Pulau Besar – Interesting Facts


Pulau Besar Interesting Facts is a new addition to my Things You Didn’t Know Series.

Pulau Besar, a tiny mystical island in the southern part of Malaka Strait and main of Perhentian Islands.

A place full of mysteries and confusions. It is not the top destination to visit in Malaysia, neither an interesting site the local will tell you about. It is something completely different from traditional touristic experience.

A hidden pearl we found completely by chance and now want to share with you.

If you wonder what to do in Malacca visiting Pulau Besar haunted island is one of the musts for sure!

Melaka Pulau Besar Interesting Facts

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

1. Pulau Besar – an abandoned 5-star hotel island

Back in the 1990s when the large business started coming to Malaysia, many foreign investors set their eyes on Pulau Besar.

A tiny island, located not far from the western coast of Malaysia. One of the key touristic destinations of the region of Malacca.

They quickly signed an agreement with the Malaysian government, consequently, they could use the island for touristic purposes for the next 50 years or so.

The investors hired a super-expensive Italian star architect, as a result, it looks like a small European paradise on the Malaysian island.

The winding streets, narrow houses with French windows, luxury restaurants, and stylish shops were creating the atmosphere of the Mediterranean Riviera.

Nevertheless, the hotel existed for just 5 years. The powerful religious lobby in the Malaysian government persuaded the incumbents that the hotel was offending the feelings of the Hindu and Muslim pilgrims who came to the island every year to pray and find absolution.

As a result, the hotel management had to move out from the island. Leaving behind the expensive furniture and mattresses, cutlery and linens, small fully functional electricity station, and even water in the swimming pools.

Did you know that Pulau Besar is an abandoned 5-star hotel island? #huntedislandClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

2. Pulau Besar is the sacred island, full of saints’ tombs

The reason why the big business had to leave the island, is the high concentration of Hindu and Muslim sacred sites. The most important one is the tomb of Sultan Ariffin. Currently surrounded by the metal cage, presumably for preservation.

In fact, all tombs on the island are not very impressive, you won’t see magnificent shrines or breathtaking temples. The majority of tombs look just like small grass spots, highlighted by a couple of white stones.

There is also a so-called well of wealth. It looks like a really dirty hole with water on the bottom. According to the legend, if you dive deep enough you will find uncountable golden coins there. I guess the look and the smell of the well are the reason number one why the previous visitors of the island did not become rich.

Pulau Besar is the sacred island, full of saints’ tombs. #pulaubesarfactsClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

3. Forbidden to stay overnight

For some inexplicable reason, it is forbidden to sleep on the island. The captain which takes you to the island on the small motorboat is responsible for taking you back in the evening and it looks like he is taking his duty seriously.

This rule looks particularly ridiculous if to take into consideration that there is one guest house on the island (with very unfriendly hosts), a small tent camp where pilgrims live, and the huge abandoned hotel, presidential suits of which are populated by some homeless teenagers.

In addition, a small museum right next to the harbour allows staying in one of its exhibition rooms for $100 per night (one more joke we didn’t feel like laughing at).

Forbidden to stay overnight? #wherecanyousleepClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

4. There is expensive household stuff everywhere

The whole island looks like some weird department of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You can find stacks of unpacked soap, floor lamps, mattresses, and armchairs getting rotten in the tropical forest all around the island. The former hotel reception looks totally abandoned, but you can still see luxury interior design inside.

The most horrible part is that the pilgrims who live on the island do not take advantage of all this abundance of super comfortable stuff. They sleep on the ground in the DIY tents, made of plastic sheets.

The white linens, pillows, and blankets lay right outside under the bushes. Why? We do not know and found it the quirkiest among all Pulau Besar interesting facts.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond seems to be all over the place #goodmarketing hahaClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

5. Golf courses everywhere

The hotel was supposed to become a golf resort and its developers made everything possible to create the best golf course in South East Asia.

The major golf course has 18 holes and covers the whole western part of the island. There are also several private golf courses with huge villas located here and there. These were supposed to become the most expensive lodging on the island.

The most amazing thing is that the golf courses have not overgrown! They have the same nice green colour and soft texture they had on the hotel’s opening night. Biggest mystery among all Pulau Besar interesting facts.

We’ve got no idea how that happened, but if you are into sports, you can easily find lots of golf balls all around the place and borrow the golf irons in one of the villas.

Pulau Besar is an island of golf courses #mustvisistforgolfentusiastsClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

6. Street lights are always on

On Pulau Besar, street lights are always switched on. Nobody can explain why, but my assumption is that the locals do not know how to operate the electric station, built by the hotel.

