Pulau Tiga Island, Sabah – the journey, the resort, the wilderness, the sea

Pulau Tiga’s meteoric rise to fame is credited solely to none other than being the first ever ‘secret’ location for the hit reality series, ‘Survivor’. And hence, the popular monicker of “Survivor Island” has stuck on ever since.

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I was thrilled to be here, one of reasons being that it would be my first ever island holiday in the pristine waters of Sabah; another was just in awe that I am on the very island where the reality series was shot.

The beginning: THE JOURNEY.

Getting there meant starting with a 2 hours road ride from KK town, Sabah to Kuala Penyu.
As demonstrated by my fellow travellers Fei & Brad, do take a nap so you are rejuvenated by the time your feet meets the sands of Pulau Tiga. 😉

fei and brad

Upon arrival at the Kuala Penyu, which is a small little town where the jetty is located, we were transfered via motorboat to the coast of Pulau Tiga.

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The motorboat ride takes approximately 30 mins, navigating through murky waters along the South China Sea.

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** Sights along the way...

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Sit back, strap up into a life jacket, and relish the crisp sea breeze whipping through your hair and on your face.

on the boat to Pulau tiga

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Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the staff of Pulau Tiga Resort, who kindly assisted with our bags.

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The motorboat docks at the jetty, and one would have to walk along the “bridge” to get to the island.

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The main area for gatherings is the Survivor Bar. It also serves as the main dining area, with drinks & beers & alcohol available for sale.

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Centuries old trees, warm climate & clean air induces one to relax and de-stress, which is the whole point of an island holiday to begin with isn’t it?

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Clean sandy beach lines the perimeter of the island. Perfect for that morning run or a leisurely walk.

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The resort offers various sports activities and there is a “water sports centre” (pictured below.) Choose from snorkelling, scuba diving, jet-skiing, kayaking, fishing and many more. Gears are available for rent at reasonable rates.
The Dive Center also offers scuba diving courses from a beginners’ level to professional Divemaster, so rest assured that the divemasters here are suitably trained and your safety is assured.

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Unfortunately for me, the waters are not as crystal clear as I would have liked. I was told it was due to the rainy season. Visibly was just a feet away at most.

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The whole resort is pretty self-sustained. The staff here has their own living quarters. There is even WIFI at the Survivor Bar, and electricity is powered by a generator.

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Laundry house.

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Sustenance: THE FOOD.

Below are examples of our meals here. Meals are served at specific times & buffet-styled. Grab a plate, & take your pick from the spread, which was not too bad by any standards, quality & taste-wise. We were treated to fresh sweet grilled fishes, tender black pepper beef, crunchy curry prawns and tangy Thai salads.

Dinner 1st nite

Breakfast spread.

Brekie 2nd mornin

Points would have to be awarded to the chef for presentation! 😉


The view: SUNSET.

Breathtaking. As expected.

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Iguanas and monitor lizards are the resident reptiles here. Expect to encounter them from time to time as you walk around the resort. And yes, they are carnivourous.

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They were actually fed by the resort operators! No fret though, as they do not attack humans; we were told. Just avoid provoking them too.

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When night falls, the creatures came out to play. Below is the yellow -ringed snake, touted as one of the most poisonous snakes in the world.

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Upon checking -in, the kind staff of the resorts escorts and carries your luggage to your allocated chalet for you.


Accomodation here are chalet-styled, with each housing 1 or 2 rooms. There are also triple sharing longhouse accommodation for budget travellers.

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Mine was a 2 rooms chalet, with the master room ensuite, and the 2nd room with twin beds.  Below: The simple living area.

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The master bedroom.

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Cupboards, side tables, curtains, air conditioners & adequate amount of powerpoints are provided.

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My room came with a spare mattress in addition to the Queen-sized bed.

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Save on electricity. Use the fan instead.

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The washroom was well equipped as well. Mirrors, toilet rolls, soap dispenser, heater and pretty decent water pressure for the shower head.

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The other room which has the twin sharing one.

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The twin sharing room shares the main washroom which is within the chalet.

