The East Coast of Malaysia


Global Mark : 13.72

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Market Relax Fiesta 


4 5 1 1 1 5 2 1 10.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
9 100% 89% (8) 100%  14 to 18 17.44

Description :
A tiny tropical spot in a crystal clear water surrounding.

Comments : Kapas has somehow become the refuge of those who refuse or could not join the Perhentian' crowd. For the time being, few are disappointed by what they find...

What to do ? Get in touch with the great white sand powder / Admire the transparent water / Spot millions of fish right from the pier / Snorkel or scuba dive / Spot big colorful fishes and, if lucky and in season, a turtle / Canoe around the island (R5 per hour) / Play volleyball / Scare big monitor lizards (including, if lucky, real massive ones) / Listen to tropical birds / Walk the untouched jungle / At night, watch bats picking up fruits in the trees / Dream at the sunset, then at the stars / 

What you may not like ? The relative development on the only two beaches / Showing up in the very high season (holidays) as the place is above all a favorite with local peoples / Some jellyfish some days / The limited snorkeling points / Not always having good visibility / The not so colorful corals / The lack of electricity during the day (except luxury places) and the generators noise during the night (except luxury places, all day long) / The very aggressive mosquitoes / The inflated cost of food & drink plus the limited choice / The probable future development / 

How long ? How long can you endure the relative taste of paradise ? Actually, the island is small enough to be enjoyed in one day, possibly also as a day trip from Marang.

Where to stay ? Seven places to choose from on two beaches, all w. mosquito nets and within walking distance of the pier. Whatever the place, always ask where the generator & water pump are located. You are on a tropical island after all...

- South of the pier : the longest & nicest beach :

  • Kapa Island Resort (09 6263501), opp. the jetty / The biggest and most luxurious resort (swimming pool) / Dorm (30) 25 but need 10 people minimum, "Basic" rooms w. fan 80, better rooms up to 150 / Nice setting in a huge garden but this part of the beach is the most busy...
  • Tuty Puri, just after the above / Another luxury place with arguably the most of charm / The standard room w. fan & shower however cost a whopping R100 !
  • Beautiland Resort (609 6245088), a small path sandwiched between the two above luxury resorts leads to a big complex, well of the beach / Dorm (20) 10, correct bungalow w. fan & shower 40, w. AC 100 / An option if all the other dorms are full... 
  • Light House, 150m further, well isolated on a nice section of beach / Dorm (12) 10, rooms 20(1) or 25(2) / Relaxed bar / TV with VCD / Go there for the backpackers' atmosphere, the relative isolation on a nice section of beach, the big wooden rooms and the great mattress (in the rooms) / What you may not like : the noise from the generators & water pump (avoid the rooms facing south), the noise connection between the rooms and the dorm, the rather empty rooms and the very susceptible owner (see following story) / How to save money at Light House ? After a full night of generator, I was awaken by the start of the water pump. I do not know for you but this is not the kind of music I expect to hear on a tropical island. So when I went to pay for the night, I raised the issue with the owner, adding that I would recommend my friends to stay in the rooms facing north only (he did not know I was writing a guide). The Malay guy changed color and started to insult me and my country (maybe he had just lost a bet over the France/Spain European Football Cup match, I don't know, but he was obviously really pissed off by France), refusing my money and ordering me to leave his place immediately (what I was planning to do anyway). So if you are broke and have earplugs, take a room facing south and get in touch with your lovely host as soon as awaken... 

- North of the beach, behind rocks : 

  • Zaki Beach Chalet, a medium sized resort / Rooms in the back 20, w. shower 25, Chalets 30-40 / Internet 15 per hour / Go there for the cheapest rooms on sand, even before discount / What you may not like : the limited space, whether in the resort or the rooms
  • Mak Cik Gemuk (09 6245120), a big resort with most rooms well in the back / Rooms w. ceiling fan 25, w. shower 45, w. TV 55, w. AC 100 / Off the beach and without too much charm but convenient cheap rooms for up to three peoples...
  • Kapas Garden Resort (604 8994325,, the last resort, the nearest to the snorkeling spot / A-Frame huts without fan but shower 40, room w. fan 60 / Dutch owner / Relaxed bar / A small place usually busy with expatriates. The bungalows are correct but the rooms, going by two, are overpriced !