These street lights make the place look haunted, especially when combined with empty Italian-style streets, abandoned restaurants, and broken windows.

The island is very silent and empty, so you feel like on another planet. If you tend to pay attention to multiple notices with the depiction of armed people, Pulau Besar might be too scary for you to visit.

Street lights are always on? #weirdfactsaboutpulaubesarClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

7. Local people look dangerous, but they are very friendly

All the people you are going to meet at Pulau Besar look strange. It’s quite logical if to take into consideration that they are homeless (they live in the hotel’s ruins and tents), do not have access to clean water, shower, good food, and electricity (even though there is a functioning electric station there!) Nevertheless, all of them are eager to help.

At first, we were scared when two huge men offered to walk us into the wood to show the well of wealth. But they were friendly and helpful, so it was a great lesson for us to trust people more.

Looks can often be dismissive, don't judge the book by its cover, as they sayClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

8. The sea is dirty, you cannot swim

We headed to Pulau Besar with hope to swim in the transparent water of Malacca Strait. We couldn’t be wrong more! The whole shore of the island is surrounded by trash, which is the result of the active pilgrimage to this place.

The former beach of the hotel has turned into a real landfill. And it doesn’t look like the place will be cleaned in the nearest future. That is the saddest among Pulau Besar interesting facts!

Swimming is a big no-no in Pulau Besar #sadnewsClick To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

9. You can find nice food and drinks on the island

Despite the fact that the place is abandoned, you can still find a small food court on the island, run by a local family. We cannot call their food delicious, but it is a decent place to eat in a place with no other options.

They serve fried chicken and rice, as well as water and coke. There are also lots of wild fruit trees and banana bushes growing everywhere.

Don't worry about food and drinks, you won't starve on this hunted and deserted island. Click To Tweet

Pulau Besar - Interesting Facts

10. Nature is gorgeous on Pulau Besar

The hotel administration wanted to create a marvellous botanic garden for the guests to have long romantic walks. The hotel is not in operation anymore.

Yet tropical gardens continue to grow, making this tiny island an attractive habitat for a variety of birds and butterflies.

The flowers have also gone wild and now decorate the planes which used to be the golf course. This is a true paradise for bird and insect watchers.

Pulau Besar is one of its kind. This unique religion-business conflict shows what happens to the place too many people visit. From the touristic perspective, it is an extremely interesting place to visit.

We highly recommend to check it out anyone going to Malacca region!

Nature is gorgeous on Pulau Besar, that is a win! #naturetakesoverClick To Tweet

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Illia and Nastia are passionate about each other, travelling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com. A blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 42 countries on 5 continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their website to learn more about unexplored destinations. And do check their latest story about how to travel in Asia for 2 euro per day.

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Cheers, Marysia


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12 thoughts on “Pulau Besar – Interesting Facts

  1. Chris

    Wow, I remember going to Pular Babi Besar in the 80s for wilderness survival training and it was extremely desolate. There was one abandon resort on the island that had crude running water, but no electricity. I guess there are local tribes and latex workers on the island because I saw signs of people, but even after going on many mile treks never encountered anyone outside of our group. I lived on the island for weeks off of natural spring water, coconuts, fruits, nuts, fish, crabs, snakes, birds, etc the island was abundant with resources. The water was dirty but tolerable except for all the trash that used to wash ashore. Mayalsians are reknown for not taking care of their parks and natural resources such as Mount Talan and Mount Ophir which were littered with garbage. We used to get dropped off in a relatively remote part of the island have traveled across many beaches and even to the highest point of the island without encountering any other people. I am sure that things have changed in the last 35+ years.

  2. Kat

    I’m just curious. The photos in the pin aren’t of Pulau Besar then? Since you said the sea is dirty. If so, that’s too bad because it seems so interesting. :(

    • Kat the pictures are from Pulau Besar (just edited and made at the right time) but yes the water is dirty close to the island, thanks to tourists who behave as they behave. I do not think it is a place to visit for pristine beach holidays, rather as something to see and experience when you are in the area!
      Marysia recently posted…Colours of Winter in Dolomites, ItalyMy Profile

  3. Jacob

    Love the golf course image. Did you get to play on it?

  4. Ratheesh R Nath

    Loved the way you described this island. Thanks for sharing such excellent photos of Pulau Besar.

  5. April Yap

    Staying overnight in the island of Palau was unforgettable experience also, I love the ambiance of the island.

  6. Nirosha Sharma

    Wanted to visit Pulau Besar this time for sure. Such a lovely place, Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m sure you gonna love it!

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