Ok, all though I no longer live in Sarawak, recently I have been lucky and one of my work projects (in geology) happens to be conducted in Sarawak. So while this blog is currently not very active this gives me a rare chance to add something. Today I wanted to write about two sets of Islands off the cost of Sarawak. They have nice reefs and at some times of the year quite clear water too. So you don’t have to go as far as Miri or Sabah if you want to dive, you can actually do it from Kuching too.
So firstly where are the Islands? Quite close actually Satang Islands can easily be reached in an hour drive from Kuching via the jetty in Telaga Air. Getting across in a boat takes another 30 minutes. Talang islands can be reached from Sematan which is a longer 2 hour drive from Kuching and the boat ride there is also longer (about 45 minutes). Here is a map:
Out of the two islands the Satang Islands are far more accessible to tourists. Talang only allows volunteer visitors to it’s turtle rearing facilities which involves a lot of paperwork with Sarawak Forestry and very limited places. Satang islands also have the same possibility but apart from this normal divers and visitors to the island are allowed. Though a permit from the Sarawak forestry is still required it is much easier to get. The best time to go to the Islands is between April and September inclusive of the two months. Outside of that time the NE monsoon makes the water murky and the waves dangerous for crossings. The price for transport is normally about 200-300 RM for a boat of up to six people, for a day trip. Not including food etc, but there are some good sea food restaurants by the jetty in Telaga Air (though they do not open early).
Both sets of Islands have fairly steep and distinctly zoned reefs, with branching corals near the shot, giving way to Gonostrea and Porites as well as many other corals further out. Fishing is technically illegal, but local fishermen have exemptions for access so while there is a fair variety of small reef fish I did not observe a whole lot of big fish around. Though I did see a couple of sharks. The islands are home to turtle breeding stations and that is the main reason for the National park status and the main attraction for tourists to see. There are some companies in Kuching which organise trips to the Satang Islands so if you are interested ask around in the diving shops. It can take a week or so to arrange but you can do other things in that time and once organised it is a nice one full day trip. Not much else to say but here are a few pictures I took while working. Sometimes my work is really fun 😉
Ps: I would particularly advise locals from Kuching who enjoy diving to visit the site and get to know what Sarawak has to offer in terms of reefs and diving.