Borneo Lifestyles

Sea Turtles


Turtle Island Sanctuary in Sabah

Sea Turtles, toothless, strong jawed, they do not need to eat every day. They can go up to a whole month without eating. They come to many of the Islands off of Borneo to lay their eggs. Green sea turtles can swim 250 miles in one week. They migrate every year.

Female sea turtles come ashore at night during the high tide to lay their eggs. They dig a hole in the sand for their eggs, up to 200 eggs. Laid eggs are called a clutch. The eggs hatch in several months. When they hatch, the baby turtles scurry towards the water and are on their own. Sea turtles reach maturity in 10 years.


If you are a scientist interested in studying the turtles and helping out the Sarawak researchers, please contact us.

-- If you are not a scientist, -- then look below for your opportunity to experience one of natures’ most exciting lifecycles.


Watch Video


We boarded the boat to take us out to Turtle Island. We began with the cruise winding out of the river through a mangrove forest, passing a small fishing village on both banks of the river. We then went to Libaran Island for lunch. Michelle, Winnie and myself took a leisurely stroll through the small fishing village just south of the jetty. We walk along a small trail reflecting the sun’s heat up from the trail. We passed a school and many houses. On the way back we cut through a few backyards to reach the ocean and walked on the course sandy beach. There was quite a bit of trash that had washed up on shore from the currents.

We returned back to the jetty and then walked to the north side where the bungalows where the white sand was finer to walked on as we cooled our feet in the warm water. We stopped underneath the shade form a tree and relaxed about ten yards form the water edge. Time stopped. Then lunch time arrived. When returned we had a small buffet style lunch that was prearranged by the tour operator.

Selingan Island grew as the sun began it’s slow and hot ascent. We landed in the small bay and stored our overnight packages in the air conditioned bungalows. We then went to the opposite side of the small Island and laid on the beach and snorkeled in the clear blue water. The number of fishes overwhelmed the limited number of guests on the Islands. We filled the reminder of the afternoon with a gentle walk around the Island.

As dusk came, we assembled in the cafeteria and ranger station to eat and peruse the upstairs the museum as we waited for the turtles. The was no way of knowing what time the turtles would come up on shore to lay their eggs. Once we arrived at the station, we had to wait until the turtles came up.

We walked to the beach, just outside the station and watched a distant thunderstorm over the mainland. A coolness of a distant storm came over us, but there were no indications that rain would drown our relaxing time. About 10 pm someone said to come and all 30 of the group went over to where a four-foot long turtle had dug a pit and was beginning to lay her 30-40 eggs. We watched the eggs safely drop. We were quiet and careful not to shine our flashlights on the turtle so that we would not spook her. The rangers took them out and counted the eggs before they transported them to the hatchery.

We then went back to the ranger stations. A few minutes later, the rangers brought back a plastic shopping basket full of baby turtles that had been incubating in their shell for 50-60 days. They had been buried a little more than 1 foot deep in the sand. He let us come and hold them. We were ginger, like holding a human baby. No flash photography since the flash could blind the turtles. Then we took the basket over to the beach. A bout 10 meters form the water edge, we let the turtles go. Almost on queue, they seemed to follow the moonlight to the water. A few hatchlings got tired and had trouble making to the water, but most had plenty of energy. They entered the water and dove. Then they came up for a breath of air and dove again. That was the last we saw of them as they began their long journey to avoid fish and birds as they went out to sea.

Liberan Island Egg Laying Turtle
Liberan Island - relax in a small fishing village Sea turtle laying eggs Turtle Eggs in sand
Turtle Hatchery Leaving the next
Hatchery - Eggs take 50 - 60 days to hatch, buried 18 inches in the sand Just hatched turtles Sear Turtles leaves the next


(Great Add on to the Orang Utan Tour)

Tour Code: Turtle/02

Visit Turtle Island to watch the sea turtles lay their eggs and then watch the young hatchlings make their way to the ocean for the very first time at this nature sanctuary..

DAY 1:

Libaran Island - Selingan Turtle Island

Cruise through a mangrove forest, watch out for occasional stork-billed kingfishers perched on top of the branches. Arrive at Libaran Island for lunch and a chance to take a leisurely stroll through the quaint fishing village to witness the lifestyle of the villagers - you have to be there to experience and feel this special environment. After lunch, we will transfer to Selingan Turtle Island . Grab your mask, fins and snorkel and head to the beach where you can find lots of juvenile marine life. Before dinner, treat yourself to a slide show featuring information of the turtle park and turtles. After dinner, park rangers will take you to the egg-laying site to witness turtles lay eggs and also a chance to calculate the amount of eggs being laid on that night. You will also get a chance to hold and release young turtles to the ocean. L,D

DAY 2:

Wake up for an early morning stroll on the beach and maybe discover some more hatchlings making their way out to sea. Catch a boat back to Libaran Island for after breakfast. Then transfer back to Sandakan for your onward journey. End of tour

One night’s accommodation at Selingan Island three meals, return transfer and boat ride. Guided tours.

Camera fees


Sabah Sarawak West Malaysia