A grassy north–south promenade lines the waterfront, where a concrete pier affords wonderful views of the mouth of the river, its sandbanks and the very blue, very clear South China Sea. The deserted beaches of Teluk Pugu, a narrow spit of land across the mouth of the Sematan River from Sematan’s jetty, can be reached by boat (around RM40 return).

At the northern end of the row of stores facing the waterfront, check out the shop called Teck Hunt (the furthest west of the waterfront stores), which hasn’t changed in over a century. Built of belian (ironwood), it still has wooden shutters instead of windows.

The sands of shallow Pantai Sematan, clean and lined with coconut palms, stretch along the coast northwest of town. The beach is home to several resorts that fill up with Kuchingites at the weekends.