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Pulau Tiga is also famous for its therapeutic natural volcanic mud. .

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………….which you can read about from my post HERE! 😉


Group picture: We had so much fun, oh yes we did, didnt’ we? 😉
Thank you Firefly & Sabah Tourism Board for the experience!

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GETTING THERE: Pulau Tiga is located about 10 km (6 miles) offshore of Sabah near Kuala Penyu town on the tip of the Klias Peninsula. If you are in Kota Kinabalu, it will take about 90 minutes by road followed by a 20-30 minutes powerboat trip from town (a sub-district of Kuala Penyu) to the island and its marine park.

Daily Standard Boat Transfer Schedule

  • Kuala Penyu to Pulau Tiga Resort: 1000 hrs ; 1500 hrs
  • Pulau Tiga Resort to Kuala Penyu: 0900 hrs ; 1400 hrs
  • Pulau Tiga Resort
    Tel: +6088-240584
    Fax: +6088-240415
    E-mail: [email protected]
    [email protected]

    This Post Has 26 Comments

    1. pw


      Am I that influential on the choice of words? hehhee

    2. Sean

      Ooh I remember watching that survivor season filmed here! Was a big fan! Didn’t realize the island has become a tourist destination that’s still going strong! 😀

      1. rebeccasaw

        Haha.. I think the island was immediately ear-marked for development once the season started airing on TV!

    3. Michelle Chin

      I really love the turtle watermelon and the sunset! So romantic!

      1. rebeccasaw

        Romantic huh?
        Well, I think I like the watermelon better then! ;p

      1. rebeccasaw

        All taken naturally & I posted without any editing work! 😉

    4. Lan S. Othmann

      Oh my! The monitor lizards are scary… but the island itself is too beautiful to ignore.. and the volcanic mud is tempting too..

      1. rebeccasaw

        The volcano mud is awesome! LOL. Make sure you’re wearing cloths that you can dispose of after that!
        The island is beautiful yes!

    5. henry^munkey

      u must be really enjoying ur trip there, i wanna try the mud bath someday. The watermelon turtle is so cute… hahahaha~

      1. rebeccasaw

        Oh yes, I did. Except for some minor incident on one of the nights.
        The watermelon turtle is isn’t it! heh!;-)

    6. Andrew

      That turtle shape watermelon was cute haha. The place looks pretty relaxing. Hhhm..tempting for a holiday. May be one don’t have to go far to enjoy 😀

      1. rebeccasaw

        Oh no! We can go east coast – Lang Tengah etc! Nearer!
        No need maldives ;p

    7. stupe

      Kuala Penyu holds a special place in my heart as i had to commute there every day for 3 days to work on the only Petrol station three years ago. 🙂

      Love the crossing using the barge on chain rails…

    8. Misao

      Hi Rebecca. This is a viewer from Japan. Thanks for sharing your trips and many photos! I plan to visit the island this December. When you went there in February, how was the weather? Any sunshine and blue sky?

      Also, I am thinking between the Superior Chalet and Standard Chalet. Was the one you stayed a Standard with cold shower? How was it? Did you have a chance to take a look at the Superior Chalet?

      1. rebeccasaw

        hi hi!!
        Thank you for your kind words! I’ve never been to Japan, wish I could visit soon! 🙂 But I love Jap food! Haha..

    9. offshore company

      I have been surfing online greater than 3 hours nowadays, but I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It?s lovely value sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the internet might be a lot more useful than ever before.

    10. Mus

      beautiful sunset pics..

      1. rebeccasaw

        Thank you! 😀
        Thanks for dropping by my humble blog 🙂

    11. Max Carlsberg

      may i ask what is the fee total from kuala penyu to Pulau Tiga island resort? the chalet per night ?

      1. rebeccasaw

        Hi Max!
        Ermmm I can’t remember as it was quite a while ago. Drop me an email? I can forward your query then

    12. Jackie de Vers


      Informative blog. Question though. Youve mentioned that there’s accommodation for budget travellers. How much does it cost?

    Leave a Reply

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