Tag Archives: giant clam

Gayana Eco Resort, the crib of the giant clams

Gayana Eco Resort

Based on the following clues, do you know where is the place? 🙂
1) Only 20 minutes away from the bustling Kota Kinabalu city;
2) Meeting point of coral reefs, lush rainforest & mangrove;
3) The only place where you can see all 7 Giant Clams species of Malaysia;
4) 5-star island resort.

Well, the title has given out the answer. Yes, it’s Gayana Eco Resort on Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya), we have island resort so near to Kota Kinabalu (KK). That’s why KK earns the fame as Nature Resort City of Malaysia.

Gayana Eco Resort

Below is the location of Gayana Eco Resort on Google map:

View My Sabah Map in a larger map

Over the years, Gayana Eco Resort has been improving on infrastructure and amenities. To me, their biggest achievement of all is not better accommodation, but their commitment on marine conservation. In my recent visit to Gayana, I’m happy to see their efforts bear fruit.

office of Gayana Eco Resort
To go to Gayana Eco Resort is fast and easy, just drop by their office at Jesselton Point to register.

Jesselton Point terminal
Above: Jesselton Point terminal

Gayana Eco Resort

jetty of Gayana Eco Resort
Then take a boat to the island and you will be on Gaya Island in 20 minutes.

sea at Gayana Eco Resort
There is no tourist who is not crazy about our turquoise sea. What’s more important are the “dark spots” under the water, which are easily mistaken by tourists as “rubbish”. These are corals, the nursery of marine life.

Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC)

Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC) is managed by Gayana Eco Resort. Their Giant Clam Propagation Programme won them the Most Innovative Tourist Attraction Eco-Tourism Conservation Award 2008-2009 awarded by Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC)
Above: the building of Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC). The old MERC was used to be a small and poorly-maintained exhibition hall at other side. After the new management took over a few years ago, they build a bigger and well-equipped marine building, which consists of high standard auditorium, display room, lab, etc.

Auditorium of Marine Ecology Research Center
One of their staffs, Melissa, was giving us a short presentation of MERC conservation projects and environmental education in 30-seat auditorium. The most interesting information is the giant clam can grow more than 1-Meter wide, weight 200 Kg and live more than 100 years!

Marine Sanctuary
After the presentation, the staffs showed us the marine sanctuary outside the room. It’s an enclosed sea area with endangered game fishes in it.

green sea turtle
There is a sea turtle too. Sometimes the villagers sent the sick sea turtles here and MERC will treat them. The turtles will be released back to the ocean once they are fully recovered.

Display Room of Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC)
Next we visited their Display Room. No camera flash is allowed inside, so please pardon my dark & blur photos blow.

Aquarium in MERC display room
The Display Room houses some large and well-lit aquarium tanks that show different ecology (e.g. sea grass) and interesting marine life such as “nemo”, seahorses and puffer fishes.

stone fish
Above: can you spot the stone fish? Step on it and you will experience agonizing pain for a few days.

Aquarium tanks
The aquarium allows you to look at the marine creatures up-close. Both kid and adult will love it.

giant clams
In Gayana, you can see all 7 giant clam species of Malaysia. Currently they have 2,000 giant clams in their nursery. Their Giant Clam Propagation Programme was started in year 2007. After 3 years of breeding and nurturing of giant clams in the protected nursery, MERC will release 500 baby giant clams into the ocean, that includes two locally extinct species, Tridacna gigas and Tridacna derasa!

giant clams in fish tank
Under this Giant Clam programme, more than 10,000 giant clams larger than 1 CM have been transferred from the hatchery to the nursery area. Giant clam is important to marine ecology b’coz it filters harmful waste nutrients from the sea water, release clean water and produce oxygen for the environment. However, giant clams are highly-endangered due to overfishing.

huge giant clam shell
Above: the shell of the largest giant clam species, Tridacna gigas. In fact, it can grow larger than this (up to 4.6 feet).

juvenile giant clams
Above: the juvenile giant clams that are ready to be released into the sea.

touch tank of Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC)
Above: the Touch Tank of MERC. You can touch anything in the tank.

touch tank

touch tanks
There are sea cucumbers, starfishes, etc. in the Touch Tank. A great way to learn sea creatures by touching.

hermit crab
Above: a beautiful hermit crab in touch tank.

planting coral fragment

planting coral fragment
You also can participate in their Coral Reef Restoration Programme. If you “adopt” a coral, you will be given a broken coral fragment to plant it in cement-base plate. The fragments are from corals damaged by strong wave and human activities, and they can’t survive on their own.

coral stabilization tank

coral stabilization tank
Then your coral will be labelled and placed into the Coral Stabilization Tank for at least 2 weeks. It’ll be transferred to the reef nearby if it’s healthy. The sponsors will also receive periodic update and photos of their “babies” corals. As of now, Gayana has planted over 2,500 corals with a survival rate of nearly 90%.

