• Snorkelling • Other Activities • Stay •
Eats • Caution • Drawbacks •
Kapas Island or Pulau
Kapas is an island 6 kilometers off the coast of Terengganu. Pulau Kapas
is a small island, just over 2km long and 1km at its widest point, is
just 4 nautical miles from Marang. The Island is an ideal place to break
away and chill it out. Pulau Kapas has numerous deserted, white sandy
beaches lined with shady palm trees to make a perfect niche to laze on.
Offering a refreshing change from everyday haste, the place is so
serenely beautiful and it's the kind of serenity that leaves one with a
longing to return. Relaxation is the foremost occupation here.
How did Pulau Kapas get its name? After all, kapas means cotton in
Malay. The origin however, is far from it. The island was believed to be
"bisa" (deadly!). Every one who landed on the island would fall sick.
When they returned on the mainland they would die and as uslims, their
bodies would be wrapped with kain kapan that is piece of white cloth.
With many dead bodies, there would be many kain kapan, hence the island
was associated with kain kapan. Over time, this eventually became "kapas".
Tucked in a secluded side of a beach is little hill with a little
lighthouse perched on top that offers a spectacular bird's eye view of
the island and the Terengganu coastline. Batu Tenggara, Harmony Beach
and Batu Berhala are part of the island's Long Beach. Beyond it, are
Batu Payung, Safari Beach and Derdak Beach, altogether spanning some
Snorkelling in Kapas
The reefs hosts an abundance of beautiful coral inhabitants such as the
parrotfish, pufferfish, angelfish, damselfish; eels; giant clams; rays,
sea urchins, sea cucumbers and nudibranchs. This is the place to really
indulge in snorkelling. There is a wonderful snorkelling spot around the
rocky outcrops just to the southern end of the long stretch of beach.
The water here is shallow and it is best to wear a lifejacket.
In some places the water level at low tide may only be as shallow as 2
feet. There is just so much to see around that snorkellers often lose
track of direction and may get trapped in the shallow ends. When this
happens, they often panic and start trashing about and usually try to
stand up in the process. This is dangerous as the seabed is covered with
extremely sharp corals and can cause deep wounds. The other danger to
look out for are the sea urchins hiding in and around the corals. Across
Safari Beach and
five minutes by speed boat lies the secluded Pulau Gemia or Gem Island.
The sea in between is home to stunning coral gardens and other marine
life. The spot is a haven for snorkelling and diving.
For the advanced snorkellers, a night dip in the coral gardens is a
delight especially on when the moon is full. The entire scene transforms
itself and introduces a host of nocturnal marine life that are rarely
seen during the day. The corals extend their feeders out in full bloom
to capture tiny plankton washed in from the open sea, the nudibranchs
leave their hiding place to feed on the coral polyps and squirrel fishes
come out to play.
For landlubbers, there is a rough track through the middle of the island
and towards the eastern side. Trekking for about 45 minutes through
untamed jungle will take one to the uninhabited side of the island where
mere human presence is a definite intrusion to the unspoilt nature and
to the many birds that have claimed the area as their own sanctuary. If
that's not your cup of tea, it is possible to hire canoes for exploring
the more secluded shores and beaches towards the northern tip of the
island. The waters two nautical miles from the island coast are part of
protected marine parks of Terengganu.
Stay-in Kapas Island
There is no village on Pulau Kapas, only chalets. During the monsoons,
the island is deserted. Since it is so close - only 6km from the
mainland, visitors seldom stay overnight. For those who prefer to spend
a longer time on the island, places to stay here ranges from camping
sites to dormitory to island chalet resorts. Electricity are available
from 6pm until 6-7am only.
But if you are the type who cannot do without air-conditioning, TV,
telephone, fridge and all the modern trappings and luxurious comfort in
a holiday resort, then it is not for you. Neither is it for those
looking for fine cuisine, karaoke, slot-machine games and the like.
Relaxation is the foremost occupation here and it offers a refreshing
change from everyday haste.
