Malaysian diver discovers Miri's underwater treasures

One of the reader’s favourite sea creatures in Miri is the ‘Christmas tree worm’. — Photos: JAYA MARY ASIRVATHAM

Miri, Sarawak, is rarely heard of as a diving destination. When I told my friends that I was going for a diving holiday in Miri, they were surprised.

“Is there actually a place to dive in Miri?”

Actually, Miri is a pretty popular destination for divers. However, many tourists to the town are oblivious of its underwater riches. It has plenty of natural coral reefs, offering clear visibility and a depth of up to 30m, on average.

I spent three days diving there during the month of May and every dive site had its own beauty. The sites were Siwa, Fantasy, Sunday, Kenyalang, Batu Belais, Nemo “city”, Santak and Barracuda point.

In my first dive, I saw a beautiful creature – a lion fish with its striking red, white and black spiky fins. It’s called lionfish as its spines and fins resemble the mane of a lion. It’s a stunning species indeed, and it looks calm when approached yet they belong to a genus of venomous marine fish. This species was spotted in all the dive sites.

A barrel coral.A barrel coral.

My favourite was the worms which are commonly known as “Christmas tree worm” because of their fir tree-like appearance. They come in diverse colours approximately 4cm in length. They become very shy when approached, and swiftly withdraw themselves, hiding in their tubes.

Apart from that, you can also see plenty of giant groupers, nudibranch, flat worms, red anemones, sea fans and barracudas when you dive there.

A trip to Miri is not complete if you don’t visit the caves. The Niah National Park is two hours’ drive from the town, and this is where you will find the Niah Great Cave. From the visitor centre or headquarters, you will first need to cross the Niah River with a boat before getting on the boardwalk. This walkway stretches about 3.5km and leads to the mouth of the cave.

At the Niah National Park, you can find the Niah Great Cave and many other caves.At the Niah National Park, you can find the Niah Great Cave and many other caves.

The Niah Great Cave is famous for many things, one of which relates to prehistoric findings. It is also one of the biggest caves in South-East Asia, and a place where the local Penan tribesmen collect edible birds’ nest, which are in abundance in Niah.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to cover the full Niah cave tour and I missed seeing the prehistoric wall drawings.

With the excellent diving, Niah National Park and delicious local cuisine, Miri is a wonderful place to go for a holiday.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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