Nature Tawau Hills National Park

Where is it?

Tawau Hills National Park

The Tawau Hills National Park was gazetted in 1979 and comprises 27,972 ha. Located 24 Km from Tawau town, this area is accessible by road and the Park Head Quarters are located at the entrance of the park. The highest point of the park at 1310 m is Gunung Madalena. The park offers picnic areas, a vast camping site, and chalets, and is very popular with Tawau local residents on weekends.

The park was gazetted as a protection for water catchment for the people of Tawau town and the Semporna peninsula. The Tawau River flows through the park, fed by abundant rainfall throughout the year. The rivers in the park tumble over several attractive waterfalls, and the Table Waterfall has created a natural swimming pool. Shelters, toilets and changing rooms are near the Table Waterfall. Beware if you wish to swim beneath the waterfall as the pool is quite deep. A trail leads further into the forest to a calm Hot Spring, past more spectacular waterfalls, but you need to count three hours of trekking. Bombalai Hill (530m) is only about a half-an-hour jungle walk. From the hill you have a panoramic view of cacao and palm oil plantations, Tawau town and at the horizon the Sulawesi Sea!

The Park comprises rugged volcanic landscapes. Bombalai Hill is a relatively young volcanic cone and the remains of the central crater, which can still be seen on the summit. Vegetation to see are the lowland Dipterocarp forest. Flora and fauna, such as orchids are in abundance. Wildlife is common but luck and patience is needed, as animals are shy and are not easy to see. Occasional sitings of of Red Leaf Monkeys and long-tailed Macaques, and the less common but the beautiful Giant Tree Squirrel, and the Forest Tortoise. The terrain is hilly with two prime elevations - Gunung Magdalena ( 1310 metres) and Gunung Lucia ( 1201 metres). Bombalai Hill (530 metres) is a major landmark.


Highest tropical rainforest tree in the world


In 2006, American scientist Dr Roman Dial and two friends climbed up a 'Seraya Kuning Siput' (Shorea faquetiana) at Tawau Hills Park The trio risked life and limb in order to find out the accurate measurement of this tree, a tropical rainforest plant, located in the forest reserve of some 28,000 hectares. After placing the end of the measuring tape at the tip of the highest point on the tree, Dr Dial, a professor in Biologi and Mathematic of Alaska Pacific University, finally recorded the tree's height at 88.32 meters.


That measurement made the Seraya Kuning Siput in Tawau Hills Park the highest tropical rainforest tree in the world.  After recording the tree's height, Dr Dial and his team then moved on to look for trees of other species in the park. In two square km there, they found seven more that measured more than 80 meters in height. 


The discovery by Dr Dial and his team was recorded in the National Geographic magazine, July 2006 edition.


Attraction Points

  • Nature
  • Jungle Trek
  • Table Waterfall
  • Tallest Tropical Tree