After a few days in gorgeous Tioman Island we made our way further up the east coast of peninsular Malaysia to another island of paradise, Pulau Kapas. Kapas has the usual elements of a tropical island (beautiful beaches, clear warm water, and humid jungles) but unlike many of the tourist buzzing islands Kapas is quiet, minimal, and offers an excellent place to relax.
There are only a handful of bungalow resorts, fewer restaurants, and one dive shop on the island. All of the facilities are located along one side of the island and take up only a small portion of the long stretch of beach. Walkways with stairs make it easy to access further beaches that are separated by large rocks and boulders, and if you take the time to hop a few beaches over you would have the entire place to yourself. We hung our hammock up in the bungalow balcony and literally put our feet up to relax for a few days.
The snorkeling off of the adjacent beaches was busy with aquatic activity, and it was easy to loose track of time and drift slowly further down the island to explore new reefs. While snorkeling we encountered a young black reef tip shark, blue spotted sting ray, moray eel, and hundreds of small fish that inhabited the coral reef. Another backpacker suggested we try an area near the jetty that did not have any corals or fish, but often had sea turtles in the late afternoon. It happened to be late afternoon when we got this advice and so headed out immediately to try and glimpse a turtle. We swam around a bit scanning the sea floor and eventually spotted a small turtle munching on the sea weeds 20 feet below. We ooh-ed and aahh-ed at its silhouette from the surface until it came up for a breath – right between us! Less then a few feet away it took a fresh gulp of air and paused to investigate us before returning to the sea floor lunch buffet.
The diving all took place within a five to seven minutes boat ride from the island and often around a nearby island called Gem island. As we glided along the bottom of the ocean, crowded with different shapes and sizes of corals, we were visited by a large school of shimmering barracudas. Two small reef sharks made a brief appearance during a dive but quickly swam out of visible distance, and crown of thorn sea stars were frequent.
We were tempted to extend our stay at Kapas Island having been won over by the laid back and secluded atmosphere, but had more places to see than time to see them and needed to continue up the coast. We said goodbye to our potentially future retirement island and returned to the mainland to acquire tickets to the Perhentian Islands.