Tiga Island

Tiga Island

This island found off the west coast of Sabah is not only well-known for being the location of a famous reality show but also for its breathtaking beauty.

View on map


According to a local folktale, there once lived three princesses of a powerful king on three different islands. The tale goes on to say that the elder sisters were terribly jealous of their youngest sister as she had fallen in love with a very handsome prince. Instead of rejoicing in their sister's happiness, they turned to the dark powers of black magic and cast a spell on the prince, turning him into a turtle shaped rock. Heartbroken and full of grief, the youngest sister ran away to another island and sought comfort in the company of sea snakes. As a punishment for their heinous act, the king turned their beautiful islands into mud volcanoes. It is believed that the eruption of the mud volcanoes are actually cries of regret of the two sisters, the mud lava spewing from the volcanoes are their tears, which over the years joined together creating the Tiga Island that we now know.

This small group of uninhabited islands which is located in Kimanis Bay, Sabah consists of three islands, namely Tiga Island, Kalampunian Besar Island and Kalampunian Damit Island. The biggest island of the three, Tiga Island was born as a result of an eruption from several mud volcanoes combined with pressure from subterranean gases, which caused muddy sediment to be expelled from underground. Due to this natural phenomenon, the island's highest point is about 100 metres above sea level. The islands were gazetted as a national park in 1978, which was not surprising as the area was already designated as forest reserves since 1933. The national park was created to ensure that the natural environment, which includes the coral reefs and marine life surrounding the islands, are well protected and preserved. Kalampunian Besar Island is actually a sand cay that is built from coral fragments. As such, the shape of the island changes according to the direction of the blowing winds and open sea currents. Kalampunian Damit Island is famous for the amphibious and poisonous sea snakes. These snakes are often found tangled in coils under the rocks as their eggs are laid on the shores of the beaches.

The state's preservation efforts concerning Tiga Island's natural and pristine environment bore great returns when the island was selected to be the location for a famous reality show, Survivor. Though the island was only used for one season of the show, it is still reaping the benefits from it. Visitors to the island will be able to see the numerous props and objects used for the show placed all over the island. These props help make them feel like they are part of the reality show, which complements the air of wildness from being on an island so untouched by humans. Diving around the waters of Tiga Island is like visiting a totally new world. Pinnacles covered with corals, cleaning stations bustling with 'customers', fishes and corals in all colours, shapes and sizes can be seen in this underwater garden. Schooling barracudas, blue spotted rays, fusiliers and large beds of anemone and clown fish are often spotted within this vicinity. Another activity which visitors should try while visiting the island is a dip in the mud pools. The mud is cool on the skin, and some claim that their skin feels very much more softer after a soak. This is a truly unique experience as there are no other natural mud pools found on any other islands in Malaysia.

Tiga Island is only accessible by boat. The point of departure is Kuala Penyu, a small town located approximately 48 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu. From Kuala Penyu, it will take another 30 minutes via speedboat to reach the island.