East of the Santubong Peninsula, and no further away from Kuching, a second peninsula is occupied by the fabulous BAKO NATIONAL PARK, named for its location at the mouth of the Bako River. Sarawak’s oldest national park (once a timber reserve, it attained its present, fully protected status in 1957), it’s also among its most memorable. Its steep coastal cliffs, offering huge vistas over the South China Sea, are thrillingly different from the rest of the predominantly flat and muddy Sarawak coastline, and there are opportunities to spot proboscis monkeys, swim in jungle streams or at isolated sandy coves, and hike through terrain that takes in rainforest, mangrove and kerangas, with pitcher plants easily visible on some trails.
Bako is such a gem that trying to pack it all into one day is not ideal, though you can make a go of it if you set out early from Kuching and pay a boatman at the park to take you out to a remote beach, then walk back to the park headquarters; this gives you a good taste of the park without having to do a trek in both directions. A stay of at least one night is still preferable, though, and there’s a range of accommodation to choose from, some newly built.