Libaran Island: turtle sanctuary AND your own private island
For the last two days in Borneo, Malaysia we wanted to take it down a notch and get some well-deserved relaxation time before heading back to our busy, stressful lives. Libaran Island in Sabah was the place to be.
A motor boat picked us up from the Sabah Parks jetty located at Sandakan Yacht Club and after about 45 minutes we saw the island appearing at the horizon. The water was very clear and at the right side of the boat a turtle appeared, welcoming us. We took our bags out of the boat and were shown around the beach, where a table was set ready to serve lunch a little later. Then we were shown our glamping tents which were very cosy and surely big enough.
We were very happy to hear that we were the only visitors that day and spending the night, so we indeed were having our own private island. How cool is that! We made ourselves comfortable in the lounges overlooking the water with the mangrove trees and just sat there for a while, soaking up the silence and beautiful nature. As we saw that the water was pulling back slowly but steadily, I decided to get a photo shoot on the roll. Nobody there to look at our clumsy poses…
Lunch was amazing, as always in Borneo. More than we could ask for. Afterwards, we took a little nap, before exploring the other side of the island. After all, the idea was to take it easy, right?
Our private guide (that’s how it goes when you have your private island) took us along, going down the beach until we reached a few houses of locals living on the island. That part of the island was a little less heaven-like… All that garbage, plastic bottles and cans that was washed ashore and was now very visible, as the water had pulled away. Dogs and children playing within this mess, so sad. It turned our moods a little bit, to be honest.
Arriving at the first few houses, we were greeted by a father and his little son. We bought two coconuts, which he prepared for us to first drink and then eat the delicious flesh. What was great to see was the art pieces that the locals had made from the plastic that was laying around. Pretty cute. At least a better solution that leaving it around to pollute and further endanger the turtles in the area.
Caro and Peter had brought a bag of balloons with them, so we started to give them to the kids who were crossing our path. A little less enthusiastic as in Nanga Sumpa I must say, but ok. After having strolled around a little bit, we went back the same way we came from, to the more scenic part of the beach – our beach.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty chill, again a wonderful dinner and then it was turtle-time. Or not really… We went to the hatchery where our guide explained us about the turtle program and the sanctuary that was established there in 2012. Before, Libaran island used to be a turtle grave. The eggs would be consumed by the villagers or the stray dogs on the island. Now, the eggs are collected and protected in hollows in the ground. Signs at each hollow show the date when the eggs had been collected as well as the expected hatch time. It seemed like there wouldn’t be eggs hatching any time soon, so we wouldn’t be able to set some of them out. Would have been pretty lucky for this one evening, right? We were shown a video of how the turtle program works and how other visitors appeared to have been luckier than we were. Better next time, I guess?
After a shower, we turned to bed for a silent night… Or not… The generator was so loud! We didn’t realize it during the day, but now it was driving me crazy, literally. Not a lot of sleep for our last night… Could have been better, but hey – what are we complaining about – we were still on our very own private island!
The next morning started of wonderfully, with beautiful skies lightening up the very last day of our amazing vacation. Breakfast was yummy. Afterwards we were surprised by finding out that – all of a sudden – some baby turtles were ready to be released. Hmm, wait a minute… how long did we actually stay on this island? The day before there wasn’t anything coming up… Turned out that two baby turtles were set aside for us to set them free. Not really what we expected and presumably not the best for these turtles, as it seems that they were kept in a bucket with water for a certain period of time. Just to make us tourists happy? We didn’t feel extremely good about this… But anyway, these babies needed to get out, so that’s what we did. It took a little while. We just hope this isn’t because of the fact that these turtles already got some disadvantages from the delayed release…
After this unexpected event, we got our stuff, put it in the boat and headed back to the mainland. There we saw the next family of visitors getting ready to embark on their adventure. Would they be as lucky as we were?