Pulau Tiga National Park, Malaysia


I don’t mind mud. Well at least I didn’t think I did. My son on the other hand can’t stand having his hands dirty for a minute. Visiting volcanic mud was a holiday activity I was not sure how he would deal with. I so desperately wanted him to try something outside of his comfort zone with a new experience.  I mean, it’s mud it washes off right?

Crocs are required
You need rubber shoes for this experience. Rubber shoes that are not thongs (flip flops for nationalities inclined to call them by that name) We had stopped on the way to the island to buy a pair of $1 crics or $2 nitives (I have taken the liberty of renaming the knock-offs to a similar name) You walk for about 20 minutes until you get to one of several mud pools on the island. The mud bubbles away and once in you are covered in dove grey goo. What was sold to me as a refreshing dip was not exactly ‘refreshing’. I hoped desperately it was going to have anti-ageing properties or exfoliation abilities. Getting in and out of the burping bath was interesting. Once smothered with this grey guk, you slip and slide everywhere. There is no handsome pool boy to assist or even functional essentials such as a pool ladder. Tree roots do the job but only by applying some muscle.

The most amazing thing is you float. If being covered in mud is unappealing then this experience is the one reason for giving it a go. I look like I am sitting on a ledge in these photos, but no! Floating like sitting in a chair. Totally mind boggling and cool. My son  got in after very little coaxing. You can see in the photos he wasn’t ‘loving’ it but he experienced it. The whole floating thing to him was not nearly as fascinating. But, that’s where the coolness stops. Sticks in my butt and twigs in my bra… not at all welcome. I certainly didn’t put my face in this stuff. We had packed swimmers that could be thrown out after this… and thrown out they were. My miraculous skin repair treatment eventuated in red raw skin from scrubbing the mud off!

Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga has many nearby coral reefs. One right in front of the resort. The photo below on top right is of the point you look at from the resort. There is a reef stretching some 200 metres squared to the left of the tip. The island is wonderfully low key with nothing much to do other than read a book and swim. The resort has no power between 9.00am and 12.00pm as the generator goes down for a period of time. Like most islands, as things are brought in by boat, only necessities make it. All meals are provided but be ready to fight the monkeys for your breakfast. The staff stand to attention with sling shots (merely to scare them off and not to hurt them) but they managed to steal the pancakes I had held for my son while he slept. The food was mediocre at best. If there are day trippers to the island I suggest you get to the buffet before they do. Fussy eaters will of course find rice and fruit. (surprisingly monkeys don’t go for fruit)

Pack a torch – don’t forget

In the evenings a torch is a must as the island is home to a venomous snake. They are pretty yellow and black banded things – but no thanks, don’t need to step on one. There are oversized monitor lizards fighting over kitchen scraps. They look like a smaller komodo dragon and being near one appeals to me as much as finding a banded snake. These lizards are vegetarian apparently and don’t attack. I didn’t risk it.

Alcohol restrictions or rather limitations

Having been in the jungle and travelling for some time at this point, I was in need of a drink. I paid 140 RM for a bottle of mediocre Aussie white wine. It came out of a wine fridge (a wine fridge that wasn’t plugged in so therefore acts like an oven not a fridge… not good for wine) Seriously I have had $5 bags of goon (apologies for the aussie term… goon is a very cheap wine that is cheaper still by the fact it is packed in a bladder like bag with a spout and not even in a bottle) that tasted better. I was that desperate that I even added 1/3 vodka and 1/3 mixer to try and drink it. The desperados on my tour gained from my fussiness. I really need to learn to drink beer for trips like this!

Slice of heaven

Our last day was a beautiful still morning and having made the decision to stay on the island over rushing back to Kota Kinabalu. I loaded up the kayak with all the little kids and we set off to explore the reef. The water was like a sheet of glass. Crystal clear and flat as a tack. (excuse my Aussie lingo… basically means it was ‘as flat as’) The previous day we had gone out to snake island and then snorkelling off a reef. My son hadn’t enjoyed it. His mask didn’t fit and the snorkel wouldn’t seal. The resort only had one mask for kids – go figure when they must have a family group at least monthly they don’t have lifejackets or masks for kids! I had eventually told him to leave his mask on and ditch the snorkel. He then just paddled along holding my shoulder and I would tap him when he needed to take a breath and have a look at some fish. On this morning however, we just sat in the kayak. kayak2

Inventing games to build kids interest

The water was so clear and flat the kids were actually playing a game. Spot 5 parrot fish and you would get a point. One point = one Chupa Chup lollipop. When they had got to 20 points each – we switched fish! We saw green sea turtles. We saw so many amazing coral fish. All of that from a kayak just paddling up and down the edge of the reef. It was so beautiful. The kids would get hot and jump in for a dip. It was a fabulous morning. As we paddled back to the resort, The most thrilling of all… I saw a dugong. A big hairy nosed wonderful dugong. In the wild!. In nature! Amazing, beautiful and absolutely the most peaceful creature I have ever seen. A dugong!


Survivor Island

The name Pulau Tiga actually means ‘three islands’ a small chain of islands created during an eruption of mud volcanoes in the late 1890s. The island can be seen on the first series of the TV series Survivor. Nick-named ‘Survivor Island’. TV fans may expect to see parts from the show, don’t bother. The few relics that are around could of been made by me! The staff having either no interest what so ever or are sick to death of answering questions about a show that they possibly don’t watch & know nothing! I asked were tribal council was located and where the camps were located. Nothing! Frankly… watching the show to relive where you went is a far better option.

Luxury to come to PUlau Tiga

YTL resorts have a development under construction on the island. The link does not commit a date but I assume will be updated as they progress. Building on islands can’t be quick as you would be hugely vulnerable tot he weather. We stayed with YTL Hotels group earlier in our trip on Gaya Island off Kota Kinabalu (read more here)  and I couldn’t fault them. I would happily go back to Palau Tiga once YTL has opened their resort. I’ve survived enough for now.


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