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Monkey Beach: trekking at Penang National Park

To get to Monkey Beach he had to land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is an experience. The polished granite floor, the large number of western tourists waiting for transit flights, and the brightly lit shopping malls. The ride to Kuala Lumpur Central Station from the airport by KLIA Express is smooth. You can change into the LRT at Central station and alights at Pasar Seni station which is a few stops away. The KLIA Express takes all of 30 minutes, whereas the LRT takes you to Pasar Seni in about 15 minutes. Hentian Puduraya Bus Station is a five-minute walk from Pasar Seni LRT Station.

Puduraya is the nerve centre of bus operations in Malaysia and you can find buses for every destination here. Boarded the non-stop express bus to Penang, which departs every hour. The wide-bodied air-conditioned Volvo Bus with airline seats and transparent body enables one to enjoy the view as one reclines in comfort. I could see millions of palm trees lining both sides of the expressway as they whiz past your windowless viewing glass. The speed is steady, and the ride smoothes till my neighbour nudges me at Penang bridge, which links Penang to the Malaysian mainland. The bus stops at Sungai Nibong bus station at Penang, which is near the airport.

Monkey Beach
Monkey Beach

Penang National Park

Taman Negara or Penang National Park is 10 km away from the city centre near Batu Ferringhi beach. You enter your name and nationality at the gate of the National Park and enter the lush tropical rainforests for a three-hour trek to Monkey Beach. Monkey Beach is a quaint, secluded beach that is devoid of tourists owing to its inaccessibility. The forest cover is so thick that it is pitch dark at noon, as one treks under the canopy of million-year-old giant trees that crave to reach the stars! Every step of one’s trek through thick rainforests is filled with adventure.

Thousands of dried leaves of all shapes and sizes, in various hues of bronze, lie on the forest floor. I stepped barefoot on the leaves, approaching the Monkey Beach. I walked over bridle paths, forest trails, and rocks. The greenery around is a soothing balm for one’s tired eyes. This dipterocarp rainforest is home to many species of flora, including palms, bamboos, ferns, nutmeg, beetle-nut, durians, and mangosteens. The view from Monkey Beach is a deeply spiritual experience. Miles and miles of foam soaked and sun-drenched, the silvery beach stretching as far as the eye can see.

Penang National Park
Penang National Park

Penang Turtle Sanctuary

Finally, I reached a pocket of serenity and tranquillity away from the humdrum of daily existence where I can spend a few hours in meditation and in silent communion with nature. I meditated in this sheltered bay to the tune of the roaring water, watching the snow-white clouds suspended above the greyish blue waters. The white sands are spotlessly clean owing to their inaccessibility and the unwillingness of tourists to trek six hours to discover a paradise that nature hid. The trek back takes all four hours. It is advisable to start your trek at dawn, spend a few hours at the beach, and return to the main gate by dusk. At the end of my walk I reached a rare meromictic lake, walked along the beach for a bit and found the Penang Turtle Sanctuary.

During the months of April and August, Green Sea Turtles come to the beaches here to lay their eggs. Olive Ridley Turtles also visits this site between September and February. There are seven types of sea turtles in Malaysia. These include the Green Turtle, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback, and Olive Ridley. The Olive Ridley turtles indulge in nesting once a year, on a full moon night at Monkey Beach in Penang. Monkey Beach is one of the few beaches in the world, where Olive Ridley nested.

Turtles on the Monkey Beach
Penang Turtle Sanctuary

Olive Ridley turtles

Olive Ridley turtles emerge from the sea and nest on the beach for two to three days. Only the females come ashore. The males remain in the ocean. Nesting takes place in pitch darkness between 12:00 midnight and 4:00 a.m. The female digs out a deep pit, using her hind flippers to dig the soft sandy soil. She digs a two feet deep pit, lays her eggs into this pit, and covers it with sand with her front flippers. Every female lays about 80 to 100 eggs at a time in a time period of 45 minutes.

Mother turtle returns to the sea and after 45 days, the eggs hatch at dawn. The infant turtle breaks the shell and crawls on its own into the ocean to join his parents. Baby turtle breaks out of the egg and burrows through the sand, reaches the surface and opens its eyes to see the reflection of the stars on the ocean, and moves in that direction to enter the ocean. The sex of the hatchling depends on the temperature. More females are born at higher temperatures and more males are born at lower temperatures.

One has just returned after a close encounter with nature at Penang Turtle Sanctuary at Monkey Beach. The Olive Ridley turtles are an endangered species and they need to be protected at all costs.


How to get there?

Penang is connected by direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Chennai, Singapore, Bangkok, and Jakarta. The city centre is approximately 20 km from Penang airport. Penang is also connected by rail from Kuala Lumpur. The overnight train journey makes it convenient for foreign tourists arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Penang Bus Station is 9 km drive from the airport.

In short, if you want to know more about Beach Monkey or any other southasian country, click on

however, if you want to know more about the culture of any other countries, look at our Blog.

Author: Murli Menon from

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