The west coast of Malaysia is not renowned for its beaches and if you were coming all the way to Penang just for the beach then you really have come to the wrong place. Penang is known more for its food and its Nyonya culture actually, the capital Georgetown is a world heritage city.
We stayed in Batu Ferringhi, the resort area on the island which is built up of mostly outdated hotels/ resort that line the beach. You wouldn’t say it was a horrible beach but with some of the best beaches nearby in other neighboring countries it really is incomparable.
The majority of the people relax by the pool as it is virtually impossible to swim in the ocean, not because of something lurking in the sea, like jellyfish or brown polluted water but because of blaring engines from jetskis that bob across sea, the speeding boats that drag banana boats skimming across the surface of the water or towing parasailors into the air. If you want to do these kind of sports then I’m sure you could have a good time.
Having said this, we are not complaining we had already known that people usually don’t come to Penang for the beach life but for food and culture, the east coast such as the Perhention islands is supposed to be very beautiful and should be on your itinerary if you are venturing out that way.
In our hotel room, while relaxing one night looking at things to do in Penang we read an article on Monkey Beach which stated it was the best beach on the island located in Penang’s only national park.
The elderly woman stood behind her table, smiled and advised us that if it were her she wouldn’t bother going to Monkey Beach. “It’s very similar to here, nothing better and they have jelly fish, the best place to go is Pulau Payur, which has plenty of fish and coral. You can do snorkeling and if you want even scuba diving”. Not to be deterred, we went to the activities centre and booked the boat to Monkey Beach which included fishing, BBQ and a couple of hours on the beach.
It had rained the night before and the sky was still covered in thick grey clouds. The shirtless tanned boat driver shouting over the roaring engine shouted “bit rough today, last night too much rain”. The boat bounced over the waves like we were on a rollercoaster as each time we came crashing down
The boat came to a stop about 100 metres out from Monkey Beach. “ We fish now” uttered the driver as he struggled to stand up and get the tackle on the rocking boat
Dangling from the hand lines was a small piece of shrimp which we lowered into the water, Rei was the first to get a bite, a quick tug and the fish was hooked as he wound it in. One small white and black striped fish was put in the bucket, too easy
Next Rei got lucky again and started pulling in another fish. The driver this time jumped up quickly “danger” he spurted out, taking the line from Rei. “Look, look here” as he pointed to three barbs which stuck to what would have to be the ugliest fish I had ever seen. “cut, it will cut you I look after you”.
I managed to catch a small white fish too while Hitomi and I both caught another one of those haunting barbed fish.
“Go, we go now” as the driver powered the engine Hitomi and I were slumped over the edge of the boat, it had happened so quickly one minute we were fishing the next we were sea sick while Rei just sat there with no symptoms of the dreaded seasickness.
One of the reasons we wanted to do this tour was not only because the beach was supposed to be the best on the island but it was named Monkey Beach after all the monkeys that supposedly roam the shores. Monkeys being my favourite animal, we were disappointed to only seeing one. Though I feel this may be unusual as trip advisor and other blogs have written that there were many and also they would try to take things from you in search of food.
Wow, I want to say that the beach could be nice it was definitely more rustic than Bathu Ferringi which is a good point and the natural rock formations at the far end of the beach are cool, especially for photography but the beach had quite a lot of litter, remember this is in a national park and the only National Park on the island so you would think someone would take better care of it but what kind of National Park would allow jet skis, banana boats on the beach. Next to the restaurant ATV’s roared around tracks through the forest. What is that, again this is a national park.
In a way it was a smaller scale of Bathu Ferringi but we had read that it was quiet, rustic peaceful beach, we weren’t expecting to find paradise but we were expecting a little more
Have you been to Monkey Beach? What were your thoughts? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.