Also officially, Lundu: Bandar Pantai Semulajadi. Which is warranted, considering within the southwest: Tanjung Datu-Sematan-Lundu, has the best beaches. While not the white sands of our neighbours (we are a mostly swampy mangrove coast), the stretches that are sandy is shallow, warm, tan grey sand with long coastlines. Certain times of the year, the seawater is crystal, shimmering like liquid glass under tropical blue skies, with casuarina and coconut trees swaying nearby.
While not the cleanest beach, I do always enjoy a visit to Sematan. There used to be many mini resorts and B&Bs, mostly chalets. But after last year’s lockdown, 2 of them has closed down. We encountered some sea butterflies, apparently a sharp, prickly, almost invisible thing that’s not harmful (the internet said so) while swimming. They’re like have bamboo needles stuck in your clothes. Unpleasant, although the next day it disappeared.
This trip, we stayed at Sematan Palm Beach Resort. We stayed in the Terrace Twin overlooking the individual chalets below. A decent accommodation, with basic amenities. The chalets looked nicer but fully booked over that weekend. The booking came with breakfast and dinner, which is also decent (for local tastebuds). They even have a functioning bar with cocktails and pizzas. Although I’m pretty sure the cocktails are spiked with cheap liquors from the taste. The staff as a whole are very friendly and warm. The beach in front of the resort has the typical beach swing and a playground set for the kids. In the mornings and sometimes at night, local fishermen can be seen taking home their catch or putting in the nets before the tides come in.
I’m not one to sit back and chill all the time, even on beach vacation, so I did what I always do, explore. I walked up the coast till Kampung Siru Melayu, and that’s where I passed the Roxy Beach Resort, a new planned mega resort. Probably bigger than any development that was ever done in the area and definitely tapping into the connections from the ever-unfinished Pan Borneo Highway.
I do wonder if big resorts are a good thing. Once, I did imagine Sematan-Lundu to be a more vibrant beach getaway, I was thinking more along the lines of smaller scale boutique accommodations that won’t overly impact the environment. Even today, local fishermen still use the coast for their fishing activities. Will the opening of Roxy mean that other bigger and more international brands put their foot in? Will Sematan turn into another Batu Feringghi (Penang)?
Even Telok Serabang, newly connected to the main highway grid has a Roxy resort. Funny, I always remembered Roxy as the cinema when I was kid and now they’ve bloomed into a supermarket plus hotel/resort chain.
But meh, the beach in front of Roxy isn’t a nice as the Palm Beach-Abang Amin stretch.