If ever you’re in Kota Bharu and want to visit a beach, head to Pantai Cahaya Bulan, literally translated to Moonlight Beach.
There are several alternative modes of transport to get there – by taxi, bus or if you’re in no hurry and are willing to pay a premium and help an honest man make a living, hop onto a tricycle.
It is way too far to walk being 11 km away from Kota Bharu.
You will pass a few villages along the way – Kampung Banggol, Kampung Kijang and Peng Chepa. There were shops selling batik material, songket (the traditional male Malay headwear) and guava juice stalls.
The people of Kelantan are a friendly, welcoming lot and as a tourist, be prepared to receive lots of waves, smiles and “hello uncle/aunty” greetings along the way.
After about 45 minutes by tricycle, you will arrive at the beach. If you’re there on a weekday, you will find that the beach is virtually devoid of people and that most of the beachfront restaurants are closed up.
The beach only becomes a hive of activity during the weekends and on school holidays. A word of caution though – there was not a taxi in sight either.
The 1.5km long beach itself was okay. The sand quality was fine and the water seemed clean although not picture-postcard blue.
The trees (palms and casuarinas) were set back some distance and there was no shade on the beach itself.
This coastline is prone to sand erosion and a rough sea wall of boulders was put in place to help protect the beach.
The sea here is calm enough but there can be dangerous currents in the monsoon season, which is from November to December. Unfortunately, there is no life guard on duty.
The only restaurants and food stalls that were open were selling mostly fried seafood on sticks.
The trip by tricycle to Pantai Cahaya Bulan cost around RM30 one-way, so a round trip would cost RM60 and some extra as a tip.
Quite an expensive trip if you look at it from the dollars and cents perspective but it is one of those cases where the journey is more memorable than the destination.
If you want a beach all to yourself and do not mind the lack of shade, Pantai Cahaya Bulan is a good place to spend the day.
Maybe the beach looks magical at night when it is awash with moonlight, but if you’re there only during the day, you might be inclined to think there are better beaches elsewhere in Malaysia.
How to get to Pantai Cahaya Bulan
A bus ride will take about 20 minutes. If you are driving yourself take route D1 all the way from Kota Bharu. Some maps indicate Pantai Cahaya Bulan as the Beach of Passionate Love, so bear in mind that it’s one and the same beach.
Beach of Passionate Love, or Pantai Cinta Berahi, used to be the old name for this beach but was changed by the conservative government running Kelantan to something less suggestive.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com