Set under the spectacularly steep 810m peak of Gunung Santubong, the Santubong Peninsula is home to Sarawak's finest beach resorts and its famous Cultural Village and only 35 minutes drive from Kuching.
7th-14th Century - Santubong Era . According to the Encyclopedia of Iban Studies the original inhabitants of Santubong are Ibans the sea Dyak. Derived from the word Si-antu-ubong which means the spirit boat in the Iban language. Antu is hantu in Malay which means spirit or ghost. Santubong are boat like coffins made from a single hollow log designed to represent the vesell in which a dead person will travel from this world to afterlife. The name Santubong may also derived from "san choo bong" in the Hakka Chinese dialect, meaning wild pig king or king of wild pig.In the past,Santubong is an important port in the area .
15th-19th Century - Brunei Sultanate Era. Around the turn of the 17th Century, Sarawak had its first and only Sultan. The tenth Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar, had a younger sibling named Pengiran Muda Tengah Ibrahim Ali Omar Shah, better known as Raja Tengah. Since Sarawak was then owned and governed by Brunei, Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar appointed Pengiran Muda Tengah as the first (and last) Sultan of Sarawak, Sultan Tengah.
1841-1946 - Brooke Era
1941-1945 - Japanese Occupation
1946-1963 - Colonial Rule
1963-Today - Independence (Malaysia)
The famous myth of Santubong is the tale of jealousy and rage, which had a tragic ending.
The myth tells of two sisters who were princesses of Kayangan, the celestial kingdom, and were well-liked by the people as they assisted them in their disputes. The princesses, Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang were invited by the people to live among them, which they graciously did.
Princess Santubong, the more beautiful of the two, had many suitors, got married and subsequently became pregnant. This made Princess Sejinjang very jealous, and consequently, she began to claim that she was more beautiful than her sister. Santubong would not agree and a huge argument ensued between the two. In the end Sejinjang became violent and hit her pounding pestle on the head of Santubong, who fell to the earth and grew into the mountain that bears her name. However, just before Santubong fell she threw her weaving loom’s beam at Sejinjang, breaking a part of her body, which scattered into the sea, creating the islands in the area (Pulau Kera, Pulau Burong, Satang/Talang-talang and so on). Meanwhile, the rest of Sejinjang’s body also fell to the earth and became the other mountain near Mount Santubong.
That is why the profile of Gunung or Mount Santubong looks like a lady lying on the horizon if viewed from various angles from the South China Sea.
Local people are mostly Muslim Malay living in a traditional Kampung.
By shuttle van
Minivans head to Santubong regularly from the market in Kuching, leaving when full.You can also have the place you are staying on the peninsula send one to Kuching for you by arrangement. The minivan can be hard to find.
Update June 2018: there is no longer any public bus service to Santubong- confirmed by a bus company and my homestay host as well as the taxi driver. I paid 60 MR from central Kuching, and will probably ask my homestay host to drive me back to the airport at the end of my stay.
Regular tour buses leave from most of the major hotels in Kuching. Fees are RM 12 p.p. one way, RM 24 for return. Beware that the schedule found on the Visitor"s Information Centre's map may be outdated. The shuttle from Grand Margherita Hotels leaves for Damai at 9:15, 10:20, 12:20 and 2:20. It returns from Damai to Kuching at 1:15, 3:15 and 5:15.
The peninsula is very rural and less developed outside of the resorts. Which is a challenge on several fronts: the main attractions out of walking distance and none of them are next to one another. The best way to get around is to take shuttles from your accommodation. Most are Rm 5 per person.
You can use a bicycle or a motorbike too, but you don't see many on the road here.
The Santubong area is one of the best places in Sarawak to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, which inhabits rivers, estuaries and shallow coastal areas. On rare occasions finless porpoises and Indo-pacific humpback dolphins are sighted in the waters off Santubong. Among other things are the coastal villages (kampungs) in such as Kampung Santubong, a well-kept Malay village at the foot of Mount Santubong.
Contact any local tour operator to witness yourself a superb natural attractions centred on the rainforested slopes of Mount Santubong, its mangrove forests, rivers, near shore waters and mudflats. These different habitats are home to variety of wildlife making Santubong one of the best sites in Sarawak to see a range of wildlife in a natural setting.
Damai Central has a local food court that serves local Sarawakian food like Kolo Mee, Nasi Lemak, Chicken Rice, Fried Rice and Noodles, Basic Western Food and Drinks. The food court is halal and open from 9.00 am till 8.00 pm and during the Rainforest World Music Festival, the food court will be open early till late. Prices are very reasonable, same as prices in Kuching,but during the festival, the prices may increase a little, but still affordable. There is also a 7-11 at Damai Central while there is one bar and cafe that serves alcohol and some food.