What’s a hike without sweat and tears, and a beautiful beach at the end of it? Okay, just kidding. There weren’t any tears but it was a gruelling but rewarding 90-minute journey.
Going to the Pantai Kerachut beach at the Penang National Park on Jan 11, 2015 was my last hiking trip. I’m usually excited and very gung-ho before going on a hike, even more so when there’s a beautiful, serene beach to enjoy at the end.
Truth be told, I have only hiked in the forests in Penang and always to the beaches of Pantai Kerachut and Monkey Beach. To get to those trails, you would need to start at the Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang.
If you don’t want to go trouble of trekking through the forest, you can opt for the boat ride to both beaches for a fee. That aside, to finally see the sandy beaches and big, blue sea after two hours of gruelling hiking is a priceless moment that I’d want to experience over and over.
And off we go to Pantai Kerachut!
It was a sunny morning and my partner-in-crime, Andrew and I enjoyed a good breakfast before heading over to the park. We began our journey at around 9.50am. Before that, we registered our names and jotted down the time of our departure at the park’s counter. We’d need to sign off again upon returning from the hike.
I brought a backpack with me (not in the picture because Andrew was carrying it for me) filled with water bottles, sunscreen and snacks. We learnt to bring snacks this time because on previous hikes, we found that we’d be hungry upon reaching the beach. That is definitely not a good feeling especially after an exhausting two hours of hiking.
Interesting pit stops along the way
Along the trail, you’d come across signboards displaying information related to the forest. For example, one board encouraged hikers to enjoy the forest through the jungle orchestra of birds chirping, frogs croaking, cicadas singing and the breeze rubbing gently against the tree limbs. Really, that’s what was written!
One fascinating feature was about a passage known as the Dug-out Hill or Bukit Belah in Malay. According to the information board, that passage was the route used for buffaloes to pull out the timber. And since the original hill made it difficult to carry out this task, the lumberjacks ‘split’ the hill into two using only hoes.
According to one version of this local tale, it took only seven people to split the hill in 10 days.
Do look out for the ‘fiery rocks’. Apparently, some of the rocks in one part of the forest had once melted at a temperature of about 1,300 degrees Celsius deep inside the Earth’s crust millions of years ago. The two main types of rocks visible are igneous and sedimentary rocks.
These signboards were actually an excuse for us to stop and take a break while we glanced through the information. I snapped pictures of the boards to read them later. It was too much effort to read then because I was too busy wiping off my sweat!
The distance markers were also helpful and encouraging as it gave us hope that we’re getting closer to the beach.
Finally, we’re at the beach!
We finally spotted the beach and arrived there at around 11.20am. Before stepping on the beach, you’ll pass a meromictic lake, which is of a rare kind due to its two layers of salt and fresh water that do not mix.
Once you get on the soft sand, it’s time to find a shady spot, rest and drink in the serene surrounding. That is itself a blissful reward to savour as much as I could because it isn’t everyday that I get to sit on the beach and look out at the sea.
Further up the beach is the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Centre where you can learn more about the local turtle conservation efforts. The staff there would make sure that the newly hatched baby turtles make it out to the open sea safely.
When we were done exploring and well rested, we set off for the almost two-hour hike back to the park’s entrance.
I should go hiking more often. It’s an opportunity to exercise, engage with Mother Nature and well, to be in the outdoors and breathe in the fresh air, something that is lacking in the city.
Here are some of the park’s rules to remember:
- Do not take, catch, break or extract any wildlife, flora or fauna or natural resources of the park (unless authorised research purposes).
- No littering.
- Do not draw graffiti or vandalise any tree, building or structure in the park.
- No burning or making any unnecessary fire.
- Do not make any unacceptable noise.
- No feeding any wildlife especially the monkeys.
- Do not cut any trees for camping, building campfire or for any other purposes.
- Firearms, firecrackers or any explosives are not allowed in the park.
- Do not conduct nature guiding without a license or permission from the park’s superintendent.
Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park)
Jalan Hassan Abbas
11050 Teluk Bahang
Tel: 04-881 3500
Have you hiked or sat a boat to Pantai Kerachut before? What are your favourite hiking places? Do share your hiking stories and tips or recommend great places to hike and trek. I’m all ears!