Taman Negara Pulau Pinang
Jalan Hassan Abbas
0730 - 1800 daily
The Penang National Park is located in Teluk Bahang, about an hour drive from Penang International Airport. Public transport is available although if you're planning to trek, driving is the better option. Or at least a change of fresh clothes.
Entrance is free although visitors must register themselves at the office. Boat rides can be booked from kiosks around the park's entrance. I didn't book a boat because I had no idea if I'll even reach the beach I was heading to. So I had to wait for an available boat. Luckily, a group of 3 tourists had extra seats in the boat they booked. The ride I got from Kerachut Beach to main jetty was RM20 per person.
Camping is probably allowed if you inform the park office in advance. Visitors usually come to visit the Kerachut Beach (Pantai Kerachut) or Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung - this should translate as Mermaid Bay). On my first visit, I went to Kerachut Beach but I plan to return and visit the other spots. So this post will be updated if I ever get to visit the rest of the park.
|This is probably Pasir Pandak. No trekking required|
It wasn't too muddy when I visited but my shoes did get dirty. Do wear proper shoes if you're planning to trek because the path can be quite challenging in flip flops or sandals. Bring water and snack but please take home your trash.
On the map, getting to Kerachut Beach should take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. For me, it took over 2 hours. I haven't been exercising and I took so many breaks along the way. In the beginning, I even considered turning back but... I felt lazy. So I went on :-p
There are plenty of gazebos like this along the way. So come early, take your time, and explore at your own pace.
Before reaching the beach, you'll cross a bridge over the meromictic lake. A meromictic lake is the kind of lake that has layers of water that do not intermix. In this case, the salt water from the sea and the water from rivers and rain.
This is a huge deal because apparently there are less than 20 meromictic lakes in the world. Although ours is the seasonal kind of meromictic lake, as it only happens during the change of monsoon, it is precious because a slight change could mean losing this unique natural feature.
One may be forgiven to think that this is a plain nothing. I mean, where is the lake? Like I said, it is seasonal. This is what I understand. Sea current and wind will push sand to the river mouth forming a dike. There are also boulders there which help to form a natural dam.
This dike/dam will eventually break naturally when the season is over. The lake water will then flow into the open sea, leaving the slightly muddy or savannah-like "plain nothingness" we see for the rest of the year.
The Turtle Conservation & Information Centre is located at the other end of the beach. Go past the office, public washroom and camping ground. The route was pretty sandy so I changed into flip-flops. Sand can get quite hot so going barefoot may not be a good idea.
1000 - 1630
If you're already familiar with turtle conservation efforts, the centre can't offer much for you. But it is a good start for young kids. During my visit, there were a couple of adult (injured) turtles and some hatchlings in the containers.
|White sandy beach|
I spent some time reading my book right on the beach, under the shade. It was windy and I was feeling sleepy. We ate the bread we brought, checked out the turtle centre and when it got too hot, headed to the jetty to wait for a boat. No swimming because there were jellyfish as big as a dinner plate.
Look out for updates in this post :)