Pangkor Island is one of the many great Malaysian islands, but it is also close enough for a short getaway from KL. It only takes you three hours and a bit to get to Lumut, from where you can take a short ferry ride to the island.
“Honey, how do you write ‘djettie’ in English? Otherwise we will never get there.”
While I type a different spelling of ‘Loemoet Djettie Terminal’ in Waze, hubby’s eyes are fixed on the road. He doesn’t hear me and I hope that his sense of direction does not need Waze at this early hour. It’s still quiet on the road and we’re driving fast. Fortunately, the children are still asleep in the back of the car. A yellow-pink sun rises slowly from behind the mountains.
Pulau Pangkor. A small, more or less forgotten island west of the Malaysian peninsula in the Strait of Melaka. Traditionally, Pangkor offered a safe haven for fishermen, merchants and pirates. In Thai language, Pang Ko means ‘beautiful island’ and Pangkor people believe that pirates from Thailand have given the name in the past. The name suits the island well, because Pangkor has got beautiful white beaches, lush jungle, delicious satay and lots of wild boars. Yes, wild boars.
Tiger Rock hotel on Pangkor Island
Pulau Pangkor has many local homestays and a few more luxurious hotels, including Tiger Rock and Pangkor Laut Resort on the neighbouring island. Tiger Rock is a small family-run hotel in the middle of the jungle on the southernmost part of the island. It is run by supervisor Mohan and his wife Bavanni and their daughter, who rule the kitchen. With great success, because their food is incredibly tasty. There is no menu, so you eat whatever Bavanni cooks up and her food is outstanding. Paper thin pancakes, all kinds of bread and cake, yogurt and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast. Chicken tikka, tempura fried vegetables and nasi goreng for lunch. Roti chennai, fish tikka and chicken curry for dinner. Any special request can be fulfilled, if they can. Going hungry while at Tiger Rock? No way.
Two dogs live on the property. They are super friendly and our kids had a great time with them.
There are only eight rooms at Tiger Rock and they’re all different in size, layout and furnishings. All are very spacious and the two Hill Houses with a total of four rooms have got their own pool to share. We stay at one of the Hill Houses this weekend and we seem to have the whole place for ourselves. It is quite a steep climb up though, therefore and the presence of many mosquitoes make this place not overly suitable for very young children or people whose mobility is limited. Massages can be arranged though for those who’ve got sore legs from the climb.
“I just saw a huge wild boar in front of our room!” Slightly disturbed but trying not to show it, I look up from my book. It’s me-time and I am trying to relax next to the pool. Hubby stands in front of me and indicates the size of the boar with his hands. To me, it looks more like he’d seen an elephant.
“It was black with large tusks and it looked at me with red eyes and it was about to attack me.” Sure, hun. I smile a little and return to more exciting things, like my book. Hubby walks away, hoping to find a more interested audience. The kids also don’t pay attention to him, as they’re too busy splashing away in the pool.
In the 17th century, the Dutch were expanding their regional presence and they built Kota Belanda – Holland Town – on the island and a fortress, to strengthen their trade mission. In 1874, the treaty between the British and the prince of Perak was signed here. This marked the start of the British colonisation of Malaysia.
The ruins of the fort are still there and nowadays the fort is a protected national historical monument, which can be visited free of charge. It is a five minutes ride from Tiger Rock and Mr. Mohan can bring you here, if you want to.
If you’re keen for a snorkelling trip, your best bet is to arrange through Mr. Mohan. With the trip comes not only towels and beach mats, but also a big eskie, filled with Bavanni’s gorgeous food and some ice cold drinks, both for the kids as well as for adults…
On the west coast of Pulau Pangkor lies Pasir Bogak, an elongated beach with all kinds of possibilities for water fun. Mr. Mohan can arrange a boat at Pasir Bogak for half a day of snorkelling and swimming. A unique place for snorkelling is Pulau Giam, just off the coast of Pulau Pangkor, because of the enormous amount of beautifully coloured fish that can be seen here. It’s very popular, so go early in the morning, to avoid having to fight for the best snorkelling spots.
In case you have survived the snorkelling frenzy, you can request the boatman to take you to one of the many snowy-white beaches of Pulau Pangkor. We went to a beach west of Pulau Pangkor. As soon as we got there, we noticed a lot of plastic, both in the sea and on the beach. What a shame, for this plastic disrupted the idyllic Facebook image we had in mind. Determined to get our beach Insta-ready, we put the kids to work. After a clean-up in which the whole family participated, the place looked much better, apart from a rusty TV, that was either washed up or left by someone.
From Kuala Lumpur to Pulau Pangkor
You can reach Pulau Pangkor by ferry, which departs from the Lumut ferry terminal. For first time drivers: Lumut Jetty is not very well marked on the signs en route. Therefore, Waze or Googlemaps is of vital importance. Know how to spell the word ‘jetty’…
Once you have arrived in Lumut, it is best to park your car in the large covered parking garage opposite the jetty. This costs RM 10 per day. From the garage, it is a short 5 minutes walk to the jetty. Tickets for the ferry can be bought at the counter. The ferry leaves for Pangkor as early as 7am and goes every half hour and the journey takes about 20 minutes. Please get off at Pangkor Main Jetty, which is the second stop. Mr. Mohan is more than happy to pick you up and bring you back there after your stay.
The last ferry from the island back to Lumut on the mainland departs at 7.30 in the evening. Don’t miss it; unless you want to stay on the island…?
Rooms can best be booked directly through Tiger Rock itself, if you’re keen to get a resident / local rate.
We paid for our stay at Tiger Rock. As always, our opinions are honest and our own!