Peeping out of the Sulu Sea 40km north of Sandakan, three tiny islands comprise the TURTLE ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK. They are favoured egg-laying sites of green and hawksbill turtles, which haul themselves laboriously above the high-tide mark to bury their clutches of eggs almost every night of the year. Although all three islands – Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakungan Kecil and Pulau Gulisan – hold hatcheries, tourists can only visit Selingan.
All the action is at night. As well as seeing a mother turtle laying her eggs, you can watch as the park wardens release newly hatched turtles that waddle, Chaplin-like, into the sea to face an uncertain future. Before dark there’s plenty of time – arguably too much time, given the lack of facilities – for swimming, snorkelling (equipment rental RM25) and sunbathing. Take precautions against sandflies, which can be voracious especially when it rains.