Pulau Kapas (Kapas Island) is a hidden gem, a quiet tropical paradise in the east coast of Malaysia. Beautiful beaches, relaxing and not crowded. A great alternative to the famous Perhentian islands.
Every taxi in town seemed to know that I was standing next to the bridge waiting for the bus.
– Where do you go?
– Kuala Terengganu.
– I can take you there for 60 ringgit. Usual price is 100, special price for you.
– No, thank you.
– I can take you to Terengganu for 30 ringgits.
– No thanks, the bus costs 15.
– 20 ringgits. I am from Terengganu and have to go back anyway. We can leave now, or you can wait for the bus, but you do not know when the bus comes.
That was true, I had no idea if I would have to wait 5 minutes or 2 hours. I hesitated. 20 ringgits was a very good price for a 2h taxi drive, but I felt more comfortable traveling by bus, with more people around, than alone in a taxi.
– I am an official taxi driver, you can see my license.
I felt embarrassed, could he read my mind?
– Oh ok, I’m coming. Thank you.
I told him that I was meeting a Malaysian friend in Terengganu. If I disappear, a local will know, was my hidden message. There was no need for such precautions, though, he was an honest person and dropped me at Terengganu even before my friend was there.
And yes, that was true, I was meeting a local friend there. We met in the hostel where I was staying in Georgetown. We both knew the owner from couchsurfing and were asked to take care of the hostel one day that he needed to visit his family. There was not much to do, actually, and apart from receiving a new guest we spent the day in the reception just talking. We became friends and kept contact, and we were now meeting in Terengganu to go to Pulau Kapas, a less touristic tropical island.
Beautiful in the day
In Kota Bharu, on my way to Perhentian, I was told that after visiting the Perhentian islands I would not like Kapas island. But, since I always like to see things by myself, I went anyway. I had heard about Pulau Kapas from a couchsurfing member I met in Kuala Lumpur, and she told me she preferred Kapas because it is less touristic and less crowded.
And I was not disappointed. Kapas island was as beautiful as the better known Perhentians, and indeed less crowded, specially that early in the season. Only a couple of restaurants were open which was a good sign.
In the island there are no cars, motorbikes nor bicycles… not even streets. But it is very easy to walk from one beach to another, there are small pathways and stairs to go around. There are also a couple of treks through the jungle to cross to the other side of the island. We attempted one of them but had to go back after 10 meters… because of the mosquitos! They all came to me, they did not bother my local friend (I guess they preferred to try new international food?). So we forgot about the jungle and went back to the paradisiacal beaches (so sad about it!).
Another nice thing about Kapas is that we could do snorkeling without paying for a boat tour. Our guesthouse provided masks for free, and you could just walk around the island and find nice spots. We found a place at the end of a beach where there were some corals and colorful fish. That said, it is true that the corals in the Perhentian islands are much better (apparently, because the Perhentians are farther from the mainland).
Amazing in the evening
Kapas island was beautiful during the day, and became amazing in the evenings, the sunsets were spectacular!
Magic at night
At night all went quiet. There was no noise, no cars, no loud music. I love silence, specially when it comes with the soft come-and-go of the waves. It is so relaxing. So magical.
With just a few people and accommodation options, there was also little light, so a good place to see the stars. I was there on full moon, I cannot imagine how many stars you can see in a new moon day. Must be even more magical!
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