If Hollywood has its sign on a hill, Kuantan has its own version at the banks of the 500-year-old mangrove forest reserve at Sungai Kuantan.
Fishing boats are in different colours to identify their State origins.
Anglers taking advantage of Sungai Kuantan’s abundant wealth.

Take a cruise along Sungai Kuantan to see much of what the city has to offer, writes

Zalina Mohd Som

IT may not have colourful, quaint 16th Century buildings lining the river bank but the Kuantan River Cruise has something that puts everyone onboard at the edge of their seats — crocodiles!

Sungai Kuantan, the peninsula’s longest river, runs through Kuantan and is known for estuarine crocodiles which put the capital city and the river in the limelight.

According to the State Wildlife and National Parks Department, there are dozens of crocodiles in the river, based on the number of sightings and reports lodged.

But don’t worry. Only if Lady Luck is on your side will you spot the elusive reptile.

ANCIENT BEAUTY

The crocodile is not all Sungai Kuantan has to offer. Take the sunset or night cruise and you get to see more as the riverine wildlife make their way back to their nests or come out to hunt.

When the sun paints the sky with twilight colours, the sky is filled with birds such as sea eagles and herons as well as insects such as bugs and fireflies. If it’s low tide, you may even see otters at the water edge. But life along the river changes as the sun moves from east to west.

For those who prefer to see activities in mid-morning, the first cruise is the perfect way to start the day.

The 11am cruise is the best time for photography. Along the route, there are colourful fishing boats, picturesque village houses and the 500-year-old mangrove forest.

Home to varieties of estuarine plants, birds and fish, the mangrove forest reserve spreads along Sungai Kuantan, covering 340 hectares.

There was a boardwalk that allowed visitors to walk in the swamp for a closer look at its eco-system but unfortunately it was shut down.

OUT TO SEA

From the jetty, the cruise moves 10km upstream to the fishing port of Lembaga Kemajuan Ikan Malaysia (Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia), passing through Kampung Peramu before making a U-turn and then heading for open sea.

On its way back, the catamaran cruises close to the mangrove forest, moving under the majestic Tanjung Lumpur Bridge to the mouth of Sungai Kuantan which is lined with fishing villages.

As the catamaran cruises downstream, one cam see the city of Kuantan. Though it doesn’t have historic buildings like heritage Malacca or the skyscrapers of Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan is not lacking in charm.

Even from the boat, one can feel the bustling vibe of the city, yet it is also laid-back and composed.

Once you’re back at Shahbandar Jetty, don’t drive off just yet. Take a stroll along the Esplanade Benteng Kuantan or, better still, if you’re there during the weekend, join the crowd at the waterfront where a 2km-long night market offers everything from street food to souvenirs and curios.

FAST FACTS

Kuantan River Cruise

Shahbandar Jetty, Jalan Tanah Putih Baru, Kuantan, Pahang

Tel: 011-2575 8033, 09-548 8000 (Bukit Gambang Resort City), 03-8941 9898 (KL Office)

Website: www.bgrc.com.my/bgrc-kuantan-river-cruise

Email: [email protected]

HOW TO GET THERE

Kuantan River Cruise starts from Shahbandar Jetty on the bank of Sungai Kuantan. The jetty is located just beside the modern Kuantan Municipal Council Building opposite Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan.

PRICE

RM28 (adult), RM18 (child) for Esplanade, Sunset and Night cruises. RM88 (adult), RM68 (child) for Firefly Cruise. Foreigners pay different prices.

Operation hours: Esplanade Cruise (11am, 1pm and 3pm). Sunset Cruise (6pm), Night and Firefly Cruises (8pm). Friday only has two Esplanade Cruises at 11am and 3pm. Closed on Wednesday except during school and public holidays.