The Pulau Tiga Park comprises three islands – Pulau Tiga, Pulau Kalampunian Besar and Pulau Kalampunian Damit situated in the Kimanis Bay, off the west coast of Sabah. Gazetted as a National Park in 1978, it covers approximately 15,257 hectares of sea and underwater habitat including the three islands. Lush forests serve as a soothing green backdrop for white sandy beaches and the clear unpolluted waters of the coral fringed seas.
FLORA & FAUNA
The undisturbed shoreline abounds with a colourful variety of plant life such as the Barringtonia Asiatica easily distinguished by its delicate white flowers with pink stamen-like filaments. There are also Callophylum, Termanilia catappa and Casuarina not forgetting the Ardisia, a small bushy tree with clusters of tiny pink flowers. The Ranggu and Keruing are also abundant here. One particularly important tree among tropical islanders is the Hibiscus tiliaceus, a tree with bright yellow flowers whose fibrous bark is used for ropes and boat caulking. It is also a source of timber, firewood and medicine. The many varieties of birds include the fish eating frigate birds which roost on Pulau Kalampunian Damit and the unusual looking megapode. Hornbills, night jars, magpies, bulbuls, the brilliantly coloured and fast moving sunbirds and black-napped bridled terns also inhabit the islands. Long-tailed macaques are easily discernible between the foliage while bats sleep hanging ‘upside-down’ from the trees waiting for evening before embarking on their nocturnal food hunting expeditions.
Reptiles include the grey-tailed racer snake, the beautiful yellow-ringed cat snake found on Pulau Tiga and a large population of sea snakes on Pulau Kalampunian Besar earning it the name, ‘Snake Island’. There are also numerous water monitor lizards preying on the megapode eggs. The ‘homeless’ hermit crab can also be seen into shells abandoned by the sea snails or other mollusk like a fugitive avoiding detection! A 7km coral reef around the island is home to some 35 general species and 98 species of hard corals and their accompanying ‘guest’ – the brightly coloured fish and other marine life to whom the reef is home.
PLANNING AN ITINERARY
The island consist of three low hills that were formed when ‘volcanoes’ of mineral-rich mud were spewed out from underground. Since the last explosion in 1941, the ‘volcanoes’ have remained passive, leaving the island relatively serene. Coral fragments from the encircling reef, make up the fine sand of its clean white beaches, while the lush green forest is reflected in the emerald depths of the crystal clear sea. The island is a sanctuary for the megapode Megapodus freycinet, a curious chicken-like creature that produces a cat-like meow sound. Trails winding through the undisturbed forest are worthwhile exploring if you wish to glean something of its flora and fauna. With a rest house and hostel facilities catering to a maximum of 20 persons at any one time, the islands is ideal for overnight stays.
Pulau Kalampunian Damit
The islands owe its fame to the sea snakes Laticauda colubrina which breed here in large numbers. These black-ringed snakes prey on eels and can usually be seen coiling in cosy clusters amongst the rocks where they lay their eggs.
A new resort has recently opened on Pulau Tiga to cater for tourist and divers. Previously there were only a few chalets and a hostel operated by Sabah Parks, which could cater for 20 people. The new Pulau Tiga Resort offers a variety of accommodation, a restaurant and a bar. It also offers diving activities and PADI dive courses.
You can take a bus from Kota Kinabalu, near the Segama overhead bridge, to the Kuala Penyu Jetty. The one-way ticket for this 120km journey costs RM18. Another option is to charter a taxi from the Merdeka Field to the jetty for RM180. Upon arrival, just take a 45-minute boat ride to the islands.