Another “Kuala” is set to be a tourism hotspot in Malaysia.
Kuala Penyu in Western Sabah, East Malaysia, started getting mainstream attention after the world-famous “Survivor” show was staged in Pulau Tiga National Park, a few hours north. This has long been the role of Kuala Penyu in Sabah tourism: as a gateway to the famed park and not a destination in its own right.
KP Geared To Become The Next Seaside Sensation
This transit status of Kuala Penyu in Sabah tourist circuit is about to change as the Malaysian government plans to develop (what may well become) “KP” into an eco-tourism haven because of its proximity to the said park.
On its own, KP brims with crystalline beaches, namely Tempurung, Sawangan and Sungai Labuan Waterfront. The various seaside lodges that comprise the tourist infrastructure of KP are expected to be reinforced with more investment from the local government of Sabah.
The greater attraction, however, remains the Pulau Tiga National Park, 158 square kilometers of marine sanctuary dotted with three islands of Tiga, Kalampunian Besar and Kalampunian Damit.
Bubbling Mud, Oozing Methane Gas and Mating Snakes
Pulau (“island”) Tiga is carpeted with vegetation and has long been considered a forest reserve despite active volcanic activity that spews bubbling mud and methane gas to the surface. The sheer number of resident flora and fauna, however, makes a trip to Pulau Tiga worth the minimal risk of major mud eruption.
Pulau Kalampunian Besar is where the torrid beach lover should head straight to for its blinding white beaches and crystalline waters, all ideal ingredients for delectable swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling. The national park brims with underwater wildlife, and this island is the best jump off point to indulge anyone’s Waterworld wanderlust.
Pulau Kalampunian Damit is more like a trysting place for its resident sea snakes (hence, its Anglicized name “Snake Island”) who find it cozy to snuggle in this piece of large rock jutting out of the waters. Although there is an element of otherworldly thrill in seeing writhing, mating snakes, there is also the fact that sea snakes are highly poisonous and might get easily offended when intruded upon, so best to leave this rocky outcrop to them.
KP Solitude: Get It Now!
Kuala Penyu is still hugely under-touristed despite the sheer volume of tourist traffic coming in to Sabah and heading to Kota Kinabalu, and despite KK’s scant two-and-a-half-hour driving distance from KP.
While the local Sabah government is still putting in place support infrastructure to make travel to the area faster and more convenient, the time to head to Kuala Penyu is now. Tempurung is reputed to be one of the most isolated and breathtaking seaside districts in KP, and the handful of accommodations that offer full board and lodging for the off-the-beaten path traveler is enough to make the local population go up, but not yet enough to make overcrowding a problem. Travelers may even find that at times, they have the beach all to themselves, a commodity that may become rarer as KP gears up to attract more visitors in the coming years.