Looking for a tropical paradise for your next holiday? Kapas Island (Pulau Kapas) is a tiny, laid-back paradise off the east coast of Malaysia. Reachable by ferry from Marang, it boasts spotless, relaxing and un-crowded beaches: perfect places for soaking up the sun in absolute peace. Indeed, people come to Kapaas mainly for relaxation, sunbathing, snorkelling and diving amid the spectacular coral reefs around the island.
Simplicity is key: Kapas has no cars, motorbikes or bicycles. It doesn’t even have streets, so it’s time to wind down, relax and get close to nature’s wonders. Walking from one beach to another is easy via the small tracks which cross the island.
For the adventurous, it takes just a couple of hours to stroll along the beautiful beach from one end to the other, passing a few holiday resorts along the way. One side of the island is accessible only through a jungle trekking trail which leads to stunning, tranquil coves – bring mosquito repellent.
Diving and snorkelling
Just in case you’re tired of kicking back on paradise beaches, you might enjoy slipping into the warm clear waters and exploring the coral reefs while swimming, snorkelling or diving. Turtles, rays, small reef sharks and hundreds of colourful fish inhabit the waters.
Sea turtles and numerous species of fish await your discovery on Kapas Island and the Aqua Sport Divers centre is the only dive centre on the island to take you to find them. There’s also a beautiful World War II Japanese ship wreck perfect for exploring. PADI diving licenses can be obtained in Kapas but make sure you book a dive master before you arrive.
The World War II shipwreck is located five nautical miles offshore. Meanwhile, the outer reefs on the wreck’s seaward side are great diving spots too. The shallow waters make the area perfect to learn in.
If you prefer to stay nearer the surface of the water, the island is also ideal for leisurely splashing and snorkelling amid a variety of fish and turtles.
Kapas is famous for its squid catching and avid fishermen flock to the island from April to September each year to enjoy this unique activity. They catch by night, accompanied by local fishermen equipped with the right squid-catching gear to catch squid as large as 50 centimetres long.
The annual, international Swimathon event is held in Kapas during the month of April. Participants swim across the ocean from Kapas Island to the mainland, a distance of approximately 6.5 kilometres. The event attracts over 200 swimmers each year from all corners of the globe.
When to go to Kapas Island
Any time that is not between October and February, Kapas’s Monsoon Season, when the island is closed to visitors. Most of the resorts’ staff temporary move to the mainland to escape the severe weather conditions during this season. July, August and the local holidays are widely considered to be the best times to go.