What to Expect in Selingan Turtle Island

About Selingan Turtle Island

Turtle Islands Marine Park is 40KM from Sandakan. It is a conservation center protected by the Sabah Government to protect hawksbill turtle and endangered green turtles species. The 1,740-hectare marine park is a breeding ground for turtles and a haven for their eggs, attracting tourists from all over the world. To ensure the turtles are not bothered, the conservation center only allows few individuals at a time.

Pulau Selingan Island is the only park that the public can access to see how the magic happens. Pulau Bakungan Kecil & Pulau Gulisan are out of bounds. During the visit, park rangers will guide the visitors to ensure the turtle’s natural environment is not distracted in the light of the conservation.  For the mother turtles, it is a sand digging process and burying ritual. You will get an opportunity to see how the eggs are collected, mother turtles docketed, and the young ones enjoying the feel of the Sulu Sea for the first time.

Why You Should Visit Turtle Island in Borneo

Well, to live your life fully, you surely must have to put the Selingan Turtle in your bucket list. Why  wouldn’t anyone want to wake up to a beautiful view of this rare species? It’s like someone not enjoying to pat a beautiful kitten.

As you drive along Borneo and as you restin your accommodation; you will surely see a few of them, but the Turtle Island is by far the best place to view the turtles and understand their lifestyle.

What will I Actually See on Turtle Island?

Turtles! The game wardens are a bit strict with their interaction with human beings. This may seem harsh, but from the conservation point of view, it is an amazing idea. However, they ensure that the visitors get a good encounter with the turtles. Remember to follow the instructions and respect the animals in the park.

In the evening after dinner, you are entertained with a film of the lifecycle of the turtles as well as the challenges they are facing. You will wait up for an hour or until a warden alerts you that a mother turtle is finally there to lay their eggs. At times there may be as many as 23 of them laying, but you are only allowed to see one.

After seeing the mother turtle lay, you are taken to the hatchery to see the babies crawling at the mesh after hatching ready for collection. You then accompany the wardens who carry the babies and let them free at the beach; seeing them run to the water is just a perfect scene.

Besides the turtles, you get to enjoy being on the island, which is a paradise by itself. You can engage in general beach fun, snorkeling, and swimming. In the evening, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset and feel the power of calmness & peace it brings.

How Does the Hatchery on Turtle Island Work?

The Island is popular for nesting mother turtles. Unfortunately, the population of the turtles is slowly decreasing due to the garbage in the fishing nets and seas, as well as lack of safe nesting places. The staff at the hatchery is trying to make the life of the turtles easier by providing them a safe place to nest. They take the eggs of the turtles and place them in a hatchery.This is to protect them from their predators such as birds and insects, and also from other mother turtles who dig up by mistake as they try to find space to lay their eggs. Luckily, the park does not have any stray dogs and cats.

The eggs are buried strategically at the hatchery because the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtle. After hatching, the turtles climb up, but there is a mesh wire to block them until a warden sets them free and place them in water.

Interesting Turtle Facts

The two main turtles that frequent Selingan are Hawksbill Turtles, and Green Turtles. Although the sea turtles are not adventurous, once in a while, they will go wild in search of a mate. Once the deed is done, the female takes over the nesting process. They take 1-3 hours to dig and bury their eggs before returning to the sea.Hawksbill Turtles nest four times every season with a time difference of two weeks and lay 140 to 200 eggs every time. Green Turtles on the other  hand nest  3-5 times and lay 115 eggs per nest.

The hatching process depends on the temperature of the sand, and it could take up to 60 days. The hatching environment of the turtles determines their sex. Eggs from cooler shades hatch as male and eggs from warm shades hatch as females. Once they are hatched, they get to the top to breathe their first fresh air after which they head to the sea.

Where is Turtle Island?

Turtle Island is a section of the marine park between Malaysia and the Philippines, at the coast of Sabah, Borneo. It is a great example of International cooperation for wildlife conservation as the two countries combine their efforts to protect the hatcheries. The easiest way to get to the turtle island is through Sandakan.

How to Get to Turtle Island?

As aforementioned, Turtle Island is a protected area, and only a few people are allowed to the area at a time. It would, therefore, be frustrating to go and not get to see the amazing creatures; to avoid this disappointment book a tour.

You can reach the Island by a boat from Sandakan, which will take about 60 minutes. There are daily flights from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur to this city.

Accommodation in Selingan Island

Selingan Turtle Island Chalet accommodation is a little basic, but it is still comfortable. There are 25-twin beds with all the necessities such as; bathrooms, ceiling fans and air-conditioning. Their toilets are also well-kept and clean. Other facilities in the Selingan Island include; free meals, access to an exhibition hall that showcases everything you need to know about turtles . There is also a general shop where you can buy drinks and simple commodities.


Life is full of adventures.

Life without experiences is not a life fully-lived.

Selingan Turtle Island is a good place to visit to relax. You get to enjoy the cool beach air.

Most importantly, you get to know the nesting process of the sea turtles  and how their hatchlings are conserved in the hatcheries.


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