The Turtle Islands Park, also known as Pulau Penyu National Park, comprises of three islands, which are Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakkungan Kecil and Pulau Gulisan. The Park is famous for its green and hawksbill turtles, which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands. The islands are protected within marine parks on both sides of the Malaysian and Philippine borders. Turtles nest year round, but are more common between July and October when the seas are calmer.
Selingan island is the 2nd largest of the cluster at 8 hectares and contains the park's headquarters, a visitor centre, basic tourist facilities and accommodation and a turtle hatchery. There are chalets on these islands that can accommodate a maximum of 60 persons a night, which is good as that mean only a maximum of 60 visitors can stay overnight at any one time so as not to create too much pressure to the environment and to the turtles. The rooms are very comfortable with basic amenities. Each group of rooms has a common sitting area for relaxation. Tourists normally wait in the restaurant area after dinner while the guides watch out for turtles coming ashore.
The turtles come ashore on the east and southwestern parts of the island to lay their eggs before returning to the sea. The turtles can come as early as 7pm, or as late at 2am and have also been seen nesting in the early hours of the morning between 5 to 6am. Tourists are able to watch the turtles arrive on the beach, lay the eggs and return to the ocean, then help the rangers return the new born hatchlings to the beach, where they race to the sea. The park has a sensible policy of allowing visitors to see only one landing a night. This allows undisturbed nesting to go on throughout the night.
The other activity you can enjoy on these islands is snorkeling. On the west side of the island, closer to the chalets is the best place to snorkel or just tan in the sun. There is mats and snorkel equipment for rent here. If you're interested in turtle migration, etc., and also other marine species found in Turtle Island, there are information centre upstairs of the dining hall at the resort.
Turtle Islands are accessible by boat from the city of Sandakan. A boat ride from Sandakan Harbour may take anything between 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on weather conditions and the boat's speed.