July 12, 2015

Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)

Kerachut Beach

Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)

The Penang National Park lies at the north-western corner of Penang Island next to the village of Teluk Bahang. To get there we took bus no. 101 from the Komtar bus terminal. The fare was 4RM and it took about an hour for the ride.

Just next to the entrance to the park was a booth where we negotiated with a boatman for a ride direct to Kerachut Beach. The purpose was to avoid backtracking on the same trail to save our energy for climbing Penang Hill two days later. The price quoted was 80RM. We then went to the park office to register our visit. Registration is free.

Kerachut Beach

We then went to the beach to board the boat to Kerachut Beach. On the way the boatman stopped or slowed the boat to point out some rock formation eg a crocodile head. I thought it looked more like a turtle. We also sighted some eagles. The boat ride was bumpy and took half an hour.

Meromictic Lake
On landing we visited the Turtle Hatchery Centre (opens at 10am) for a briefing on turtle conservation. Then we walked around the Meromictic Lake before taking the trail back to the coast. We were lucky that the lake was full of water when we visited with the water held back by a sand dam on the beach. The lake gets its fresh water from the rivers and at certain times salt water from the sea. The saline water would sink to the bottom. This creates two layers of water - cool fresh water on top and warm sea water on the bottom.

Sand Dam holding back Meromictic Lake
The trail back to the park entrance involved crossing a hill up to a height of 160m. Some places were steep but safe to trek. Rope supports were provided at locations which were more difficult.

We snacked at a rest stop as we would not be leaving the park for lunch. This trail took 1.5 hours for us to walk.

Monkey Beach

When we reached the coast we decided to continue on for Monkey Beach. The going was tough as we were traversing a rocky cliff face even though the elevation change was not as great as the earlier trail. At Monkey Beach we located a stall where we had durians and coconuts. We also ordered mee goreng for lunch.

This beach is secluded. Some visitors hire a boat from park HQ to get here for a quiet picnic and swim before going back by boat again after several hours.

Trail from Kerachut Beach
My knees were wobbly and thighs tired so we decided to return to the park entrance by boat. The drink lady readily obliged and quickly got us a boatman. It was a 5min ride and cost us 50RM.

Back at the village we waited for the bus for half hour when a local guy told us that no bus would be coming to this bus stop until after 8 because of Ramadan. Food stalls would be set up along this road in preparation for 'break' fast.

We had to walk to the bus terminal just after the roundabout for the bus. We moved and informed the other pax as well.

Monkey Beach

Just before reaching Georgetown I experienced cramps in the thighs. When we alighted from the bus near Komtar I had to hobble but after a short walk was okay. When back in the hotel room I drank more 100+ to replenish the salts sweated out during the day's walk. This seemed to help as I did not experience any more cramps even after climbing Penang Hill.

We got back to the hotel just after 5pm. We had dinner at the Starview Restaurant to celebrate the completion of our first trek. This restaurant would be moving out before year end as the New World Complex will be redeveloped.

We planned to rest the next day by taking a sight-seeing trip around Penang Island. 

Our route

From Pantai Kerachut to Monkey Beach. Map data ©2017 Google