PULAU BESAR – WATER ISLANDS GROUP
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.
This is one of the most strange and interesting islands in the Malacca Strait. Indian muslims (Mamak) consider this ghost-town-like island, a few miles south of the Malacca River entrance, to be a very spiritual place. Visitors are advised to abstain from consuming pork on the eve of their visit and throughout their entire stay here. Ashore there 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 local 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 labeled 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 was built. This caused uproar in the Indian Muslim communities. In 2006, a hall was constructed with private funding from Indian muslim businessmen. The luxury hotel fronting all three beaches was completed, then mysteriously abandoned. It remains vacant and decaying at the time of writing. The golf course is well maintained and has security guards.