You can Click Here to learn more about the conservation projects of MERC.

Gayana Eco Resort

After the conservation activities, we took a tour around the island resort.

water bungalow of Gayana Eco Resort

Gayana Eco Resort

Gayana Eco Resort
Gayana Eco Resort has over 20 water bungalows with beautiful sea view, great for honey moon trip.

swimming pool of Gayana Eco Resort
Above: The “infinite” swimming pool of Gayana Eco Resort.

Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant of Gayana Eco Resort
Above: Having lunch at Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant of Gayana. It’s the first restaurant to remove shark fin from its menu.

Gayana Eco Resort
If you would like to visit Gayana Eco Resort, you may visit their web site at gayana-eco-resort.com for more info.

More Photos

You may check out my photo album if you want to see more nice pictures:
Photo gallery of Gayana Eco Resort

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

Related post
Bunga Raya Resort of Gaya Island
Giant Clams of Sabah

Pom-Pom Island – looking for bom-bom girls

Pom-Pom Island

Pom-Pom Island is a relatively new destination compared to other islands such as Sipadan and Mabul in Semporna, Sabah. Few people know that Tun Sakaran Marine Park (TSMP), also known as Semporna Islands Park, is the most reachable from Pom-Pom. In fact, TSMP is currently the biggest marine park of Malaysia and has richer marine ecology and biodiversity than Sipadan in terms of macro lives, many new species wait to be named and discovered.

location map of Pom-Pom Island
Pom-Pom Island is 45-minute by boat from jetty of Semporna town. There are two accommodations on Pom-Pom. I was going to Pom-Pom Island Resort, the one which operates in environment-friendly manner. Without any fishing village and island residents, tourists enjoy more privacy on Pom-Pom. Don’t confuse Pom-Pom with another island named Bum-Bum.

crystal clear sea of Pom-Pom Island
Beach side of Pom Pom Island
The white sandy beach and crystal clear sea are as spectacular as other islands in Celebes Sea. Under the hot tropical sun, everyone just can’t wait to jump into sea. We even saw lion fishes and many other fishes under the jetty. To say it in a tacky way, Pom-Pom looks like the picture in dream holiday ad. Visitors can swim, dive, snorkel and kayak around the island.

Pom-Pom girl dancers
In case you wonder if Pom-Pom Island has many hot pom-pom girls…

Pom-Pom tree
Actually Pom-Pom gets its name from the “Pom-Pom” tree (photo above), which is abundant on the island.

>> Click Here to see more photos of Pom-Pom Island

Restaurant of Pom-Pom Island Resort
We checked in at their activity hall and restaurant (photo above). Welcoming drink was served (but no dancing Pom-Pom girls). It’s very nice that they sent our heavy luggage to our chalet with mini-tractor. I’ve been hearing positive feedback about the excellent service of Pom-Pom. Basically they take care of everything, so you are worry-free. They can even pick you up at Tawau Airport.

Island Chalets

Water Villa of Pom-Pom Island
Water Villa of Pulau Pom-Pom

Room of Water Villa
Balcony of Water Villa
>> Click Here to see more photos of Pom-Pom Island

Of course the most luxurious chalet is the Water Villa built on the sea, and of course I can’t afford it. Anyway, I was busybody a bit and took a few photos of Water Villa (see 4 photos above).

I remember an incident that a hotel put me and my male colleague in a room with honeymoon setting. There is only a transparent glass between the room and bathroom, so I can see what my roommate doing in toilet. I am not that “open-minded”, so I requested the hotel to give us a “normal” room. Well, even if sharing room with wife, I don’t think it’s romantic to see her wiping her butt after doing number 1?

Beach Villa of Pom-Pom Island Resort
Though I stayed in Beach Villa (photo above), it’s already a 5-star lodging to me. Yes, the chalet has electricity, hot shower, light, fans and air-conditioning, and the room is spacious.

Fruit trees
Pom-Pom is a small island that needs only 40 minutes to walk one round, but it’s big enough to have the soil to plant fruits such as Papaya and Dragon Fruit. After sunset, a large number of fruit bats (flying fox) will fly to this island to enjoy the fruits. The big bats are just everywhere after dusk. By the way, they have jogging and cycling tracks on the island.

