Turtle Islands (Selingan/Libaran) Sabah

Turtle Islands (Selingan/Libaran)

About Selingan Turtle Island

Lying 40 km off the coast of Sandakan, the Turtle Islands Marine Park is a designated conservation centre by the Sabah state government to protect the endangered green and hawksbill turtle species from harm. This 1,740-hectare marine park acts as a breeding ground for the turtles and a haven for laying their eggs and attracts travellers far and wide. Steering more towards conservation activities, a limited number of visitors are allowed at any one time for a controlled environment as to not disturb the natural going-ons of nature’s routine.

Among the three islands (Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakungan Kecil & Pulau Gulisan) in the Marine Park, Pulau Selingan Island is the only island open to the public for a chance to be a part of the magical nesting experience. Park rangers will guide visitors to the nesting sites in the dark to ensure that they do not disturb the turtles. It is a slow sand digging process and burying ritual for the mother turtles. Visitors will be able to see how eggs are collected, mother turtles tagged and little hatchlings making a grand dash into the warm embrace of the Sulu Sea. During the day, you may choose to snorkel or swim in the crystal blue waters of the island or simply relax by the sandy beaches. An overnight stay is recommended for a rare glimpse of these turtles laying eggs. The Park offers basic accommodation in chalet style (25 rooms) for a small number of lucky visitors (about 50 visitors/day) staying overnight for a chance to witness turtles laying eggs.

Accommodation in Selingan Island

Selingan Turtle Island Chalet accommodation is basic but comfortable. There are a total of 25 twin-sharing guest rooms, built-in with air-conditioning, ceiling fans and ensuite bathrooms. The toilets are clean and well-kept. Facilities in Selingan Turtle Island Resort include a restaurant for your daily meals, a exhibition hall which showcases the information of the turtle hatching process, and a small shop selling drinks and other simple commodities. Due to the limited number of permit given per day, it is advisable to book in advance.

How to get to Selingan Turtle Island

Take a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. From the airport to the Sabah Parks Jetty is about 9 km away. It would take approximately an hour’s boat ride from the jetty along Jalan Buli Buli Sim to reach Selingan Island.

When is the best time to visit?

Green turtles and hawsbill turtles lay their eggs all year round, consistent with sightings reported by park rangers who have witnessed nesting and hatchlings everyday. The best time to visit the Turtle Island would typically be from July to October, when the weather and sea condition is more favourable.

About Libaran Turtle Island

Libaran Island, located on the northeast coast of Sandakan, a little unknown to the public but is gaining attention recently, is another turtle hatchery, where visitors can catch a turtle nesting or hatchlings in action! Taman Hadiah Turtle Hatchery was set up on Pulau Libaran in 2013 and tagging of mother turtles was only started in 2016, but it has since recorded marked increased of Hawsbill and Pacific Green turtle landings on Libaran. Libaran Island not only offers travellers the opportunity for turtle watching, but after the hype of the moment has died down, one can star gaze into a peaceful slumber with a glamping experience!

Accommodation in Libaran Island

Walai Penyu Resort Libaran offers comfortable tents accommodation on a raised deck on the beach. Tents are simply furnished and clean. Each is fitted with a small desk, clean linen sheets and complimentary bottled water. Guests have access to the shared bathroom facilities which includes hot-water showers.

Walai Penyu Resort Libaran Island houses a charming garden, an outdoor terrace and a plastic house made up of 3000 recycled P.E.T plastic bottles collected from the beach during clean-ups.

With the main turtle-related activities only happening once the sun has set and darkness encloses the islands, visitors are also given the chance to participate in conservation activities to soak in some knowledge. Water-sport activities including snorkeling and canoeing can be arranged upon request. The on-site buffet restaurant will serve authentic Malaysian-style meals.

How to get to Libaran Turtle Island

45min flight from KK to Sandakan & a breezy 45 min boat ride from the Sandakan Yacht Club will take you to Libaran Island Walai Penyu Conservation Park.

Book the Libaran Island glamping package now as who knows, your night might turn magical when the turtle comes right to the 'door step' of the tent you are sleeping in and start to nest their eggs!

Who is it for?

The Turtle Islands are perfect for island-seekers and wildlife enthusiasts who have always dreamt of witnessing the precious life cycle of a sea turtle! As these islands are meant for conservation of the sea turtles, the accommodation and necessities are at its bare minimum and if you seek comfort in that, the turtle islands are definitely going to be right up your alley!”

Did you know?

Interesting Turtles Facts!

There are 2 species of turtles that frequent the shores of Selingan & Libaran; Hawksbill Turtles and Green Turtles.

Sea turtles are typically not the most social of marine creatures, however, they do enjoy a good tango every once in a while and will set off in search of a mate. Once they have successfully done the deed, nature will take its course and the female turtles will make their way to shore to nest. These turtles can take around 1 to 3 hours to complete their nesting as they plod to shore, hollow out a nest with their flippers, lay, and bury their eggs before returning to sea.

Hawksbill Turtles nest on average around 4 times each season at a 2 weeks interval, laying around 140 to 200 eggs per nest. Green Turtles nest around 3 to 5 times each season, laying an average of 115 eggs in each nest.

Once the eggs are tucked nicely in their temporary abodes, the incubation process can typically take up to 60 days or more depending on the temperature of the sand. The sex of the turtles is very much determined by the temperature of its nesting environment; eggs from cooler nests (under the shade) hatch as all males, and eggs from warmer nests (under the sun) hatch as all females, and this process is irreversible. Once they've fully developed, the little hatchlings will get their first breath of fresh tropical air after dusk and make their grand dash to sea as a pact.

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