Malaysia // Sabah //

Pulau Tiga National Park

In the South China Sea, 12km north of Kuala Penyu, Pulau Tiga National Park once consisted of three islands, but wave erosion has reduced one to a mere sand bar. Of the remaining two, Tiga and Kalampunian Damit, only the former holds any accommodation. It acquired a degree of fame in 2001 as the location of the first series of the American reality-TV show Survivor.

Most visitors today content themselves with relaxing on the sandy beaches and snorkelling or diving in the azure sea, but it’s possible to hike right around the island in six hours. An easy twenty-minute walk to the centre of Pulau Tiga leads to a couple of (lukewarm) mud volcanoes. Slip and slide around there, then walk 1.2km further to clean up at lovely Pagong-Pagong beach. Be warned, though, that walking can be hard going if your feet and flip-flops are muddy.

Just 1km northeast of Pulau Tiga, Kalampunian Damit is also known locally as Pulau Ular (Snake Island), because it attracts a species of venomous sea snake called the yellow-lipped sea krait. The island is normally visited as part of a morning trip from Pulau Tiga Resort, combined with some snorkelling. It used to be possible to see dozens of snakes on a good day, but now they seem to be much more scarce and some visitors come away disappointed.