Pulau Dayang Bunting
And Lake of the Pregnant Maiden
About Pulau Dayang Bunting
Dayang Bunting is the second largest island in Langawi's cluster of 99 islands. It's located south of the main island, and can easily be reached by a boat. So why is this island so famous? The literal meaning of its name is 'Island of Pregnant Maiden'. And it has a wonderful large fresh water lake (known as Lake Guillemard) surrounded by hills having dense rain forests. The lake too is known as Lake of the Pregnant Maiden.
The legend says that a man named Mat Teja met and fell in love with the princess Mambang Sari at the lake. They eventually married and the princess gave birth to a son. However their son did not live long and soon died. Having reconciled with their misfortune, they decided to lay their son in the water of the lake and allow him to rest in peace. The gracious princess also blessed all women having difficulty in conceiving a child. They would become fertile once they take a dip into the water of the lake.
Pulau Dayang Bunting & The Lake. See the hill forming shape of a pregnant woman
Photo: Metku, flickr, cc by 2.0
Although not proven scientifically, this remains as a strong belief within the locals. To add to the mystery that surrounds the island and the lake, if you take a look at the hills that forms the backdrop of the lake, from an angle it looks like as if a woman is lying on her back and the belly bulging out like that of a pregnant woman.
An amazing thing about the lake is, although it lies very close to the sea and separated by only a thing strip of rocks, it is a fresh water lake. Once you reach the island, there is a narrow jetty and then a concrete narrow pathway that leads up to the hills through the forest. After about 8-10 minutes of climb along steps on the hill, there are some 100 steps that leads down to the beautiful lake on the other side of the hill.
The lake has deep blue waters. As you walk through the pathway, be careful about the monkeys. They do not usually reach any harm or attack you. But if you carry food or packets, monkeys are likely to pounce and snatch them away. So do not carry any food or drinks with you, neither try to feed the monkeys. They may still look at you curiously, but won't create any problems.
Stepped walkway to the lake
Photo: Cheon Fong Liew, flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
The lake and the surrounding area is part of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park. This is one of the three geoparks of Langkawi with great limestone formations, marbles and unique geological features. The park has several caves. In fact the lake itself has resulted from a large underwater cave, the surface of which collapsed and later got filled with water.
Photo: Mohd Khairul Hakimi Abdul Wahab, cc by 3.0
What to see & do at Dayang Bunting island?
There are actually several attractions and activities here. A large map is put up on a board marking all the attractions available at Bunting Island. Here are the main ones:
The lake is great for swimming. There are designated areas (pontoons) for swimming though. However watch out the depth. Average depth is about 10 meters and there is no shallow area. It's not meant for novices. There are no changing rooms. So if you plan to swim, come wearing a swimming suit inside and carry towels. If you are not confident, take a life jacket from the stall next to the lake and float around. The stall also sells other souvenir and gift items. The water at the lake is unaffected by seawater and therefor good for swimming. However it may not be very clear.
Pontoons for swimming, Dayang Bunting
Photo: Emran Kassim, flickr, cc by 2.0
Take a solar operated paddle boat or a kayak available on rent and boat around the scenic lake. Mangrove swamps surround the perimeter of the island and the lake. We love the solar operated paddle boats as you hardly tire as you boat around. The view of the hills surrounding the lake is awesome.
Solar powered boats. Photo: cktravels, shutterstock
Close to the stall, a separate water area has large number of catfish. So just dip your legs, soak in the scenic views and enjoy a natural fish spa on your legs for few minutes. It's a great feeling!.
There is a boardwalk that goes around the lake (for about half way). Take a walk along this pathway and enjoy the magnificent views of the lake from various points.
The boardwalk goes through the mangrove forest. There are over 90 species of birds here including hornbill, kingfisher, woodpecker, kite, drongo etc. The animal life includes monkeys, large number of insects and monitor lizards. You will find many colorful butterflies as well.
Boardwalk, Dayang Bunting
Photo: Faizal Riza MOHD RAF, flickr, cc by-nc 2.0
At the end of the board walk, you will reach a point called the "Miracle Border". Here you are close to the border between the lake and the sea. In fact you can see both the lake and the sea on two sides separated by a thin ridge of rocks. Although the lake is only some 30 meters away from the sea, the water of the lake is not salty at all (like in the sea). That is the miracle this point signifies.
How to visit Bunting island & Lake of the Pregnant Maiden?
Bunting Island is about 17.6 kms away from Kuah Town towards south.
From Pantai Tengah
, it takes about 20 minutes to reach by a boat.
There are many Island Hopping Boat Tours that operate from Teluk Baru Jetty located at the southern end of Pantai Tenga. Dayang Bunting Island is one of the scheduled stops in an Island Hopping tour where they drop you to enjoy the attractions for about 1 hour before proceeding to the next stop.
You can go down to Teluk Baru Jetty and take a tour. These tours generally operate on a shared basis with per person rate ranging between (RM35 - RM50) depending on the season. You can also take a full boat if you are in a group of 8 or more. It turns out to be cheaper. There are boats for 8 and 12 persons. The Island Hopping tours usually start in the morning (at 10am) and the entire tour lasts for about 3.5 hours.
During the season, I recommend that you book the tour in advance through a tour agent. There are plenty of them in Pantai Cenang & Pantai Tengah areas. Almost all hotels in Langkawi also offer the Island Hopping Tours as this is one of the most common and popular boat tours. Several agents provide pick up & drop services from/to the hotel. There are of course several great private boat & yacht charters that offer a private tour to the island as well. However they would be far more expensive.
Some points to note
As I mentioned earlier, do not carry food (at least openly) and invite the monkeys. They can snatch almost anything that they see you carrying.
It's a bit of a hike up the mountain (about 10 minutes) from the jetty and then down to the lake. So if you have mobility issues or have accompanying small children, then I won't recommend this attraction.
Effective February 1, 2015 an entry fee for visitors (RM5 for adults and RM3 for children) has been introduced. No entry fee for Langkawi residents though.
Location of Dayang Bunting
Map location of Pulau Dayang Bunting
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