Similajau National Park, Bintulu, Sarawak

Similajau in Bintulu was gazetted as a National Park in 1976. The park has beautiful white and golden sandy beaches with 7,064 hectares of virgin forest, untouched by modernization. The rich flora and fauna at the park had made it a popular destination.

Similajau is home for 24 species of mammals including gibbons, mouse deer, wild boar, porcupine, long-tailed macaques, civet cats and many others. Here, you can find two crocodile species, which are estuarine or saltwater crocodile and the harmless false gharial. The former feeds on small mammals, lizard, fish and water birds, while the latter feeds exclusively in fish. There are several warning signs placed at the park, so visitors are advised to avoid wading into larger streams but to use the bridge provided instead.

For crocodile viewing, the park HQ can arrange boat trips for visitors as crocodiles are more easily spotted at night.

There is one unique creature called belangkas (horseshoe crab) that is commonly seen at the beach. It is said to be the descendant of the trilobites that populated the sea about 400 million years ago.

Green turtles are sighted occasionally during nesting season to lay their eggs at Golden Beach and Turtle Beaches. Sometimes, there are also hawksbill and leatherback turtles sighted. As all sea turtles are protected animals, anybody who had been found guilty of tampering the nest will be fined and/or face jail sentence.

If you are lucky, you might find some dolphins swimming close to shore. For a better look at dolphins, you can take a boat trip along the coastline. The frequently sighted dolphins are Irrawaddy dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Indo-pacific humpback dolphin, finless porpoise dolphin and pantropic spotted dolphin. If you would like to see them for yourself, you better visit between March and September.

There are also various treks and trails for adventure seekers. They can walk through the main trekking trail which follows the coastline. There are many side treks off the main trail. Visitors can spot the trails easily as there are red paint markings on the trees.

Visitors have two choices after they crossed the suspension bridge to Sg. Likas. They may follow the plankwalk, or take a short cut by turning left at the beginning of the plank walk. Both trails will take you to Viewpoint. There, you can find a shelter with picnic table overlooking the beach and Park HQ.

From Viewpoint, you can trek through the main trail that leads to the coast. After trekking for about an hour via Viewpoint Trail, you will find a trail just before Sungei Kanyau which leads to Selunsur Rapids.

Following the main trail, visitors will find the beaches which are two turtle beaches and Golden Beach. You can take a dip in the emerald green water, or just enjoying the walk along the golden sandy beach.

To enjoy Similajau to the fullest, you can hire a boat, which the wardens at the park HQ can assist you. Boats are hired based on hourly, half day and full day for coastal and river tours, or for crocodile spotting at night. You can ask the boat driver to drop you off at the beach and be picked up at a pre-arranged time. Another way is take a boat from Park HQ to any beaches (Golden Beach or Turtle Beaches) then trek back along the main trail on your own.

There are some accommodations available at reasonable price. You can book direct at the Park Office or through visitor’s information centres in Miri or Kuching.

To get there, you can drive your own car or hire a taxi service from Bintulu town at about RM50 per trip or from Bintulu airport at about RM70 per trip. There are also public bus services available that will pass by the road to Similajau Park. This bus is labelled Sungai Plant Lot. However, you need to take another transport or walk on foot to cover the 9km distance from the main road to the park. The fastest way to reach the park is by boat from Bintulu town, available for RM200 per trip.

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