There are about seven chalets and a camp site on the island. Because of
its proximity to the mainland, Pulau Kapas and its surrounding waters
are said to be not as pristine as those around far away islands. This
has its blessings though. Most resorts here provide satisfactory
amenities and service and are mainly clustered together on two strips of
white sandy beaches facing the mainland, whereas the rest of the island
is largely forested harbouring lots of small mammals, birds, insects and
Kapas Island Resort is near the jetty and is the biggest and most
luxurious resort. It has a small swimming pool. The resort has its own
boat service to collect you from the mainland. Tuty Puri, is another
luxury place with arguably the most of charm. It has standard rooms with
a fan and the rooms have a shower. Also a Dorm. The hotel was built in
1993 and it is set on the prime beach in front of the beautiful
white-sands of Pulau Kapas.
Beauty island Resort has bungalows with fan and shower. Also a dorm.
Light House is more for the backpackers. It has a the relative isolation
on a nice section of beach. Big wooden rooms. Zaki Beach Chalet is a
medium sized resort. Good food. What you may not like : the limited
space, whether in the resort or the rooms. Mak Cik Gemuk a big resort.
Off the beach and without charm. Rooms for up to three peoples. Kapas
Garden Resort. A-Frame huts without fan but they have a shower. The
Dutch owner has a relaxed bar. It's a small place usually busy with
The only item that sometimes may seemed over priced are the food. Be
sure that all menu has price listed before ordering. Just north of the
pier, a couple of small restaurants serves the cheapest basic dishes of
the island : Nasi or Mee Goreng. The first one gives good portions and
sell big bottle of mineral water. One of the best local eating place on
this island is at Zaki's.
Be sure that any valuables is locked in the room or better still be
carried along where ever you go. Local islanders is always helpful and
on the watch for these trouble makers. nyone caught on any unlawful acts
will be deal with accordingly. However, they did not guarantee that your
belonging will not be stolen. Mosquito can be a serious nuisance at dusk
and dawn. Most resorts have mosquito net but for the outdoors, bring
For new snorkellers, bring along a lifejacket and a pair of fins and
never, never step on corals. Fire coral is another thing to look out
for. If brushed against, it causes a searing pain as if brushing against
a burning cinder. This is another reason why it is always advisable that
snorkellers should never touch corals and fishes for as pretty and
helpless as they seem, they often have powerful defence mechanisms
Pulau Kapas is a mere 10 minutes by speed boat or 30 minutes by slow
boat from Marang jetty. Marang is about 20 minutes by road from Kuala
After more than a decade of inhabitants, the infrastructure has yet to
be developed on the island and piped water can be a problem especially
during dry seasons when the fresh water level drops.
There are simply too many operators on the stretch of beach and many of
them do not have proper sewage systems. This means that much of the
sewage is directed into the sea. This pollution in turn is slowly
killing the corals. Rubbish left on the island by day trippers is a
sight. Although there seems to be much discontentment voiced by some of
the operators of resorts on the island about the condition of their
beaches and the little help that they receive from the government on
such matters, there also seems to be not much done to arrest the issue
of piling rubbish from these operators themselves.
Boat operators are also helping to kill off the corals by smashing them
up as they manoeuvre their boats to shore specifically on the more
remote beaches on Pulau Kapas. Their ignorance is indeed astounding for
when questioned about their actions, most often than not the answer is
derived from sheer ignorance that corals will and can sprout as easily
as land plants!
A suggestion was highlighted by a concerned resort owner recently to
resolve this matter of anchor damage - that is to provide mooring buoys.
With such misconduct and ignorance, in a matter of 5 to 10 years the
beauty and lure of Pulau Kapas will only be a memory.
The smaller Pulau Gemia or Gem Island, located just 800 metres north off
Kapas Island, is another island resort with white sandy beaches, crystal
clear water, beautiful corals and fascinating marine life.
Diving in Kapas & Gemia
Includes the islands of Kapas and Gemia, the key attraction is the World
War II shipwreck land a 60-year-old Japanese landing craft wreck sits
upright. Frequent encounters with whale sharks at this site.
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