|Penang National Park|
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 November 2016 )|
Formerly Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, it was declared the Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) on 4th April 2003. It covers an area of 2562 hectre, and is the smallest National Park in Malaysia. It is located in the North-Western part of Penang Island. This park is unique in the sense that it contains different types of habitat not found it other parks: a rare meromictic lake, mangroves, mudflats, wetlands and coral reefs. It also has a turtle nesting beach.
This park offers just about anything for all kind of visitors. For the adventurous, it offers challenging hikes and interesting trails. For those just wanting to relax, the beaches are among the best on the island. As of September 2007, the park is undergoing upgrading and renovation works, which includes the building of a tourist centre and improvement of some of the trails.
All visitors are required to register at the Park Headquarters, located at the entrance of the park. Registration and entrance is free. From there, you can either walk in or hire a boat. Enquire at the park HQ or ask around. There are usually boat operators on standby near and around the jetty.
At the mouth of Sungai Tukun, it is only a short 15-20 minutes walk from Park HQ. Suitable for picnics as well as those who want to stay overnight. There is a pool with the water sourced from the river. Great for a cool and refreshing dip, especially on a hot day. After the upgrades, it now contains complete facilities for campers. Toilets, showers, cooking pits and camping spots are among the amenities provided. A short walk into the jungle, one can discover a rich variety of flora and fauna. It has direct paths to other parts of the park, including Pantai Kerachut and Muka Head.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Marine Research Centre is located here. There is jetty here for the centre's use. It is a short stretch of beach.
Popularly known as Monkey beach, named after monkeys that loiter around here. Some people also refer to here as Muka Head. A pretty long stretch of beach. You should be able to reach here from Park HQ in less than 1 and a half hours. Many hotels provide packages that includes the boat ride and BBQ lunch. You can camp here, although the facilities are not as good as Teluk Tukun and Pantai Kerachut. There is a abadoned house owned by Loh Boon Siew. There is another house that sells drinks as well as providing boat services for those lazy to walk back.
Muka Head Lighthouse
At the far end of Teluk Duyung is the starting point for the climb up to the Muka Head Lighthouse. Built in 1883 at a cost of £37,929, it is located 242m above sea level. It is opened to public if the caretaker is in. Enquire at the house at Teluk Duyung on whether the caretaker is around. It takes between 30 minutes to an hour to reach the lighthouse, depending on your fitness. From here, you can get a spectacular view of the island. On a clear day, you would be able to see Pulau Langkawi and as far as Sumatra in Indonesia.
Located at the western side of the park, this is a beatiful stretch of beach. Facing the Straits of Malacca, it can get pretty windy and the sea can get pretty rough here. Camping facilities and amenities are provided here. It is also a turtle nesting ground, with a turtle sanctuary located here. It is the nesting place of the Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) from April to August and the Olive-Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) between September and February.
Also not to be missed is the rare meromictic lake resulting from a seasonal phenomenon. During low tides and dry seasons, the lake becomes a field of mudflats, with hardy, terrestrial grass. During spring tides, seawater enters through a one metre wide opening to fill the lake slowly. It contains both sea water and fresh water layers which never mixes, hence the name meromictic. The cool fresh water is on the top while the warm sea water lies at the bottom.
It takes about 1-1.5 hours to get here from park HQ. It is a little bit more challenging than the trail to Muka Head, as one has to climb up a hill to get here. However, it is definitely worth the time and effort.
Located at the far south-western end of the Park, this is the longest beach in the Park. However, getting here is a little bit difficult, as the trail is not very clear. One has to climb up a steep hill before going down to the beach. There are several trails that goes here. The most convenient one would be the one that starts at the end of Pantai Kerachut. Make sure you have enough water and time to make the trip.
Getting to the Penang National Park
It is located at the end of Jalan Batu Feringghi (Road), in the fishing village of Teluk Bahang. From Georgetown, head towards Batu Feringghi and Teluk Bahang. The journey should take about half an hour. There are also buses serviced by Rapid Penang and Hin Bus Co. from Komtar and Weld Quay (Jetty).
Department of Wildlife and National Parks Penang
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave a comment below.