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Last updated on June 5, 2021
Selingan is part of the Turtle Islands, a small archipelago north of Sabah. Protected by a National Park, it is known for being an important nesting site for green and hawksbill sea turtles. From the island’s beach, you can snorkel a shallow coral reef, on which clownfish, wrasse, butterflyfish, and giant clams live.
Selingan is one of the three islands that form the Turtle Islands National Park, located approximately 40km north of the town of Sandakan. You can get there by boat for the day (there is often only one round trip per day), or stay overnight on the island at the Selingan Island Chalets. The boat trip between Sandakan and Selingan Island takes around 1 hour.
Enter the water along the beach in the northeast of the island (see map above).
The recommended snorkeling area in Selingan faces the island’s northeast beach.
Entering the water from the shore, you can explore a shallow reef (↕3-9ft/1-3m), however quite poor in corals. The seabed is mainly strewn with massive porous coral, in which hundreds of colorful Christmas tree worms and numerous giant clams are embedded.
While roaming the reef, you will come across sea anemones inhabited by ocellaris clownfish, common at this location. Several species of butterflyfish, rabbitfish, wrasses, damselfish, and parrotfish are also found on the reef. From time to time, you’ll spot a small longfin grouper camouflaged on the seabed.
If Selingan is famous for the observation of green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beaches of the island, it is however rare to see them in the water.
The Selingan Island Chalets is the only accommodation available on the island.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Reef drop off with fish and turtles
Vibrant reef drop off loaded with fish
Vibrant coral reef with an abundance of fish
Healthy coral reef with fish and turtles
Small island fringed by coral reefs with colorful fish
Steep drop off with corals, turtles and reef fish
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