Some say that Kapas Island (also called Pulau Kapas) is Malaysia’s most beautiful island or at least it’s best-kept secret. For those unfamiliar with this place, Kapas Island is a small island in Kuala Terengganu, in the east coast of Malaysia. As of this writing (May 2018), it’s one of the less popular attractions to visit in Malaysia. You’ll find very little crowd here even on weekends. Based on my own journey, here’s a complete travel guide to Kapas Island. 😉
If you haven’t yet, you can read about my solo weekend trip here in Kapas Island as well.
As said above, Kapas Island is an island located in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. The word “kapas island” translates to “cotton island” in Malay, referring to its white beaches.
Its province Kuala Terengganu is actually a getaway to the best beaches in Malaysia — Perhentian Islands, Redang Island, Tioman Island and others. While Perhentian Islands and Tioman Island are known for diving and Redang Island for its exclusivity, Kapas Island is the best choice for those who want a more secluded beach vacation.
I’m working in Kuala Lumpur and I went here for a weekend beach getaway. It was a refreshing stay that I wish I’d planned more than 2 days!
How to get here
From Kuala Lumpur, you can take a flight to Kuala Terengganu and then a taxi to Marang Jetty (not to be confused with Merang Jetty).
From Kuala Lumpur, catch an overnight bus to Kuala Terengganu (RM44). Get off at MBKT bus terminal. You can book online via Easy Book or Bus Online Ticket. Make sure to printout the confirmation ticket in your email and show it at the bus station. Travel time is about 7 hours.
From the MBKT bus terminal, take a bus that will drop you off in the town of Marang and then walk for a few minutes to the jetty. If you arrive early in the morning or late at night, there might not be buses available going this route. Another (and much easier) way is to take a taxi or Grab (about RM20-25). Travel time is about 20 minutes.
Tip: There are food stalls in the bus terminal so you can have a breakfast there first before proceeding to the jetty.
Once in Marang Jetty, buy a round-trip ferry ticket to Kapas Island (RM40). Ticket counters open in as early as 8AM. Here are the schedules of the ferries to Kapas Island:
- Marang Jetty to Kapas Island: 9am / 11am / 1pm / 3pm / 5pm
- Kapas Island to Marang Jetty: 9:30am / 11:30am / 1:30pm / 3:30pm / 5:30pm
I went here for a weekend only, and in such cases I suggest taking the 10PM or 11PM buses in Kuala Lumpur so you won’t have to wait long in the morning. From the terminal in Kuala Terengganu, I took a Grab to Marang jetty. Easy peasy.
When to visit
The best time to visit Kapas Island is from April to August. Like other beaches in Malaysia, it’s closed from November to February due to the monsoon season.
It may open early in February to give way to vacationing locals for the Chinese New Year, so if you’re here during that month you can always inquire with the resorts if they are already open.
Things to do in Kapas Island
The best thing to do in Kapas Island is to lay down on a hammock and beach bum. Seriously, this place is amazingly quiet and peaceful. Most accommodations also have their own stock of books, which is free to peruse.
Snorkeling and kayaking
Aside from relaxing, you can also snorkel. Kapas Island is part of the Marine National Park so you’re guaranteed good underwater sights. You can pay for a snorkeling tour or just swim in the beachfront of your accommodation. There are rentals for life vest (RM5) and snorkel (RM15).
Exploring all the beaches
Kapas Island has about 5-6 main beaches, which are connected through bridges. You can walk end-to-end in about 30 minutes or so.
Take photos of the rock formations
There are several interesting rock formations you can find in the beaches in Kapas Island. A lot of locals go to these parts to take pictures.
Day trip to Gem Island
Other activities include jungle walk and day tour in the nearby Gem Island, which can be arranged by the Longsha Campsite.
Where to eat in Kapas Island
There are a few restaurants you can choose from, so eating is not actually a problem. I went to the Kapas Island Resort Restaurant and would recommend their yellow coconut fresh lobsters (for lunch and dinner), as well as the banana pancakes in the KBC restaurant (for breakfast). If you want budget meals, you can go to the JT Cafe.
Meals are more expensive in Kapas Island than in the mainland, but still within reasonable rates. Prepare about RM15 for one meal.
[ Don’t know what to eat? Here are my favorite foods in Malaysia. ]
Where to stay
I stayed in Captain Longhouse and I highly recommend this one. Like other accommodations in the island, the two-story building has quirky decorations. There are private rooms and beds in dorm available
They have a kitchen that is open for breakfast. There are several hammocks outside where you can lie down all day. Captain Longhouse is located at the end of the island, so the beachfront is almost deserted — especially when you compare it with the main beach near the jetty.
By the way, the staff is also very friendly.
Captain Longhouse isn’t strict about check in/check out times, and rate is calculated per night. I checked in at about 10AM and checked out at 3PM and paid only RM50 for the dorm slot.
Twin shared room: RM100
Triple shared room: RM150
Tent: RM20-25 / RM15 if you have your own tent
If you’re on a budget, you can always book for a tent or slot in a dorm. I find that private rooms for one person are also not that expensive. For instance, chalets in Kapas Beach Chalet (KBC) cost only RM70-90 per night.
As of this writing, booking in Kapas Island is a bit traditional so you can actually just walk in. (Of course, contacting them first-hand via their pages or Whatsapp for available rooms is always advisable.)
Here are other budget accommodations in Kapas Island are:
Private and dorm rooms available
Tent: RM15 /RM10 if you have your own tent
Kapas Beach Chalet (KBC)
Backpacker room: RM50 – only available for walk-ins
If you want a more comfortable stay, there are the other resorts available:
- Kapas Turtle Valley Resort
- Kapas Island Resort – book discounted rates here
- Ombak Kapas Island
You can also stay at the nearby Gem Island Resort & Spa. Book discounted rates here.
Give back? It takes time for us to write these guides. As such, we’ll appreciate if you can book through our affiliate links, at no extra cost to you!
There’s really no high-peak season in Kapas Island, but if you’re going on a long weekend (including days where Thursday or Tuesday is a holiday and people take a leave in-between) make sure to book the bus tickets and rooms in advance.
Don’t forget to bring the following as well:
- Cash. There are no atms in the island.
- Mosquito repellent (Read how to prevent mosquito bites here)
- Flashlight for walking at night
Other items such as sunblock can be bought in the island.
That’s it. Hope you enjoy your trip to Kapas Island as well!
Has this travel guide to Kapas Island been helpful to you? Have any questions to ask? Post them in the comment section below. 🙂
P.S. You might also be interested in:
Other posts we’ve written about Southeast Asia:
- Dive, Snorkel, Repeat: Guide to Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
- 23+ Beaches in Southeast Asia to escape the summer crowd
Like this post? Save it in Pinterest!