 16 hours from KK.
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