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“A magical experience for us and the kids”
Review of Turtle Island Park

Turtle Island Park
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2-Day Small-Group Tour: Sandakan City and Wildlife Experience from Sabah
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3-Day Tour from Sabah: Sandakan Sightseeing and Wildlife Experience in Sepilok...
Reviewed January 3, 2014

Having been lucky enough to travel a fair bit I'd say this is a 'top 10' experience.

Why? Well its a combination of being on a small, beautiful island, walking around with monitor lizards everywhere, seeing the turtles (and being priviledged to stay on a research station) and enjoying the wonderful beach.

Excitement was increased when I bumped into a guard wielding an automatic weapon - not sure if this is a regular thing or because of the recent nearby attack from Philippines-based raiders who disupted ownership of Sabah by Malaysia.

The accommodation, food and facilities are pretty basic but ok, especially given the set-up and part-tourism/part-research brief of the island (I once stayed on a similar Indian government-owned resort on the Lacadive islands where things were truly awful for $200/night!)

One thing to watch out for when swimming are sea lice (not heard of them before I came here). They are invisible baby jellyfish and they give you a mild sting - not painful but can be pretty uncomfortable when you swim through a group of them and have lots of pin-prick stings on your face or body - many people wore full body suits and there is vinegar available on the beach for stings (apparently helps but most obvious sensation is smelling like a fish and chip shop!).

3  Thank Paul W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 1, 2014

Very informative and clearly they do very valuable conservation work. High point was seeing the hatchlings released however, I was concerned that the turtle who came up to lay eggs was stressed by all the people around her. The rangers say they are in a trance whilst laying eggs so they are not stressed but when we asked our ranger how he knew when a turtle was stressed he said he didn't know! Anyway, ours definitely was stressed when she was tagged but I guess it's all for the greater good. The trip across by boat wasn't too bad but was bumpy at times - would recommend sitting at the back. The rooms we stayed in were basic but clean and well equipped. The food was ok but there was no control over how much people took so ran out quickly. The beach area was nice and swimming was safe - lots of fish. Would definitely recommend the trip.

2  Thank Visitor186299
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2013

We had to wait a day because of bad weather but the day was a cracker, we had the beach to ourselves.
Pristine cleanliness and unbelievable views, truly worthwhile

2  Thank Bob K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2013

If we went for relaxation, the island would be ranked at "very good", or "excellent". If eco purpose, we would say the organization didn't really respect the nature.

Heading to the island from Sandakan, we were leaving the dirty seashore to a crystal water area. Due to low season, it was a "private" island to us, which was perfectly relaxing. Snorkeled in the day time and waited for turtle mother coming in the night time which was the reason we went there.

However, we were sad for the entire progress of handling turtle mother and babies. With no doubt, the tour was perfectly "experienced" and commercial.

We were told to run to the beach once receipt of "turtle call". Upon arrival, the turtle mother had laid no less than 70 eggs (she laid 96 eggs total) and her back legs were apart by metallic sticks in order to let tourists taking photos. After finished the remaining egg laying, the turtle mother breathed heavily which we heard clearly. The rangers (if you call them so) picked up all eggs once she laid down, measured her size and punched a tag to her front leg. This so-called "program 1" lasted no longer than 10 minutes. The group of rangers and tourists left the mother behind to fill the empty nest.

Then, we headed to "program 2" to relocate the eggs. After that, we almost ran to another side of the beach to release newly hatched babies turtles (32 babies) which was called "program 3". A basket of babies turtles was placed on the beach for photo taking; if you had paid 10RM, you were allowed to take photos. The babies were released on the beach where was no longer than 20cm to the water. Putting the light at front to lead the babies clawing to the water. All programs was done in high efficient, no longer than 20 minutes.

The "programs" in short is ok with us; smelly accommodation ok, basic food ok; high tour fee ok; but the way they treat the nature is definitely NOT ok. This so-called conservation organization is actually disturbing the nature. Like other tourists once visited this island, we feel that the organization is exploiting the nature for profit, and we tourists are helping to destroy turtles' chance of survival in the future.

We are sad.

15  Thank Aunatalie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2013

We did Turtle Island as part of a 4 Night Amazing Borneo Tour. The rooms were basic,clean and comfortable and had a bathroom with a shower (salt water) and toilet and basin. The rooms had a fan and air conditioning. The food was nice but could have been a bit warmer but plenty to choose from. We swam and snorkelled on the island in the day after arriving and at night after dinner we saw a turtle lay her eggs, saw several babies hatch and released hundreds of baby turtles into the ocean. This was definitely a highlight of our trip to Borneo. Highly recommend

2  Thank Brooke S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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