Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia · 2 hotels available
In the South China Sea, 12 km north of Kuala Penyu, Pulau Tiga National Park once consisted of three islands, but wave erosion has reduced one to a mere sand bar. Of the remaining two, Tiga and Kalampunian Damit, only the former holds any accommodation. It acquired a degree of fame in 2001 as the location of the first series of the American reality-TV show Survivor. Most visitors today content themselves with relaxing on the sandy beaches and snorkeling or diving in the azure sea, but it’s possible to hike right around the island in six hours. An easy twenty-minute walk to the centre of Pulau Tiga leads to a couple of (lukewarm) mud volcanoes. Slip and slide around there, then walk 1.2km further to clean up at lovely Pagong-Pagong beach. Be warned, though, that walking can be hard going if your feet and flip-flops are muddy.
Just 1 km northeast of Pulau Tiga, Kalampunian Damit is also known locally as Pulau Ular (Snake Island), because it attracts a species of venomous sea snake called the yellow-lipped sea krait. The island is normally visited as part of a morning trip from Pulau Tiga Resort, combined with some snorkeling. It used to be possible to see dozens of snakes on a good day, but now they seem to be much more scarce and some visitors come away disappointed. Pulau Tiga now offers a rather more comfortable and relaxing experience. Individual chalets provide comfortable bedrooms with private bathrooms. An adjacent restaurant supplies 3 generous meals a day, plus a limitless supply of tea, coffee and cordial drinks. After arrival on the island, it is time to check in and perhaps have a quick swim. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure or you can take the jungle trail on your own that crosses the centre of the island to the mud “volcanoes”. At this site mud is seen to bubble up from the earth, and provides a popular spot for a full mud bath! A short run to a nearby beach provides a well needed wash.
If you are traveling by air, nearest airport is the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (IATA: BKI, ICAO: WBKK), an international airport located in the city of Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, the land below the wind.
Overland journey from Kota Kinabalu will take about 2 hour to the fishing village of Kuala Penyu. The road heads South West, following the Sabah coastline, with good views of mangrove forests and sandy beaches. The sight of the old car ferry on the Penyu River signifies the arrival to Kuala Penyu Village, and from here it is a 40 minutes boat ride to the tropical island of Pulau Tiga.
The trip to Snake Island is optional. You can pay around RM40 to visit two islands (Snake Island and Sands Spit Island) of Pulau Tiga Park. The tour normally includes a snorkeling trip off the island. Snake Island is located about 15 minutes boat ride from Pulau Tiga jetty. You can only go to Snake Island during good weather. According to a legend, Snake Island is the resting place of a heart-broken princess, whose lover is turned into rock by black magic of her sisters. The angry king penalized the evil sisters by turning their islands into mud volcanoes, which is Pulau Tiga. You only need approximately 15 minutes to walk around the small, Snake Island. When visiting this island, for your safety, you must be accompanied by a guide or known as snake catcher from Pulau Tiga Resort.