Penang Island's Best Beach: Batu Ferringhi
Quiet secluded beaches are hard to find in Penang.
On the other hand, if you are looking for high-energy activities with plenty of excitement and thrills, the beach at Batu Ferringghi, is world class.
The most popular activities include:
- Jetski rides
- Towed inflatables
- Beach volleyball
This is also a very long beach with beautiful sands. I reckon it is the best beach in Penang for a walk in the cool of the morning, or as the sun sets.
Parasailing, similar to paragliding, is the most spectacular activity available at Batu Ferringhi.
A high speed powerboat tows a specially designed parachute which lifts riders into the air.
There is no need to worry about special clothing or equipment. You take off from the beach and land right back in the same spot so there is no chance of getting wet (except for a little spray).
The first time I tried this activity myself, the guy who helped during takeoff was shouting like crazy in my ear. The problem was that I started to panic as soon as I felt my feet lift off the ground! I only relaxed when the glider stopped rising, at about a hundred meters. Then I was able to enjoy the views across the Malacca Strait, and, inland, to the mountains of Penang.
I only panicked again when the boat brought us back to the shore and I started to descend.
The guy was shouting like crazy, again, and this time I realized he was telling me to pull some ropes to steer the parasail.
Once I realized that I un-panicked again and landed as gracefully as a hummingbird. Well, I thought so anyway!
Second time in the air and I had a lot more fun.
So my advice is:
- do not panic...
- And listen to the guy shouting in your ear.
Beaches in SE Asia have a bad rep for safety. Mixing paragliders with swimmers, mixing alcohol with power boats... These things can have bad outcomes.
Fortunately, the local authorities take these issues seriously and Batu Ferringhi is Penang's best beach for safety.
Each area of the beach has a single, designated activity to reduce accidents and only reputable companies can operate.
My only complaint is the size of those few areas designated for swimming. They are tiny! This is the Indian Ocean but you are only allowed to swim in roped off areas of fifty meters across!
One of the pleasures of visiting Penang is that it is very unusual for anyone to try to rip you off.
At Batu Ferringhi, the prices of the various activities are prominently displayed on government signs.
- A parasailing flight costs 80 RM for one person and 150 RM for 2.
- A jetski ride for 2 is 70 RM for 15 minutes
- Inflatable rides (like 'banana boats'), with a minimum of 4 people, on board cost 25 RM.
The beach is a very good quality. The tide does not go out too far so you do not need to worry too much about the time of day.
The sand is clean, stone free and ideal for many kinds of games.
There are some beach volleyball nets near the Royal Hotel.
A lot of people make their own activities, of course. I have no idea what the teenagers below were doing but they seemed to be enjoying it.
There are deck chairs for hire and several cafes on the beach.
You can also find reflexology and massage stalls. Foot massage costs around 30 RM, which is a bargain if you have just enjoyed a long walk up and down the beach.
Behind the Beach
There is a well developed resort along the coast at Batu Ferringhi.
Large luxury hotels like the Park Royal and Golden Sands have gardens that run right down to the beach.
Inexpensive guest houses can be found nearby with prices of around 50 RM per night for an air con room.
Beach at Batu Ferringhi
How to Get to the beach at Batu Ferringhi
There is a bus that will drop you right in the middle of the resort. The 101 runs through the heart of Georgetown, starting at the bus station of Weld Quay. Prices from Georgetown are about 1.5 RM.
You will know when to get off the bus when you see the Golden Sands Resort. Follow the crowd to find a way to the beach. It is not far, but hotels have grabbed most of real estate between the road and sea and only a few alleyways are left for access.
A taxi will cost you around 50 RM from Georgetown. You should be prepared to negotiate. One of the few irritations of Penang is that drivers do not like using the meters in their taxis.
Eating at Batu Ferringhi
On the beach itself, there are a few, small cafes offering snacks.
Street vendor stalls, in the alley running down to the beach, offer more substantial snacks with noodles for as little as 4 RM.
At night, many restaurants put on a spectacular show. The glitzy 'Golden Thai' seafood restaurant, pictured below, is unmissable, as is the 'Ship Restaurant' on the beach front,
A Few other Pictures
The beach is pretty photogenic and so here are a few more of my favorite snaps...