Just over a hundred years ago, a tiny island was formed by a volcanic eruption off of the coast of Borneo. Pulau Tiga is 10km offshore on the west coast of Sabah, to get there, you can either take a 2 hours journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Penyu by car, followed by a picturesque 20 minutes boat cruise to the island.
The Mud Volcanoes - The volcanoes are now largely dormant, every few hours, gloop spatter cold mud over the surrounding vegetation. Many visitors are fascinated by this and some even spread the cold mud over their face and body.
Snake Island - Experience a trip to Kalampunian Damit - also known as the Snake Island to catch a glimpse of the Sea Kraits in its natural habitat (accompanied by a Park Ranger).
Upon arrival at the jetty, just 30 minutes relaxing boat ride from the mainland of Kuala Penyu, one is greeted by clear turquoise waters and an endless stretch of white sandy beach. Pulau Tiga Resort offers a wide range of facilities suitable for a family holiday and group outings. Nested amongst the giant banyan trees is the Pulau Tiga Restaurant. From here the choice is yours : swimming, snorkelling, fishing, diving, trail-exploring, the list is endless. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at the restaurant deck or a refreshing drink from the Survivor Bar. Of course you don't have to do anything except laze under a casuarinas tree…
Survivor Island of Borneo
The Pulau Tiga Marine National Park has soared to world fame as 'Survivor Island' because of the popular Million Dollar Prize Money TV series 'Survivor' by the CBS TV network, USA. This is the exact island that the entire first series was filmed! The fact that this island was chosen was due to its untouched natural landscape and marine life.
The Park Headquarters is situated in an open grassy clearing just behind the beach on the southern side of Pulau Tiga and consists of office, staff quarters and a resthouse for visiting scientists. A network of trails, marked at 50 meter intervals, leads to various points of interest. The island was initially developed jointly by the Sabah Parks Trustees and the Sabah branch of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) as a marine research centre, but now there is also a new resort called "Pulau Tiga Resort," run by a private enterprise with chalets, diving and watersports facilities. For day trips, Pulau Tiga has excellent facilities for BBQ and sun bathing with complete shelter and toilet facilities. You will need to pre-arrange your food and beverages with Pulau Tiga Resort as they only service in-house guest.
There are two more islands in the Pulau Tiga Park, approximately 20 minutes by boat to the north of the main island, Pulau Tiga. They are very different. Kalmpunian Besar is a small sand cay built up from unconsolidated coral fragments, and the shape of the island shifts and changes with the prevailing monsoon winds and currents. Kalampunian Damit (also known as "Snake Island") is celebrated as a breeding ground for the amphibious sea snake Laticauda colubrina, which comes to the shores to lay eggs. The snakes can usually be seen coiled in a tangled mass under boulders or among tree roots.
Pulau Tiga Resort
The resort is an ideal retreat that offers opportunities to experience nature, become immersed in the beauty and serenity of the island. You may also experience the various water sport activities provided by the resort which includes snorkeling, scuba diving, jet-skiing, kayaking, banana boat ride, fishing and many more. The ample grounds surrounding the resort are suitable for group outings to carry out their activities.
Pulau Tiga Park
Pulau Tiga's three low, forest covered hills barely up to 100 m in height, are largely the result of the mud flows from the mud volcanoes that have built up the island. Mud volcanoes from where natural gas builds up enough pressure to escape along cracks in the earth's surface, carrying with it mud, water and rocks. Normally the volcanoes bubble fairly quietly, but occasionally more violent eruptions do occur, as happened on Pulau Tiga in 1941 when an eruption of the eastern volcano was heard as much as 160 km away! The outburst smothered almost 30 ha of forest with boiling hot, liquid mud. These mud volcanoes are interesting and must be visited when you are on the island. Directions of trails are available from the Park or Pulau Tiga Resort, and the paths are well maintained and indicated.
Because of its history as a Forest Reserve, Pulau Tiga is one of the very few undisturbed offshore islands left in Sabah, and this is reflected in the luxuriant plant life. The shore is lined by trees with wide crowns and branches spreading low over the sand. Behind the shelter of the coastal fringe lies a fairly open forest of pole-like trees with the two giant 'ranggu,' easily recognized by their grayish-yellow trunks.
A mangrove lagoon with crystal clear waters lies near the Park Headquarters. Animal life on this islands is abundant with multiple species of birds such as the magnificent black-and-white Pied Hornbills, Nightjars, Magpie-Robins, and of course the curious megapodes. Flying foxes roost behind the mangrove inlet. These large, orange-brown bats are a magnificent sight at dusk when they flap slowly towards the mainland in search of fruits for their evening meal.
A troop of long tailed macques frequent the trees and Monitor Lizards are abundant. The Golden Skink is often encountered along the trails. Coral reefs fringing parts of the islands are easily accessible, with some species of corals not found elsewhere on the west coast!
How to Get There
Located 48 km south of Kota Kinabalu and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga Park is reached by driving the 140 km to Kuala Penyu, a small settlement on the tip of the Klias Peninsula. From here it is another 18 km, or about 30 minutes, by boat. Another way of getting there is by chartering a speed boat from Kota Kinabalu and cruise to Pulau Tiga, or fly to Labuan Island and charter a speed boat from Labuan.