Compared with other island destinations in Asia, Penang does not have the longest, most pristine or widest beaches with the whitest sands, clearest waters or most colorful marine life. Tourists, however, are still in for a treat. Swimming and other water sports in Penang are as equally exciting as anywhere else in Asia and the world.
Penang is a tiny island; it is, in fact, Malaysia’s second smallest state. Yet, it has so many interesting activities and attractions to offer. Several waters sports that are offered in Penang beaches are swimming, wind surfing, parasailing, jet skiing , fishing, deep-sea fishing, banana boat rides, boating, catamaran sailing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, speed boating, water skiing, sunbathing and . In other words, they offer all that vacationers and beach lovers could ever hope for. The most popular activity among foreign guests is parasailing. It costs around RM50-60 per person. The beaches provide professional guide and the necessary equipments and facilities.
There are not many beaches in Penang, but the most popular is Batu Ferringhi or “Foreigner’s Rock”. This beach offers a number of facilities for guests to enjoy, to make up for its not-so-crystal clear waters. Batu Ferringhi is also popular with honeymooners. Swimming is not really best in Batu Ferringhi because of the many sightings of jellyfish. Two other activities around the beach are horseback riding and enjoying massage and foot reflexology.
The beach, though, is clean and well maintained. Other than the water sports, tourists frequent Batu Ferringhi for the nightlife and amazing parties. Around the beach are major hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Some of the cool places in the area are Hard Rock Hotel, Golden Sands Resort, and Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa. There are also restaurants, cafés and clubs that stay open until very late at nights. Batu Ferringhi is an ideal place to dine, hang out and meet new friends, which is why many expats and locals come here. It is near another beach, Tanjung Bungah.
Also known as “Flower Cape”, Tanjung Bungah has small sandy beaches. The place offers relaxing picnic areas and fishing off the rocks. Cycling is also fun but strolling is not since the beach is rocky.
Next stop is the fishing village of Teluk Bahang. Since this is a traditional fishing village, visitors could get a chance to fish and ride boats with the locals. However, Teluk Bahang is really more famous as a gateway to Penang National Park. Teluk Bahang is also the gateway to three other Penang beaches, which are Pantai Kerachut, Muka Head, and Teluk Kampi.
These beaches are secluded from the main tourist areas in the island and there are only two ways to reach them. One is to hire a local fisherman at Teluk Bahang for a boat ride, and two is to take a long 3-4-hour hike from Penang National Park. The hike may be long and difficult but there are amazing scenery along the way, through coconut plantations, mangroves and a jungle. Once, there, the difficult journey is worth it.
Penang is really best known for Georgetown, medical tourism, 19th Century temples, colonial landmarks, modern structures, mountains and gardens, sights and sounds, its industries, food and the very friendly Penangites. However, swimming and other water sports in Penang also prove that its beaches could compete with the best beaches in Asia.