Visiting Pulau Tiga “Survivor Island”3/4/2013

Spearfishing in Kota Belud

I visited Pulau Tiga last month for a 2D/1N dive trip. The experience is one I will not soon forget.

Pulua Tiga is the sight of Season 1 of Survivor. The island also goes by the name of Survivor Island, presumably to attract more tourists. The beauty of this place is tremendous. Macau Monkeys inhabit the treetops while Monitor Lizards freely roam the landscape. There are only two resorts to stay at on the island, helping to protect the nature and beauty while preventing overdevelopment.

The Diving

The Dive Sites in Pulau Tiga

Our 5 dive sites in order.

The dives itself were above average. I only say above average because I have been extremely spoiled visiting some of the top dive sites in the world. The coral looked relatively healthly, but the visibility was quite low. I saw many of the typical reef fish in the area, and a few things I’ve never seen before. Hello Cat Sharks!

The highlight of my dives was watching the boatman hunt for lobsters. This guy is a TRUE legend of the water. He caught 7 large, juicy Spiny Lobsters while we went diving. I didn’t see a single lobster on any of my dives, but somehow he was able to spot his prey in the tiniest of holes and pull them to the surface. More on this later!

In total we did 5 scuba dives. The sites were relatively similar in plant and animal life, but had enough differences to give us a new adventure. I really liked the 1st dive called House Reef aka Lobster Lair, and Panseng for huge schools of small Jack fish and the Cat Sharks. However, what I enjoyed most about this trip is the…..

Activities at Pulau Tiga


While I came for the diving, I received so much more. I spent most of my time with 3 Frenchies (2 travelers and 1 local) exploring and chatting. The mud baths were a favorite of mine at Pulau Tiga. There we drowned ourselves in the mud and relaxed. I couldn’t help but laugh when one of the French guys decided to start a mud war with the Chinese. They loved it!

When we weren’t diving, exploring, or relaxing, the next best thing to do is EAT! Did I mention the boatman caught fresh lobster? Yes I gorged myself on the most delicious lobster I’ve ever eaten! That night we ate like kings and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. Good times all around.

Lobster Dinner at Pulau Tiga

MMMMM Fresh Lobster!

In addition, another eating experience I’ll never forget is what I call “real time fishing”. Let me explain.

Apparently there wasn’t enough food for us (totaling 7) and the Chinese (about 20) during lunchtime on the last day. Instead of buying food at the nearby resort, the locals got together and fished for Jack fish off the jetty. A shiny hook without bait was used to catch the fish. The fisherman drops the hook down into the school of Jack’s. Once he feels the hook is in a good spot, he gives a lightning quick tug hoping to foul hook the fish. The strategy worked amazingly well! Many fish were caught using this method.

The captured fish were killed, gutted, and cooked on the spot! The process took all of 10 minutes for a ready to eat fish. I really enjoyed watching this assembly line in action. A little creativity can solve a lot of problems and make the experience enjoyable to watch!

View Leaving Pulau Tiga

Pulua Tiga is worth checking out if you plan on visiting Borneo, Malaysia. The nature and exclusivity make the island an ideal place to get away and enjoy good company. The landscape has not changed much from the first season of Survivor. There is one additional resort, but the entire backside of the island is undeveloped and covered in jungle. Come here for beauty, sights, sunsets, peace, and happiness!

The picture at the top was actually taken at Kota Belud on a failed spear fishing expedition. The gun is similar to what the boatman used for lobster hunting.

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