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Travel guide to Kapas Island: A Backpacker’s Paradise in Malaysia

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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.

Kapas Island

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.

Kapas Island or Pulau Kapas in Malaysia
Welcome to Kapas Island.

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

By air

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).

By land

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.

Jetty in Kapas Island, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Jetty in Kapas Island.

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

Beach bum

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.

Beach in Kapas Island, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Katherine in Kapas Island

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).

Kayak boards in Kapas Island, Malaysia
Kayak boards.
Kapas Island activity - kayaking
Kayaking

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.

Beachfront in KBC, Kapas Island
Beachfront in KBC.
Bridge in Kapas Island, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
One of the bridges connecting the beaches.

Beach in Kapas Island, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

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.

Rock formations in Kapas Island, Malaysia
Rock formations.

Kapas Island - rock formations

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

Captain Longhouse

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

Captain Longhouse, Kapas Island, Malaysia
Captain Longhouse.
Dorm room in Captain Longhouse, Kapas Island, Malaysia
Dorm room in Captain Longhouse.

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.

Beach hut in Kapas Island, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Beach hut in front of Captain Longhouse.

Beachfront of Captain Longhouse, Kapas Island

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.

Captain Longhouse
Twin shared room: RM100
Triple shared room: RM150
Dorm: RM50
Tent: RM20-25 / RM15 if you have your own tent
Facebook page

Budget stays

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.)

Longsha Campsite, Kapas Island, Malaysia
Longsha Campsite.
Kapas Beach Chalet or KBC, Kapas Island, Malaysia
Kapas Beach Chalet or KBC.

Here are other budget accommodations in Kapas Island are:

Koko Land
Private and dorm rooms available

Longsha Campsite
Tent: RM15 /RM10 if you have your own tent
Facebook page

Kapas Beach Chalet (KBC)
Chalets: RM70-90
Backpacker room: RM50 – only available for walk-ins

Beach Resorts

If you want a more comfortable stay, there are the other resorts available:

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!

Must-read tips

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:

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:

 

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2 thoughts on “Travel guide to Kapas Island: A Backpacker’s Paradise in Malaysia

  1. Nice blog and info .. Keep a good work. You can also visit Redang Island in Terengganu which near to Kapas island. You may enjoy the snorkeling trips through the island.

  2. Yay thanks for the article! Can’t wait to explore Malaysia as we are moving there for work in a few months! 🙂

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