I went for a bird-watching hunt around the island. The sighting of Barred Rail is reported on this island. This bird species is common in Philippines but it is only recently spotted and added to the list of birds found in Sabah. I was told that it likes to wander in the grass near the fruit garden, but too bad I didn’t see it. I saw other birds such as sunbirds and kingfisher.

You can find a sense of humor in many little things on the island..

Funny dustbin
Mr. Bean dustbin?

Kampung House
Kampung House? (Village House)

>> Click Here to see more photos of Pom-Pom Island

Plate warmer
OMG, a Plate Warmer? This is the first plate warmer I see in Sabah. I love food to be served on warm plate. One thing that Sabah “kopitiam” (Malaysian coffee shop) always make me mildly pissed off is when they give me the plate and spoon that are still wet. I think it is kind of disgusting.

Water tanks for reverse osmosis
Pom-Pom Island Resort also invests on reverse osmosis (R.O.) plant to use rainwater. It is the only island in Sabah employs such green technology. They also plan to use wind energy in future.

Below is a 2.5-min video about Pom-Pom:

Click Here to watch bigger video.

Bohey Dulang
From Pom-Pom, you can clearly see Bohey Dulang, one of the islands of Semporna Islands Park.

sunset of Semporna Islands Park
According to the legend, a notorious Sultan of South Philippines eyed on Arung Salamiah, a beautiful princess lived on Bum-Bum Island, so her parents hid her on Bohey Dulang island. She vanished few days later and people believe that she was hidden by the spirits on the island and turned into fairy. Locals say they could hear her singing and her dog barking during full moon, and even occasionally see her walking on the island.

Arung Salamiah Princess
The romantic story of Arung Salamiah was even played in Sabah Fest 2010.

Giant clam nursery on Bohey Dulang
Giant clam shell exhibition

We dropped by Bohey Dulang island on the first day, not to visit Salamiah, but to look at the giant clam nursery. I blogged about this giant clam nursery before. FYI, you may snorkel here because they release many giant clams in front of the giant clam nursery.

We also checked out the cultivation of abalone on the island. The species of our abalone is relatively smaller.

Our initial itinerary included a 30 to 45 minutes trekking up to the high point of Bohey Dulang (probably Salamiah stood on this hill before?), to get a bird eye view of Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Due to time constraint, we had to cancel the plan, too bad, next time then.


Later Pom-Pom sent us to Mantabuan Island for snorkeling. Being one of the islands of bio-diversified Semporna Islands Park, we saw so much in only 8 Meters of depth! Luckily coral bleaching does not affect the cooler Celebes Sea of Semporna, so the corals are in great shape. In merely 1 hour of snorkeling, we saw stack horn, brain corals, blue corals, lettuce corals, thorns of stars, huge sea cucumbers, puffer fish, crocodile fishes and 3 Green and Hawsbill Turtles!!! I was told by my friends that they also spotted turtle when they snorkel near the jetty of Pom-Pom in next morning. A scuba diver also said that she found 13 turtles in the sea in front of the jetty.

Mantabuan Island
Above: Mantabuan Island

The sea current was not strong and the visibility was about 9 Meters. To see more, you can join scuba diving to see the precious black corals in deeper water. It’s about RM365 (USD$110) for 2 boat dives, permit fee and rental of dive equipments. Pom-Pom Island Resort has a dive center.

Night Patrol

Another feature of Pom-Pom is the night patrol for sighting of turtle laying eggs. The staffs of Pom-Pom were trained as the wildlife warden, so they know the right steps and measures on conservation of sea turtles. The nesting records will be submitted to WWF and Sabah Wildlife Department. The guests were offered a night walk with the guides around 8pm.

Ghost crab
No turtle nest found during my stay. I only saw a ghost crab on the beach. The luck was not with us that night.

Turtle hatchery
If any turtle nests on Pom-Pom, for better survival rate, the staffs will collect the eggs and move them to a protected turtle hatchery next to the dive center. The eggs will hatch after 2 months and the baby turtles will be released back to the sea. The staff (Sally) told us the number of eggs of Green Turtles and Hawsbill Turtles are nearly equal. FYI, you can sponsor the nest.

Turtles say goodbye
Before we departed on second day, two turtles showed up near the jetty, as if they were saying goodbye to us.

To know more about Pom-Pom Island, you may visit their website at:
They also have an interesting and updated blog.

>> Click Here to see more photos of Pom-Pom Island

Photos taken in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo