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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Life in SE ASIA a Daily Magazine says
Reblogged this on Life SE ASIA MAGAZINE .
Wow! You got me jealous with both perhentials and Kapas islands! As an adventurer and a diver I am!
BTW: I have left you a website where, if you have the time, you can see a little adventure we start from 2nd May. We will be followed by GPS in real time. It is also in Facebook with the same name.
Good next stop Laia!
Wow, 500km by bicycle! I would not be able to do that, I’m not in such good physical condition. Great initiative, wish you the best for the trip!
SJ @ Chasing the Donkey says
You had me at less tourists, I am sold by the views. WOWZERS! Thanks for joining us for Sunday Traveler.
The views were spectacular, well worth a visit! Thanks for organising Sunday Traveller, have a good week 🙂
Ruth - Tanama Tales says
Wow! I don’t know why people said you would not like the island. Glad to hear you didn’t listen to their advice and visited anyway.
I don’t know either, Kapas was as beautiful as Perhentian, only the snorkeling was not as good (but it was cheaper). I’m happy I went 🙂
Those sunsets were worth the trip if nothing else 🙂
Yes, only for the sunsets it would be worth 🙂
Bek Dawson says
Hi, can you recommend the guest house you were staying at?
We were also wondering a rough idea of food prices on the island, as we are on a tight budget.
Thanks, Bek 🙂
I stayed at Kapas Beach Chalet, it cost 50RM per night for a double room with private bathroom, and they provide free snorkels.
For what I can remember the food on the island was a bit more expensive than in other parts of Malaysia. According to my expenses sheet I paid between 8-16RM for a lunch/dinner in the restaurants. I don’t think there was any shop to buy food and cook.
I was there at the beginning of March, it was still low season so most accommodation options and restaurants were closed. If you go during high season there will be more to chose, but I don’t know if that will make prices higher or lower.
Hope it helps 🙂
Have a nice trip!
Hey! I was there in May/2016 during the new moon days, you must see the luminous plankton at night!. Kapas is the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen, so far.
Cheers from Argentina.
Sorry about my late reply. I didn’t know there was luminous plankton at Kapas island, this is so cool! I did see luminous plankton in Penang island and it is an incredible experience 🙂
Cheers from Malaysia!
Thank you for your amazing post! I do have a couple of questions though.
Did you book your room in advance or did you just arrive and then check it out?
How was the weather like in March? Did it still sometimes rain? And how was the beach chalet that you stayed at? My family and I were thinking of visiting but we’re choosing between Kapas Island and Rawa Island.
I did not book in advance, we just searched when we arrived. It was the beginning of season so it was very quiet and easy to find.
The room was a double room with private bathroom. No A/C and no hot water. It was simple but clean and comfortable.
About the weather, I was there only a few days and it didn’t rain any day. That was in 2015, no idea it is it common.
Hope you have a great stay 🙂
Wow, thanks for the review. very helpful. Could you also add the place where you generally stayed . That would be helpful
Hi Tejas, sorry about the late reply.
As I mentioned in a previous comment I stayed at Kapas Beach Chalet, it cost 50RM per night for a double room with private bathroom (no A/C) and they provide free snorkels. That was in March 2015.
Have agreat trip!