The Pulau Tiga Marine National Park has soared to world fame as ‘Survivor Island’ because of the popular Million Dollar Prize Money TV series ‘Survivor’ by the CBS TV network, USA. This is the exact island that the entire first series was filmed! The fact that this island was chosen was due to its untouched natural landscape and marine life.
Located 48 km south of Kota Kinabalu and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga Park is reached by driving the 140 km to Kuala Penyu, a small settlement on the tip of the Klias Peninsula. From here it is another 18 km, or about 30 minutes, by boat. Another way of getting there is by chartering a speed boat from Kota Kinabalu and cruise to Pulau Tiga, or fly to Labuan Island and charter a speed boat from Labuan.
The Pulau Tiga Park covers an area of 15,864 ha and was gazetted as a National Park in 1978. As far back as 1933, the main island, together with the two smaller islands of Kalampunian Besar and Kalampunian Damit were designated as Forest Reserve.
The Park Headquarters is situated in an open grassy clearing just behind the beach on the southern side of Pulau Tiga and consists of office, staff quarters and a resthouse for visiting scientists. A network of trails, marked at 50 meter intervals, leads to various points of interest. The island was initially developed jointly by the Sabah Parks Trustees and the Sabah branch of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) as a marine research centre, but now there is also a new resort called “Pulau Tiga Resort,” run by a private enterprise with chalets, diving and watersports facilities. For day trips, Pulau Tiga has excellent facilities for BBQ and sun bathing with complete shelter and toilet facilities. You will need to pre-arrange your food and beverages with Pulau Tiga Resort as they only service in-house guest.
There are two more islands in the Pulau Tiga Park, approximately 20 minutes by boat to the north of the main island, Pulau Tiga. They are very different. Kalmpunian Besar is a small sand cay built up from unconsolidated coral fragments, and the shape of the island shifts and changes with the prevailing monsoon winds and currents. Kalampunian Damit (also known as “Snake Island”) is celebrated as a breeding ground for the amphibious sea snake Laticauda colubrina, which comes to the shores to lay eggs. The snakes can usually be seen coiled in a tangled mass under boulders or among tree roots.
THE SURVIVOR SHOW
Survivor (U.S. TV series) is an American version of the Survivor reality television game show, itself derived from the Swedish television series Expedition Robinson originally created in 1997 by Charlie Parsons. The series premiered on May 31, 2000 on CBS. It is hosted by veteran television personality, reporter and one-time game show emcee Jeff Probst, Mark Burnett and Charlie Parsons. Pulau Tiga was chosen to be the first premise.
The first winner of this reality show was Richard Hatch. After 39 days of hard island living, the 39-year old corporate trainer from Newport, Rhode Island, emerged as the “Survivor”. For his troubles and toils, he takes home a million dollars, not to mention a Pontiac Aztek. Viewers may recall Rich’s prediction on Day 1 on the island: “I’ve got the million-dollar check written in my name.”