White sandy beach of Timba-Timba Island

Pulau Timba-Timba, a Instagram Island

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How to show that you are having a great vacation? Sharing beautiful photos of course, and you won’t go wrong with beach. Though Sabah has 394 islands and Timba-Timba Island (or Pulau Timba-Timba) is only a relative new island destination, I can foresee it would become the next favourite of Instagram models.

Timba-Timba Island of Semporna
“I followed my heart, and it led me to the beach.”
Sitting at the jetty of Pulau Timba-Timba
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of Instagramming things.” – Henry Miller

Timba-Timba is blessed with a one-Kilometre long stretch of white sandy beach flanked by crystal blue sea. I always think that to make an attraction popular on social media, the cheapest way is to create some Insta-worthy spots for their visitors to take photos to share on their Instagram, Weibo, etc., instead of spending thousands on advertising. Visitors also can get stunning pictures without the budget of a Maldives trip. Big win-win for both, if the photo goes viral.

Looking at the sea on Timba-Timba Island
“We dream in colors borrowed from the sea.”
Walking on the boardwalk to Timba-Timba Island
“Sunburn or burnout? Your call.”

The operator of Timba-Timba seems to fully understand how social media works and turns this small island into a Instagrammer playground. Decorated huts, sunbathing chairs, colourful parasol, photo booth, swing, hammock, etc. are placed all over the island. You can take it to the next level by using props such as unicorn float and glass kayak. If I’m a wedding photographer, I would recommend couples to get their wedding album done here.

Girl sitting on the boardwalk of Timba-Timba Island
“Travel is glamorous only if you use the right filter.” – Paul Theroux

Along the long beach, your every photo has crystal blue sea and white sandy beach as fabulous background. Every few steps you would find something cool to snap. During my visit, I saw 90% of the visitors were taking photos. So this is the best place to flex your muscles or curvy body in bikini without looking like a narcissist.

Sea of Timba-Timba Island
“Life’s a beach.”

Be creative and original, avoid those cliché poses such as Yoga tree pose, and vapid captions that make the eyes of your followers roll, for example, “Not all who wander are lost”, “Live laugh love”. They are used to be inspiring but now become a boring digital waste after being overused.

“Beauty attracts the eye but moment catches the heart.”
Reading book on the hammock of Timba-Timba Island
“A vacation should be just long enough that your boss misses you, and not long enough for him to discover how well he can get along without you.”

If you are still unsure what to share, just post more boobs photo, which is unarguably a very important piece of content on Instagram. Guys literally only want one thing and it’s healthy. Ok ok I’m just joking. Anyway please tag me at @mysabah if you do that.

Beach of Pulau Timba-Timba
“Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” – Susan Sontag
Lady walking on the beach of Pulau Timba-Timba
“Time to seas the day.”

Besides photo-taking as a main activity there, Timba-Timba is a wonderful place to laze around, sunbathing and reading book (the sea breeze cut off the noise of tourists quite effectively). The facilities are quite basic. The 200-Metre-long wooden jetty leads you to a roofed dining hall with benches and chairs, which can fit over 30 people comfortably, and clean toilets are available. You can rest in the beach-side gazebo, which got nice sea view wherever you face.

Laying on the hammock of Pulau Timba-Timba
“Take only selfies, leave only ‘Likes’”

Timba-Timba has about 10 dive sites for scuba divers to check out some frog fish, nurse sharks, moray eels, barracudas, etc. Whale is sighted too but rare.

Baby turtles from hatchery of Timba-Timba Island

There is no restaurant on Timba-Timba. You can bring your own food or ask your travel agent to prepare lunch for you (usally buffet style). It would be perfect if we can order a margarita or other colourful drink, so we can take photos with it. No accommodation and resort on Timba-Timba so we only can do day trip there, but you can stay in Mataking Island or Pom-Pom Island nearby.

Tourists looking at release of baby turtles to the sea

The wide beach attracts some turtles to land and nest. The island has a turtle hatchery to hatch the eggs in a fenced area for protection, and they will release the baby turtles after they are hatched. We even saw some really big turtles foraging next to the jetty. They are so close that as if you can jump on their back and ride.

Baby turtle swimming in the sea
Sea turtle at the jetty of Timba-Timba Island

How to get there

To visit Timba-Timba Island (GPS Coordinates: 4.554087, 118.920967, see Location Map), first fly to Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu city (capital of Malaysia and Sabah State respectively), then take a direct flight from these cities to Tawau City in East Coast of Sabah by AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines. Then get a taxi from Tawau airport to go to Semporna town, which takes about an hour. From Semporna town, the boat to Timba-Timba Island takes about 45 minutes (for 36 Kilometres).

Sending off the baby turtle
Tourists on the beach chair of Timba-Timba Island
“Dreams are made of sun and sand.”

You can sign up for an island hopping tour (mostly day trip) that goes to Timba-Timba Island. Besides this island, usually such tour will bring you to a few islands such as Bohey Dulang and Kapalai. Any hotel / lodge in Semporna can tell you where to register this trip, or you can book in advance with online travel agent like sabahtravel.com.

Photos taken in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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