A Guide to Selingan Turtle Island, Malaysia
Sandakan is fast becoming a top tourist destination for eco and wildlife tourism in Borneo Malaysia. And Selingan Turtle Island, a conservation park for turtles and other marine life is a place not to miss off the list. So if you’re planning a trip to Sandakan or even Sabah and want to find out a little bit more about tours to Selingan Turtle Island, this guide should tell you everything you need to know about how to plan your trip there.
Table of Contents
How do you get to Selingan Turtle Island?
As Selingan Turtle Island is part of a protected marine park, you have to visit it as part of a tour. There are lots of tour companies selling Turtle Island packages you can choose from, but there is only one company that actually runs the tours on the island – Crystal Quest.
Why you should book direct with Crystal Quest?
As Crystal Quest is the company who run the tours on the island, you will get the cheapest possible price by booking direct with them. If you book with another tour operator you’ll usually pay significantly more for exactly the same tour.
The only difference is that you’ll probably get your own guide to accompany you to the island. However, I didn’t think that it was necessary to have a guide or worth paying a higher price as the tour guides that were with other guests whilst we were staying didn’t seem to do all that much. Remember, if you have questions to ask, you can always speak to the island rangers.
How to book with Crystal Quest
The easiest way to book direct with Crystal Quest is to pay a visit to their office in Sandakan. It’s situated just a 15-minute walk from town. From there you can look at availability for the day you want to book onto and even see how many people are already booked onto certain days, so you can choose a quieter day if you want. We arrived in Sandakan and were able to book onto a tour the next day if we had wanted to. But chose to book onto the tour in 2 days time as there were fewer people visiting on that day.
How much is the tour when you book with Crystal Quest?
We paid around 500 MYR each for a 2 day 1-night Selingan Turtle Island tour which included the boat ride there and back, accommodation in a double room, lunch, dinner and breakfast on the island.
What isn’t included in the price?
The 40 MYR conservation fee you pay on arrival at Selingan Turtle Island isn’t included in the price. If you want to take photos you’ll also have to pay a 10 MYR camera fee on the island. Additional activities such as snorkelling are also extra, as are alcoholic drinks and snacks.
What does the tour involve?
The Selingan Turtle Island tour itinerary is as follows:
Meet at Crystal Quest office at 8 am for registration, ready to depart at 9 am for the island.
Once you arrive at Selingan Turtle Island you can check into your room and then the day is yours. There’s a beautiful beach that encircles all the island that you can relax on. And you can also rent out snorkels and flippers here. Lunch is also served in the afternoon.
In the evening the exhibition room opens where you can learn all about the different types of turtles that visit the island and the environmental issues they face. There’s also a short film played that further explains the conservation efforts of the island and marine park.
After dinner, there is then quite a bit of waiting around to do until you get the turtle time call. This means means a turtle is laying her eggs on the beach! We ended up waiting until 11 pm for our turtle time call, so make sure to take some entertainment with you so you don’t get bored waiting (p.s there’s no wifi!).
Once you’ve got the call, your turtle time is split into 3 experiences. Watching a mother turtle laying her eggs on the beach. Observing the ranger collecting the eggs and placing them in their very own man-made nest in the hatchery. And then finally helping to release newly hatched baby turtles into the sea!
After that, you can head to bed as you have to get up early the next day for breakfast and a 7 am departure from the island back to Sandakan.
What’s the accommodation like?
Remember it’s a conservation park you’re visiting not a 5-star resort. So it’s no surprise that the accommodation on the island is quite basic. However, the room we stayed in was very clean and the bed was very comfy so I didn’t have any complaints.
How many nights can you stay on Selingan Turtle Island?
As far as I know, you can stay on the island for as many days as you wish. However, we found 1 night was plenty enough to have an amazing turtle experience