Lahad Datu is located in the Tawau division, occupying the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay. Lahad Datu is surrounded by stretches of cocoa and oil palm plantations. Apart from that, it is also an important timber exporting port.
A haven for naturalists, Lahad Datu is the gateway to Danum Valley Conservation Area, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and Madai Caves. Lahad Datu is also the base for the Borneo Child Aid Society (locally Humana Child Aid Society Sabah) which provides education for more than 5, 000 children of plantation workers as well as others who are without access to basic education.