Looking for a no frills, no hassle, back to basics, relaxing break to recharge your batteries? Look no further than the stunning Pulau Pangkor. Not to be confused with the high rolling 5-star resort on the sister island, Pangkor Laut resort, Pangkor (main) island is the local’s choice for the perfect family getaway with easy and affordable travel, fresh seafood, beautiful beaches and a relaxed local atmosphere.
Getting to Pulau Pangkor
A friend advised us to travel to Marina Bay jetty instead of the Lemut Jetty that most are familiar with, and this advice could not have been more appreciated! Not only we saved a good 30 minutes of travel time, but this jetty also hosts a convenient, sheltered car park (RM15/day) and a few restaurants serving local food – the perfect lunch option before you board the 10-minute ferry over to Pangkor island (RM14 per adult for a return ticket, RM5 for children – age 3 and above) that runs every hour from 7am till 8pm.
On reaching the island, you are welcomed by an abundance of pink taxis (minivans) all willing to take the business and deliver you to your accommodation at a flat rate of RM16. Warning, the island’s roads are at points extremely steep and windy, enough to raise a hair or two!
We have visited Pangkor three times in the last year, indicating just how much we enjoy this beautiful island. Our last trip during the Easter break saw us returning to Nipah Guesthouse, a small family-run guesthouse with distinctive blue triangular roofed cottages.
Nipah Guesthouse is located just off the main road, 500m from the Nipah Bay beach and 800m from Coral Bay beach, and is an affordable, comfortable, clean and welcoming option. As returning guests we were given a very warm-hearted welcome from the family: husband, wife and two young daughters.
They offer three types of accommodation: Standard chalet (2 people), Deluxe chalet (3 people) and a family chalet (6 people). If traveling with young children, it’s worth letting them know so they can advise you on which cottage might be best suited.
Whilst rooms are compact and basic they are en suite with a power shower and kept in pristine condition. Included in the package is a self serve/cook breakfast option of eggs, sausages, pancakes as well as fruit and breads. Somewhat basic but the option is there and at least for the environmentally conscious, the ‘cook-it-yourself’ concept reduces waste.
Along with deckchairs and hammocks, a shallow swimming pool in the centre of the well-maintained garden offers the perfect refreshment from the heat and is great for little swimmers too. If it’s fully booked, there are plenty of other similar options available on this same stretch of beach, and elsewhere on the island.
Pulau Pangkor activities
Hit the beach
There are many beautiful beaches around the island, our favourite is Coral Bay (next bay along from Nipah bay). A decent stretch of soft sand and calm waters lined with trees with swings and hammocks, offering plenty of shade that makes it a great place to enjoy the fresh early afternoon breeze and the sunset.
On the beachfront itself there is a wonderful café/restaurant called Daddy’s café with an extensive menu of both Western and local cuisine.
There is never much going on (except for the occasional monkey sneaking into the restaurant kitchen and getting chased out) so you are free to relax on the beach; we enjoyed a relaxing swim, built some sand castles, and even flew a small kite that we had packed.
Some travelers report of rubbish on the beach but we’ve only ever encountered clean beaches and water – this could of course be just be down to good luck!
Day trip to a small island or island hopping
You can take a motorboat to discover the small island of Pulau Giam across from Nipah and Coral bay. We took our daughter during our first visit last year. She was just three years old and loved the mini adventure of getting onto a speedboat and exploring this small treasure island with clear waters and beautiful shells. Those with older kids might enjoy the island hopping tour of neighbouring small islands.
Exploring the town on Pangkor
If shopping is your thing then you can find a little town by the port, with lots of Chinese type shops selling bits and bobs as well as local restaurants and amenities.
Scootering or quad biking around the island
Those hoping for more adventure and exploration, this may be just what you’re looking for! Bikes can be easily rented from various locations around the bay. Disclaimer: this is an excellent activity but there is only one road on the island, so there’s only so much you’re going to get out of it.
Nature on Pulau Pangkor
The island has a vast jungle with hiking trails (probably more suited to the experienced hiker) and an abundance of wildlife, most predominantly the spectacular hornbill. Every day at 6:30pm, at no charge, you can feed these fascinating birds outside the Sunset beach hotel. Monkeys are a common sight, although probably more commonly seen as a pest as they try desperately to steal food from bedazzled tourists.
Overall, Pangkor island receives a phenomenal 10/10 from our family as a uniquely beautiful, tranquil and easy to-get-to family getaway. If you’re looking for the quietest of quiet breaks, this is a place where time grinds to a halt. There is not much to do, and nothing to get in the way of peaceful family time, sunrises and sunsets, and mindfully watching the hours trundle on by.