This story about the Bukit Batu Putih Hike at Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson is written by one of our contributors, Nicholas Wong. Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
It didn’t take long for domestic tourism to find its legs again after interstate travel restrictions were lifted in Malaysia. My spouse and I had actually snagged a pretty good deal at Grand Lexis Port Dickson before the coronavirus pandemic began, but with everything that’s happened, we put a rain check on this all the way up until early August this year (shout out to the hotel for allowing us to postpone our stay this long).
I hadn’t been to Port Dickson for over a decade or two before this, but the beaches seemed more pristine and the ocean was a more pleasant share of turquoise than I remember. However, it was extremely busy - no doubt due to our national borders being closed for the moment. I’m glad we made the decision to hike through Tanjung Tuan during our trip here - it’s a slightly less beaten path off the usual haunts that one usually visits during a trip to Port Dickson.
Tanjung Tuan & the Cape Rachado Lighthouse
Tanjung Tuan was originally named Cape Rachado by the Portuguese in the 16th century and is actually considered part of the state of Malacca, though technically it’s an exclave as it’s geographically surrounded by Negeri Sembilan and is accessible via Port Dickson. The area is home to the Cape Rachado Lighthouse - said to be the oldest lighthouse in Malaya. Built around the early 16th century, it's been reconstructed a couple of times since and currently houses an active MEASAT radar. The cape is also a relatively popular birdwatching destination - it's a stopover site for migratory birds that come from as far as Northern China and parts of Russia.
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To get there, you’ll need to head to the entrance of the Tanjung Tuan Recreational Forest. It’s pretty easy to find on Google Maps or Waze. The gate to the park entrance is just across the road from PNB Ilham Resort. Parking is available along the street, though the roads are not in the best condition and I hear it can get pretty busy on weekends and public holidays. Just past the gate, there’s a small building where visitors have to pay an RM1 entrance fee per person to enter.
There’s a public toilet near the entrance but there aren’t any beyond that point, so you might want to settle your business here or be forced to answer nature’s call amongst the trees later on. From the entrance, it's about a 20-minute uphill walk on winding tarmac roads all the way up to the Cape Rachado Lighthouse. There are sheds with benches along the way and it’s pretty sheltered by the trees.
While members of the public aren’t permitted into the lighthouse compound itself, you can wander around the area for a few small lookout points overlooking the ocean. The trailhead for Denai Bukit Batu Putih starts only a few metres away from the steps of the lighthouse and is marked by a sign.
On the trail proper, you’ll find some informative signage put up by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks about the migratory birds that stop over at Tanjung Tuan and their journeys across the continent.
The hike will take about half an hour across undulating terrain. The dirt trail isn’t difficult and is clearly marked so you should have no trouble finding your way.
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You’ll know you’re getting close when you can see and hear the ocean beyond the trees on both sides - the trail runs along a quartz ridge flanked by the sea.
Near the end of the trail, you’ll find the eponymous white rocky outcrop that lends the Denai Bukit Batu Putih trail its name. This requires some scrambling to get up but it’s not a difficult climb as there’s plenty of reliable hands-and-footholds. Rock climbers will feel at ease here, but it could be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated. There’s also a pretty thick rope that’s tethered to the top, but I’d advise not to rely on it as I’m not sure of its condition.
Once you reach the summit, you're rewarded with an impressive view overlooking the Straits of Malacca. Bear in mind that there isn’t any shade up here so it can get pretty hot depending on the time of day - but the view’s definitely worth it.
It’s an extremely photogenic spot which looks pretty great from the air, too!
Once you’re done, you’ll need to go back down the way you came. From there, you can make your way back to the lighthouse, and then head back down to the entrance of the park.
P.S. Can't get enough of nature? Be sure to check out these nature retreats in Malaysia!
What to Bring & Things to Note
- Given its proximity to the ocean, the humidity is generally much higher than hiking trails further inland. This means you’ll lose water faster through sweat - I’d suggest bringing extra drinking water.
- I would recommend comfortable athletic clothing as you’ll be sweating a lot.
- Well-fitting trail shoes are useful especially for the scrambling at the end but everyday joggers should also be fine.
- The Tanjung Tuan Recreational Forest opens from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Even though it’s facing west, I don’t think you’ll be able to catch the sunset and then make it back to the entrance after dark before it closes.
- I heard this area gets quite busy on weekend mornings, so plan accordingly.
- I also heard there might be Muslim-owned stalls selling snacks and drinks near the entrance on weekends, but I can’t verify this as I was there on a weekday.
- From the lighthouse, there are also other trails in the area that go down to the beach. Unfortunately, we couldn’t explore these due to time constraints.
- Disappointingly, you may find a bit of litter along the trail. If you can, try to bring a plastic bag for rubbish and collect the litter (or your own rubbish if you happen to bring any snacks, etc. up) you find along the way, then dispose of it in the trash bins when you return to the entrance. Hike safely and responsibly.
You can find out more about Nick's travel adventures on his Instagram @niwongcm and Youtube channel.
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