Santubong Wildlife Cruise: Everything You Need To Know

Published Categorized as Kuching
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Want an easy and enjoyable way to spot wildlife while staying in Kuching? Consider a Santubong Wildlife Cruise!

On these cruises, you sail along the Santubong River to the rivers and mangroves of the Santubong Peninsula, the mouth of the Salek Estuary and the Kuching Wetlands National Park just to the north and northwest of Kuching.

As you cruise along, your guide will look out for Irrawaddy dolphins, proboscis monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, crocodiles, long-tailed macaques, monitor lizards and a variety of birds. As the day darkens, there are fireflies to spot as well.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise
One of the other cruises – our boat looked the same

So what exactly happens on these tours? Are they worth your precious holiday time? What can you expect?

Below, I share my full Santubong Wildlife Cruise review from my experience on one of these cruises. Keep reading to learn it all!

Already know you want to do one? Click here to sign up to a great tour now.

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Santubong Wildlife Cruise Tours

To go on a Santubong Wildlife Cruise, you need to sign up for a tour.

These include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel and may include dinner as well. An English speaking guide is also included.

I recommend you do the same tour as I did. It’s a great price and easy to book. The price starts at RM185.

Click here to see the latest ticket prices and to make your booking.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise sunset
It was so beautiful on the boat at sunset

There are a couple of other tour companies, but we saw them throughout our tour so they all seem to offer the same.

Tours start with a pickup around 4pm and a drop off at your hotel around 9pm depending on your exact tour, what it includes and how many people are dropped off/picked up before you. The cruise itself went for about 2.5 hours.

I recommend you take mosquito repellent. I felt bugs around me as soon as I hopped on the boat but the repellent kept them away after I applied it.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise Review [2023]

I went on my cruise in August. Click here to see it. This is my experience.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise The van on our tour
The van on our tour

Pickups from the central Kuching area started from around 4pm. It took a little while to drive around and then it was a 45 minute drive to the cruise starting point in Kampung Santubong which is by the mouth of the Santubong River.

We drove past some spectacular buildings I hadn’t seen before in Kuching so keep a look out the window on your drive.

At the cruise starting point, there was a toilet and a vending machine. We were soon hopping on our boat. This required climbing over another boat, but it was straightforward.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise boat
Our boat

There were nine of us in our boat and the boat was a great size for this. At about 5:15pm, we headed off, zooming around the mouth of the Salek Estuary and looking for dolphins.

I have one complaint of this tour and it’s that the guide barely spoke. At this point, I didn’t know we were looking for dolphins or what was going on as he hadn’t spoken a word except to get on the boat! It was a shame, but the good news is that it didn’t really matter as we still saw wildlife.

It took maybe ten minutes to spot our first Irrawaddy Dolphins that this area is famous for. They were so awesome! We spent about 30 minutes watching them gliding through the water. Magical!

Santubong Wildlife Cruise Irrawaddy dolphin
Irrawaddy dolphin!

Our guide said that there is a 50/50 chance of spotting them in the evening with the morning cruises having a closer to 99% success rate. So I felt lucky!

We then headed to the mangrove lined rivers of the Kuching Wetlands National Park for more wildlife spotting. It’s a beautiful area and it’s seems a little weird how many big trees are growing out of the water.

I wouldn’t say we saw many animals, but we did see the one that people most love to see, the proboscis monkey. We found two playing in a tree and it was fantastic! I loved every moment.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise Proboscis monkeys
Proboscis monkeys!!!!

We also found macaques (a type of monkey).

Even without the animal spotting, it was a beautiful cruise as the sun set. The whole area was glowing and beautiful. We also went past a floating village which was quite scenic.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise Macaques
Macaques we spotted

As the sun finished setting, we stopped for dinner in the boat. They had our pre-ordered meals which everyone enjoyed. I picked chicken noodles which wasn’t the best choice for me as the chicken was very bony which is not how I like it, but it was still quite delicious.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise lunch

Even better was that our guide had some local fruit for us to try called crystal. It was delicious! Apparently, they are only available for a short time once a year. Definitely look for it if you are in Sarawak in August.

By now, it was quite a bit darker so we went looking for crocodiles and fireflies. The guide had a big flashlight he roamed over the river and surrounding trees.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise Spotting wildlife at night
Spotting wildlife at night

We didn’t see crocodiles which actually made me happy as those creatures scare me. But we did see fireflies!

The little fireflies were so cute buzzing around the mangroves. The guide did find his voice here and told us a bit about them. We also saw a sleeping monkey in a tree.

We didn’t get long here before boating back which was good really as it was getting darker and darker which I found a little scary when going fast on a boat. In saying that, they had a big light on the water, and I don’t think it was actually unsafe.

We got back to the cruise starting point about 7:45pm. They brought the boat ashore and then we were back in our van and headed back to our hotels.

It was a superb evening, and I highly recommend taking a Santubong Wildlife Cruise.

You can find it here.

Where Is Santubong Wildlife Cruise Kuching?

Santubong Wildlife Cruise map
Click the map above to open it in Google Maps.

These cruises start on the Santubong River (or Sungai Santubong in Malay). Boats depart from different places depending on your company. The map above shows where my tour departed from.

Since Santubong wildlife cruises are ran via tours that include hotel pick-up and drop-off, you don’t need to worry about getting here.

Cruises do no operate in rough seas or heavy rains.

Santubong Wildlife Cruise floating village
A village we passed

Final Words

A Santubong Wildlife Cruise is a fantastic way to see wildlife easily from Kuching. It’s also a very beautiful cruise with the sun setting.

I was super happy to get to see both Irrawaddy dolphins and proboscis monkeys. It was fantastic.

I wish our guide had spoken more and told us what was happening during the tour, but he was good at finding wildlife for us so that’s the main thing.

I highly recommend you try to fit a Santubong Wildlife Cruise into your Kuching itinerary.

Click here to book your tour now.

Looking for other things to do in Kuching? Find our guide here. You can also find our full guide to where to stay in Kuching here and our full travel guide to Kuching here.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.