Sitting in the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, home to the world’s greatest marine diversity, Sabah is a magnet for divers from around the world. With its glorious tropical islands, teeming coral reefs and atolls, clear water and sandy beaches, this bio-diversity hotspot is indeed a diver’s dream come true.
Over the years, many prominent marine biologists have explored Sabah’s water, including the great Jacques Cousteau who said of Sipadan “I have seen other place like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found again an untouched piece of art... a jewel”.
Among the marine treasure awaiting fivers are rare or endangered creatures such as green and hawksbill turtles, napoleon wrasse, giant clams and countless species if shark, plus thousands of barracudas and jacks.
As well as these large inhabitant of the reef, Sabah offers much diving enthusiast such rarities as the mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, mandarin fish, harlequin ghost pipe fish, many strange frog fish, sea horses and colourful nudibranchs. Such delight are not restricted to qualified divers; the snorkelling is richly rewarding and aspiring divers can enroll in one of the dive course run by resorts and dive operator.
For Pulau Tiga is a low-lying island about 35 nautical miles southwest of Kota Kinabalu, and is reached by road to Kuala Penyu, followed by a 15-minute speedboat ride. Pulau Tiga is the largest of the three islands within the Pulau Tiga Park (gazetted in 1978)), the order islands being Kalapunian Damit and Kalampunian Besar (better known as Snake Island for the sea snakes which breed there).
There are several species of mammals including the ubiquitous macaque monkeys and reptiles such as the large monitor lizards. The interesting birdlife includes the hen-like megapode, which incubates its eggs in the hot sand, while there are countless insect and wild orchids to be seen. Given its unspoiled environment, it’s not surprising that Pulau Tiga was chosen as the location for the first US TV series, Survivor.
There are only two resorts on Pulau Tiga, promising a tranquil holiday. The original Pulau Tiga Resort, nestling in the forest behind a sandy beach, offers PADI dive courses and dive sites for both novice and experienced divers. The surrounding reef are shallow, with healthy coral and visibility up to 20m (less during the southwest monsoon). The rich variety of marine life includes nudibranchs, bamboo sharks, cuttlefish and marbled stingray, with guaranteed sighting of banded sea snakes on Snake Island.
Borneo Survivor Resort on the eastern side of the island, offer a range of beach games, boating, fishing and snorkelling.