Tanjung Datu National Park’s combination of rainforest, wildlife and beaches makes it one of Sarawak’s most beautiful national parks. Previously the park was difficult (and expensive) to get to and received very few visitors. In short, it was Sarawak’s best kept secret. However, a new road from Sematan to Telok Melano opened in January 2019, making the park more accessible. Tanjung Datu has now started to attract more visitors.
This guide to Tanjung Datu covers the following:
Reasons To Go
- Beautiful rainforest scenery and good range of trails
- Some of the best beaches in Sarawak
- Good wildlife watching opportunities
- Chance of seeing green turtles
Tanjung Datu National Park comprises a narrow strip of forested hills and stunning beaches with clear emerald green waters. Located at the southwestern tip of Sarawak, Tanjung Datu is one of Sarawak’s smallest national parks but it is perhaps the most beautiful. A key attraction is its seclusion. The park’s remoteness means that the beaches are pristine and the rainforest intact.
Where The Rainforest Meets The Sea
Tanjung Datu’s narrow ridge of rugged hills is covered in mixed dipterocarp forest. The rich rainforest runs from the hills of the park’s interior to its pristine white sand beaches. It is one of the rare places in Borneo where the rainforest meets the sea. Tanjung Datu’s beaches are undoubtedly the best in Sarawak. The clear waters support a range of marine life and patches of coral grow close to the shore.
Huge granite boulders are scattered around the northern end of Telok Labuan Gading, the park’s main beach; and smaller beaches such as Tanjung Antu Laut. The rocky features, golden beaches and rainforest backdrop provide some stunning vistas.
Whilst the majority of the park is covered in mixed dipterocarp forest, there are patches of heath forest and some secondary forest close to the shore. The upper slopes of the park’s 542 m Gunung Melano are covered in ridge top forest. The rare Rafflesia flower also blooms on the slopes of Gunung Melano.
Diverse Wildlife – Turtles, Rare Primates & Hornbills
The park is home to a variety of wildlife include Bornean gibbons, pig-tailed and long-tailed macaque monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, civet cats, bearded pigs, monitor lizards, mouse deer, sambar deer and diverse birdlife. Hornbills are often sighted in the park, either flying over the park HQ or along the park’s trails.
Tanjung Datu is also home to one of the rarest primates in the world – the Bornean Banded Langur or Sarawak Langur.
This protected area is also an important turtle conservation site. Green Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles use the park’s beaches as nesting grounds. Whilst turtles come ashore to lay their eggs throughout the year the peak turtle nesting season is from April to September.
There is a small turtle hatchery on the main beach. When turtles lay eggs on the park’s beaches the park rangers retrieve the eggs, count them and then transfer the eggs to the hatchery so that they are protected from poachers and predators such as wild boar and monitor lizards.
The park has four walking trails that allow visitors to experience the rainforest and the stunning coastline. These include the Telok Melano Trail (3.7 km, 90 minutes one-way); Pasir Antu Laut Trail (2.7 km, one-way): Viewpoint Trail (500 m, 20 mins one-way); and the Belian Trail (2 km loop, 90 minutes).
Facilities at Tanjung Datu National Park are limited. Visitor accommodation consists of four rooms (2 beds & fan, shared bathrooms) in the ranger station building and four forest huts (camping shelters). There is no canteen but there are kitchens that visitors can use. There is also small visitor information centre.
Note: In May 2019 Sarawak Forestry decided to stop letting visitors use the rooms in the park HQ building. Existing bookings will be honored but no new bookings can be made. So the only accommodation currently available at the park is the forest huts. Visitors are also allowed to camp at the park HQ area.
How To Get There
Until recently Tanjung Datu could only be accessed by boat from the small coastal town of Sematan. However, a new road from Sematan to Telok Melano opened in late 2018. The village of Telok Melano now serves as the jumping off point from the park. Travellers can either trek to the park or take a boat from the village to the park HQ. If the sea is rough your boatman will stop at Telok Upas beach and not the park HQ. It takes 10 minutes to walk from Telok Upas to the park HQ. Tanjung Datu is not really accessible by boat during the monsoon months (Nov to Feb) owing to high seas.
Borneo Adventure was one of the first companies in Sarawak to run tours to Tanjung Datu. We have been running trips to park for over 10 years. Our guides know the jungle trails well and which places are good for wildlife watching. They also have good working relationship with the boatmen from neighbouring villages and the park rangers.
Video of Tanjung Datu National Park