For the marine enthusiast, the blue-green mesmerizing beauty of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park beckons with a hundred and one promises of a wonderful experience both above and underwater.
Lying 20 kilometers (approximately 2-hour boat ride away) off the Semporna mainland, The Tun Sakaran Marine Park is the largest marine park in Sabah. At 350 square kilometers, it also has the largest concentration of coral reefs in Malaysia.
This Marine Park, which is also known as the Semporna Islands Park, comprises of eight islands—Bohey Dulang, Bodgaya, Sebangkat, Selakan, Mantabuan, Sibuan, Maiga, as well as the Church Reef and Kapikan Reef. Bohey Dulang and Bodgaya islands are extinct volcanic remnants while Sebangkat and Selakan are two islands of raised limestone platforms.
Although the islands of Tun Sakaran Marine Park are lesser known compared to Sipadan Island; the marine park is said to have an even higher level of biodiversity than in Sipadan. Whereas Sipadan has a collection of bigger fish and an abundance of turtles, sharks, and other marine lives inhabiting its waters; Tun Sakaran Park has more biodiversity in terms of species and habitats.
Tun Sakaran Marine Park is not equipped with facilities for tourists; however, visitors are welcome to explore the marine park’s dive sites with their snorkels and scuba gears. Divers have reported many sightings of eagle rays, turtles, barracuda, bumphead parrotfish, and plenty of nudibranchs. There are large walls and a cornucopia of macrolife in the Bodgaya lagoon, while the sandy areas are home to big gorgonian fans and sea pens.
Not a water buff? Take some time to tour the Tun Sakaran Marine Research Unit in Bohey Dulang Island where the giant clam spawning and seaweed farming centre is located. This centre cultivates seven species of giant clams - two of which are already extinct - to be released back into the sea after 6-7 months.
*Prior to visit, visitors need to obtain a permit from Sabah Parks.
The journey to from Tawau to Semporna by road takes approximately one hour. The transfer to Tun Sakaran Marine Park by speedboat takes about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
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