Where to eat ? Just north of the pier, a couple of small restaurants serves the cheapest basic dishes of the island : Nasi or Mee Goreng for R3.5. The first one gives good portions and sell big bottle of mineral water for R2 (R2.5 if cold). 

Internet ? Zaki is the only resort with a service. It is however unsurprisingly expensive at R8 for 30mn or R15 per hour. 

Snorkeling ? 

The standard price of equipment is R5 per day for mask & tuba and R5 per day for fins. Half a day rates are not too popular yet. 

The most famous spot is just after Kapas Garden Resort, a 15mn walk north from the pier that some touts will disguise as a "very long walk with mountains to climb". There is indeed a little steep hill but, with the cords, it is a breeze. People who agree pay R10 (return) for the 3mn boat drive are either lazy or misinformed... The snorkeling is nicer in the morning, outside the wind, but, even at that time, good visibility is not guaranteed. There aren't too many colorful corals to watch anyway but fishes are relatively numerous. 

Another spot can be found opposite the Island, at the end of the 30mn trek inside the jungle. The tiny path start in front of bungalow No51 of Kapa Island Resort (front of the pier). Some parts are a bit steep or narrow but it is manageable. Some yellow plastic signs are strategically attached at intersections but not at all of them so tell people where you are going in case you get lost (improbable thought as you basically follow the path, a dry river canal and then a red water stream). The sight on the other side is a big disappointment : a rocky "beach" full of rubbish. Except for the jungle, the only reason to come here is to put your mask & following parts in the water : very little coral but bigger fishes (some really impressive if lucky) and a somehow better visibility. However, there are some waves and plenty of rocks so be cautious...

As a whole, snorkeling should be much better on Perhentian Islands and it is much better on Ko Tao in Thailand. 

Diving ? A few dive shops offer the basic gears and instructions. But it is not cheap. Aqua-sport by the Kapa Island Resort had PASI Open Water Courses for R850 and 2 dives boat trip for R165. It is therefore much cheaper to dive on the Perhentian Islands and the spots with better as well.

When to go ? July, August & any local holidays are the busiest times. Local people also flock there on WE. However, compared to the Perhentian Islands, the travelers' frequentation remains low : when 100 backpackers flock to the later everyday during the high season, maybe 2 or 3 only make it to Kapas... The trend will however be reverse during the monsoon when Kapas, being so close to the shores, remains the only island of the east coast easily accessible... There is also a risk of Kapas being targeted as an alternative to over touristy Redang : cruises full of tourists have already started to stop there...

So globally ? Great sand, nice beach, inviting water, snorkeling opportunities, few backpackers and no stories about robberies nor drug consumption. Pulau Kapas has some arguments ! 

 << Discover two arguments

How to reach & leave ?
Plenty of ticket offices in Marang will try to convince you that you should take a speed boat (see the Marang section). The return ticket cost R25 but, shopping around (in particular at the ticket boots opposite the Market, you should be able to get a one way ticket for R10 only. Speed boat do the trip from 9am to 5 or 6pm. You can leave the island from 9am to 6pm and, again, I was asked R10 only...
Slow boat cost R15 return and offer a most relaxed way to reach the island (30mn instead of 10mn) but they leave during high tide only (at least until the pier is completed, completion expected in 2001). If you are not sure of your return time, you may wish to get a one way ticket only. 

The trip back to Marang : too fast again ! / R10 / 15mn
Having been ejected from my GH, I arrived at the pier at 8:30. A nice lady welcomed me while a band in Hawaii shirts was playing lively music. Some people at least know how to treat a guest ! 
Well, sort off. Actually, the joyful & warm (theatrical) atmosphere was not directed at me but at the group of tourists who was getting off a Star Cruise Vessel. The sight of those tourists queuing along the jetty was pathetic enough and, considering the number of them, I felt happy I had not decided to remain longer. 
The speed boat showed up as scheduled at 9am and I was asked R10 only.