A little island not more than 20 minutes away by boat
from the sleepy village of Marang, Pulau Kapas (Cotton Island)
basks idyllically as it has for over 270million years. This little
heaven in the South China Sea and just off the Terengganu coast is a
pleasant getaway for the locals during weekends. During the weekdays,
it can be surprisingly quiet as throngs of visitors
depart home to their 9-to-5 jobs and businesses.
Pulau Kapas is a small island, just over 2km long
and 1km at its widest point. Since it is so close - only 6km f
rom the mainland, v isitors seldom stay overnight.
For those who prefer to spend a longer time on the island,
there are a variety of accommodations available on the island best suited to most
travelers although non rivaling exclusive resorts such as 'Banyan Tree' or the '
Aman' resort establishments. The resorts here provide satisfactory amenities
and service which of course, the price of a night's accommodation will commensurate with.
Most resorts are clustered together on two strips of white sandy beaches
facing the mainland, whereas the rest of the island is largely forested
harboring lots of small mammals, birds, insects and reptiles.
On the edges of the island, colorful reefs extend out into
the deep, blue sea where a host of marine life continues to build
and live in these rich , exuberant gardens of the sea. Pulau Kapas
began to take shape some 270million years ago when the
sea level was way below what it is now. Over a long period of time,
sedimentation from the land was washed out into the sea,
adding layer upon layer, which then formed a strip of elevated land .
Eventually this area formed into an island and seeds and pollens
that drifted along with the wind and the sea, settled on the drier
grounds, giving life to a complete ecosystem as we see on Pulau Kapas today.
The coral reef probably started its life in
the early beginnings of Pulau Kapas. It is this
beauty that for so many years people have come to enjoy.
As a marine park, the coral reefs and its marine inhabitants
have been given full protection from any adverse activity that
may destroy their habitat, and that includes fishing.
With such foresight from the local authorities, the reefs are left
in its pristine state that host an abundance of beautiful coral inhabitants
such as the parrotfish, pufferfish, angelfish, damselfish; eels; giant clams;
rays, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and nudibranchs. This is the place to really
indulge in snorkelling. There is a wonderful snorkelling spot around
the rocky outcrops just to the southern end of the long stretch of beach.
The water here is shallow and it is best to wear a lifejacket.
In some places the water level at low tide may only
be as shallow as 2 feet. There is just so much to see
around that snorkellers often lose track of direction and may
get trapped in the shallow ends. When this happens, they often panic
and start trashing about and usually try to stand up in the process.
This is dangerous as the seabed is covered with extremely sharp corals
and can cause deep wounds. The other danger to look out
for are the sea urchins hiding in and around the corals.
The thorny spines of the sea urchin can
pierce through delicate skin, believe it - it's excruciating!