Turtle Islands National Park

Travel Guide Asia Malaysia Malaysian Borneo Sabah Turtle Islands National Park



The Turtle Islands lie in the Sulu Sea some 40 kilometres north of Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia. It consists of 3 islands - Selingaan, Bakkungan Kechil and Gulisaan, including the surrounding coral reefs and ocean. The park is noted for its green turtles and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands. The park covers an area of 17.4 km². The name Turtle Islands, however, refers to 10 islands, 3 of which are part of Turtle Islands Park of Malaysia, and 7 which belongs to the Municipality of Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines.



Sights and Activities

Overnight visitors to Pulau Selingan are given the opportunity to view a mother turtle laying her eggs; see the rangers burying the eggs in the hatchery; hold a hatchling and witness the hatchlings being released into the sea. Visitors are not allowed to roam the island during the hours of darkness, so meet in the cafeteria or stay in your lodge room, to await being called by a ranger when a turtle has landed. It may be called Turtle Island but you may stay then see no turtles. There is only one beach to safely swim from and it is made up of small pieces of sharp coral so footwear is a good idea, swimming at night is a bad idea as there is no light.

There is a small drinks shop inside the main lodge upstairs is a information and history room about Pulau Selengin/Sandakan and the turtle rescue project.

During the day, visitors can enjoy the beaches and snorkel in the sea. Snorkels and fins are available for hire on the island.

There is only one beach/swim area as the rest of the edges of the island have very strong undertows.

There is a police presence on the island (as part of ESSCOM, East Sabah Security Command) to protect the turtles, smuggling, immigration. They have separate accommodation from the overnight tourists.

The island has a superb star scape due to the lack of light pollution, so do not forget to look up and enjoy it.




Video cameras and flash photography are banned, but this is not strictly enforced although prolonged bright light at night is. Photography while walking around the island is allowed as is underwater filming, there is not a camera fee, unlike some other parks in Sabah. All tourists are escorted to start with a Sabah Parks/Sabah Tourism approved guide.

There are no extra fees on Pulau Selengin. You have to book a visit overnight stay via a tour operator. They are online, and using other internet sites you can see costs and travel timings, etc. These are reasonably fixed, but prices vary, so best to check before buying your visit. The security situation (Jan 2018) may place some restrictions in the future, (there is a night time curfew for all boats), so this must be checked before booking.



Getting There

Visits to Pulau Selingan are only available as part of a organised tour with an approved guide authorised by Sabah Tourism. Travel out to the island takes about an hour by boat from Sandakan jetty 1 km north of the main town, it is within walking distance from the centre of Sandakan. Just beyond the fish market as the road dips the jetty is on the right, easily seen as from 09:00 there are 6 tourist mini-vans in the small car park entrance. Arriving by car/mini van is a 2-km trip as the vehicles pass the jetty then travel further on to a turning point in the road and travel back to the jetty.

The boat leaves at 09:30 once all the guides have checked who is present and the park authorities have the information they need. There may be a delay if the weather is inclement.

Depending on the season the weather out on the sea beyond Sandakan can be very rough 2-3 metre waves, also it can be extremely smooth in the early morning.

The boat transfers have hard plastic moulded seating and impacting with waves can be painful. Rain storms blowing through are common so expect to get wet.




Buffet meals are provided in the cafeteria as part of the visit to the Island. The food is pleasant and just enough for the 12 people and guides, boat drivers, and staff. A small shop for beer and cold drinks is open for the evening meal and closes at 21:00 so take some cash, no cards.

Upstairs is a history room and your guide will walk you through the room, picture cards and photos are available to buy.




Accommodation is in a lodge providing basic but clean and comfortable air-conditioned individual rooms the beds and foam pillows are excellent. There is nowhere to hang your dry/wet clothes so bring a cord and create your own. Lock your door and window as the monitor lizards if they smell food will trash your room to find it. There are no snakes or crabs, just the odd lizard and turtle.



Keep Connected


Internet cafés are available in cities and major towns. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in shopping malls, restaurants, food courts and cafés. Many of these hotspots are provided free-of-charge. Internet cafés can also be found in cities and towns.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Malaysia is on the GSM 900/1800 and UMTS (3G) mobile network. If you have an "unlocked" GSM band mobile phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card and use it with your phone here for cheaper rates instead of roaming here. Prepaid mobile SIM cards are available cheaply at mobile phone shops and 24-hour convenience stores.

Below are the area codes in Malaysia:

01Mobile Phones (nationwide)
02Singapore (special access code to call Singapore)
03Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor
04Penang, Perlis, Kedah
06Negeri Sembilan, Malacca
080Brunei (special access code for use in Sabah and Sarawak only)
08xSabah, Sarawak (x determines the region)
09Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan
1-300Non-geographical numbers (local call rate)
1-800Non-geographical numbers (free call from landline, local call rate from mobile phone)

Area code is not required when calling a number of the same area code. However, it is mandatory when calling from a mobile phone.

There is no charge for receiving calls on any Malaysian phones. Only the caller is charged for the call made. However, if you're on mobile phone roaming service, you will also be charged for any calls received, by your operator.

To dial out of Malaysia, use the international access code 00 (zero zero), followed by the country code, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0, if any), and finally the telephone number.
e.g. To call London, United Kingdom, dial 00-44-20-xxxx xxxx; or to call Dallas, Texas, United States, dial 00-1-214-xxx xxxx.
For mobile phones, the plus sign "+" can be used as the international access code.
e.g. Using the previous scenario, type +44-20-xxxx xxxx or +1-214-xxx xxxx and press the call button.

The country code for Malaysia is 60. To receive calls from overseas, that person will have to dial the country's international access code, followed by 60 for Malaysia, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0), followed by the phone number.
e.g. If your prepaid mobile number is 012-1234567, and someone in the United Kingdom were to call you, the number to dial is 00-60-12-1234567. Those calling you from the United States and Canada will have to dial 011-60-12-1234567.

The emergency number is 999 and can be dialled from any phone, free of charge. The worldwide standard emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used on a mobile phone, even without a SIM card. Calls to 112 will be routed to 999 centres.


Pos Malaysia is the national postal service of Malaysia. Rates for sending a standard letter locally is 30 sen (20 gram) to 40 sen (up to 50 gram). International airmail has minimum rates ranging from RM1.00 to RM2.00, depending on destination. It costs 20 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme locally, or 50 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme to anywhere in the world.

Expedited Mail Service (EMS), branded locally as Poslaju, is available for both domestic and international destinations. Domestic EMS has a next day delivery guarantee. International EMS guarantees mails and parcels to be delivered out of the country by the following day. The time required to arrive at its destination will depend on clearance by authorities and the postal service of the destination country. For most countries, delivery of documents can be done in 3 to 5 days.

If you need to receive mails or packages from home, there is Poste Restante service available at all General Post Offices (GPO) in the country. There is one GPO in almost every capital city of every state, and in all federal territories. Mails sent from Singapore and Brunei will be retained for one month while mails from all other places will be kept for two months, after which if unclaimed, will be sent to the Dead Letter Office.

Generally, post offices are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.


Electricity voltage in Malaysia is 240V AC 50Hz. The UK 3-pin plug is the standard used in Malaysia. European 2-pin plug can also be used on the 3-pin socket by inserting a screwdriver (or any hard object that fits) into the earth pin hole to open the live and neutral shutters. However, this practice can be hazardous.


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This is version 4. Last edited at 15:41 on Nov 4, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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