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Tidal Bore Festival: Where Nature and Culture Meet

Adapted from "Tidal Bore Festival: Where Nature and Culture Meet"

New Straits Times, January 17, 2024

Written by NST Hyperlocal

Sarawak, known for its rich cultural tapestry, is home to the Pesta Benak or Tidal Bore Festival — a captivating celebration that harmonises nature's wonders with the thrill of water-based activities. Nestled along the scenic Batang Lupar River in Sri Aman, this iconic event has become a hallmark of Sarawak's vibrant festival calendar.

At the heart of the Pesta Benak is the natural spectacle of a tidal bore — a phenomenon where water surges up the Batang Lupar River. During spring tides, the bore surges up at 18 kilometres per hour, generating awe-inspiring waves reaching heights of up to three metres. This unique occurrence, originating from Seduku Island in the upper part of Lingga, 44.6 kilometres from the estuary and 34.5 kilometres from Simanggang town, creates the perfect setting for surfing enthusiasts to ride the waves.

Over the years, the festival has drawn surfers from near and far, eager to showcase their skills against the mesmerising backdrop of the tidal bore. Stand-up paddling and surfing have not only become thrilling spectacles for onlookers but also daily routines for locals who find joy in catching the waves during the tidal bore's bi-daily occurrences.


Locals and tourists alike partake in surfing and stand-up paddling activities. - Photo from


The Pesta Benak is not just about water-based adventures; it's a holistic celebration that embraces various cultural and entertaining elements. Amidst the waves, visitors can experience the crowning of Miss Tourism Benak and Ratu Kebaya Benak, adding a touch of glamour to the festival. Singing competitions and food bazaars further enrich the festive experience, offering a delightful blend of entertainment and culinary delights.

Situated along the banks of the Batang Lupar River in Sri Aman, the festival provides spectators with prime views from purpose-built lookout stands. Here, onlookers can marvel at the tidal bore's majestic arrival and the surfers conquering its waves. Below the stands, a picture gallery showcases the best moments of the tidal bore, capturing the essence of this natural spectacle.


The Tidal Bore Festival has become a hallmark of Sarawak's vibrant festival calendar. — Photo from Sarawak Tourism Board


Beyond the thrilling displays and cultural festivities, the Pesta Benak holds a deeper purpose — to promote harmony among the local community and introduce Sri Aman town as a tourism destination; a three-hour drive from both Kuching and Sibu. The festival serves as a bridge between nature's wonders and the cultural richness of Sarawak, providing a platform for locals and visitors alike to connect with the region's unique heritage.

As the tidal bore continues its journey inland, spanning another 30 kilometres and culminating near the village of Engkilili in Sri Aman, the Pesta Benak stands as a symbol of Sarawak's commitment to preserving its natural wonders while showcasing them to the world. Don't miss out on this mesmerising fusion of nature and culture — a festival that captures the essence of Sarawak's allure.

Pesta Benak is held annually, usually in October. Get in touch with us to arrange a trip to experience Pesta Benak.
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