Malaysia // The east coast //

Pulau Kapas

Diminutive Pulau Kapas, less than half an hour from Marang by speedboat, boasts arcs of sandy beach the colour of pale brown sugar, and aquamarine waters that visibly teem with fish. It’s a very appealing little island with a laidback charm, emphasized by the friendly approach of the best of the resorts. Just offshore, the even smaller Pulau Gemia is the site of just one resort. In theory it’s possible to visit Kapas as a day-trip, by catching an early boat out and returning late in the afternoon, but this means making the most of the midday heat – and besides, it’s really worth staying for at least a night or two.

The only season when things are not quite so idyllic is from June to August, particularly at the weekends, when the island can get pretty busy. The rest of the time it’s a great place to do very little for a few days; the one notable highlight in the slim social calendar is the annual Kapas–Marang swimathon in April. During the northeast monsoon almost all the resorts close down.

A couple of marked trails make it possible to hike to the undeveloped eastern side of Kapas, ending up at the pebbly (and sadly far from litter-free) Berakit Beach where you can take a dip. The longer but more interesting route starts close to Kapas Turtle Valley, the shorter from behind Kapas Island Resort, running alongside a stream for almost all the way. You can combine them to take a circular route; both include steep sections close to the beach. Bring plenty of water and use insect repellent, particularly if you’ll be in the forest after 5pm when the mosquitoes come out in force. The paths can be very slippery after rain.

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