95 miles from Singapore
This small group of islands known as the Water Islands Group lies seven miles south of Malacca River and 3 miles west of Anjung Batu Jetty where regular ferries run. Anchor off the long concrete jetty on the northeast of the main island Pulau Besar on sand in 2-3 metres. Keep east of the shallow reef and west of the drying rocks off the small island.
Deeper drafts can anchor in 4-6 metres on sand further south at 2°06.111N, 102°20.520E. New power lines with an unknown mast clearance are reported between the islands and the mainland.
The main island Pulau Besar (Big Island) is a strange and interesting anchorage. Indian Muslims (Mamak) consider this ghost-town-like island, a few miles south of the Malacca River entrance, to be of high spiritual worth. As such, non-Muslim visitors are requested to abstain from consuming pork on the eve of their visit and throughout their entire stay. Ashore is a small museum showcasing the island’s culture, history and spiritual significance – in particular its past role as a resting place for sailors between China and Europe.
Follow the paved road from the jetty uphill to the highest point. Here a large boulder split down the middle named ‘Batu Belah’ is the favourite destination for spiritual pilgrims. There is a cave said to have been the favourite meditation place of a famous Mamak Wali named Yusof and his footprint is supposedly imprinted on the boulder.
In 1997 the Malaysian government labelled rogue spiritual practices on Pulau Besar as deviant. They tore down many buildings that were erected around the mausoleum and a luxury hotel and golf course were built. This caused uproar in the Indian Muslim communities.
In 2006, a hall was constructed with private funding from Indian Malaysian Muslim businessmen. The luxury hotel fronting all three beaches was completed, and then mysteriously abandoned. It remains vacant and decaying at the time of writing.
The golf course is well maintained and has security guards but we’ve never seen anyone playing on it.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
The copyright holders of all content, in print and digital editions, are: Published book © Phuket Publicity Services Ltd. Part. / Texts © Bill O’Leary, Andy Dowden & Grenville Fordham / Design, layout & charts © Grenville Fordham / Photography: © as indicated in photo credits. All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means - graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or otherwise – without the express permission of the publisher, Phuket Publicity Services Limited Partnership, and the other copyright owners.