Searching for that perfect weekend getaway? Perhaps something a little quieter than tourist hotspots like Langkawi and Perhentians? Look no further than Pangkor Island, located off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Perak, just 90km from Ipoh. It has everything you want for an island escape — and so much more — with sleepy fishing villages, relaxed atmosphere and amazing views. Here’s our Top 5 for Pangkor Island.
- Perfect Location
Unlike other beach destinations in Malaysia, Pangkor Island is quite easy to get to. You can drive or catch a bus from Kuala Lumpur to the ferry port at Lumut. The ferry from Lumut to Pangkor take 35 minutes and operates 7am to 8.30pm daily. Pangkor also has an airport, with Berjaya Air flying there three times a week. Once on the island, the best mode of transport is by scooter. Renting a scooter is relatively cheap, and will allow to you to cover most within 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can hail one of the island’s famed pink taxis.
2. Beaches and water sports
Pangkor is just 8 square kilometres, but you’ll be surprised how much you can do, and what you can see. Of course, sun baking on the beach is the most popular pastime for visitors, with Nipah and Coral beach often dotted with holiday makers. There are also two small islands nearby — Giam and Mentagor — that are perfect for snorkelling with an array of coral, sea cucumbers and other sea life to be found. If you’re more adventurous, grab a kayak and circumnavigate the islands. Pasir Bogak is another famous beach, just 2km from Pangkor Town and it is the best place for jet skiing and parasailing.
With a thriving local fishing scene, it’s no coincidence that the choice of seafood is amazing. The main catch is cuttlefish and anchovies. Selling dried fish is still an important part of the economy, with locals often transporting large bags of dried anchovies from the port, to the mainland and to the markets. You’ll most likely experience a taste of these anchovies at breakfast with your nasi lemak. At evening, head to the many beachside restaurants and order ikan bakar or grilled fish. What more could you want to end your day. Oh, and it’s cheap, too.
- Explore by foot
If, for some reason, you are allergic to the ocean, there’s also plenty to do on land. There’s an uphill trek across the island with great vantage points of the local wildlife, particularly the hornbill. You can even feed these gracious birds every day at 6.30pm at Sunset View Chalet. Its owner Nordin Bakar has been feeding the island’s population of hornbills for the past 12 years. For nature lovers and hikers, also check out the jungle trails at Teluk Segadas Hill and Titi Ganung.
Pangkor Island has some must-see historical landmarks, too. The island has always been a trading enclave in the state of Perak. The vestiges of history can be traced in the Dutch Fort built in the 17th century. The reason behind its construction was to monopolise the tin trade in Perak and protect the Perak Chieftan.
- Relax and indulge
Pangkor Laut provides the ultimate luxurious experience. This private island is next to the bigger and busier Pangkor Island. The resort includes 140 villas and suites and has 300 acres of rainforest as a playground. If you feel like splurging, you can stay in the huge Pavarotti Suite. The tenor sang at the launch of the resort in 1994 and said the island was “paradise”. Other celebrities who have stayed here include Michael Schumacher, Eric Cantona and Michelle Yeoh. The resort will also organise your transport to and from the island. More information: http://www.pangkorlautresort.com/
Cover image: Pulau Pangkor and its many islands