6 Attractions on Pulau Aman
September 1, 2014
Pulau Aman, once a pirate shelter off Penang, still holds secrets, including a bounty of pristine shores and secluded eateries grilling up seafood fresh. Story and photos by Marco Ferrarese.
Published on Sep 1, 2014
When the busy streets of George Town fray the nerves, there's a little-known oasis afloat between Penang and the southern coast of Seberang Perai. Pulau Aman ("peaceful island") is so small that even most folks who live nearby are unaware of its serene shores. Yet, it's a quick bumboat ride from Batu Musang jetty, the mainland and modernity. Home to a community of about 300 fishermen, Aman's quaint, car-free lanes offer timeless tropical bliss.
The peaceful island
It wasn't always thus, for the short stretch of sea separating Pulau Aman from the uninhabited former pirate's cove of Pulau Gedung was once a dangerous buccaneer's sea lane. Visit by bumboat and hike to the top of the hill near  Batu Perompak ("pirate's rock") to see the gravesite of pirate chief Panglima Garang, pairing spooky history with sterling views. Unwind with a fishing excursions—the offshore platforms are perfect for immersing yourself in the local fishermen's life.
Aman's compact size and idyllic environment make it a pleasure to walk or cycle; rental bikes are available at the jetty. A hiking path to the top of a forested hill reveals panoramas stretching to Penang. The quirky  Golden Well is another worthwhile attraction; dug in 1789, it's a seaside freshwater source in which a legendary villager found a golden vase.
The quintessential Pulau Aman experience, however, is to kick back in front of a clear ocean view and savor mouth-watering seafood. With its gracious wooden veranda on stilts overlooking the bay,  Restoran Terapung (120 Pulau Aman, Simpang Empat; +60 19 476 6125) specializes in prawns served with mee kuah, nasi goreng or fried koay teow. Fresh mantis prawns, the islet's signature catch, are plucked live from tanks and cooked to order. For a choice of Malay dishes on rice, walk along the only coconut tree-shaded alley to homey, family-run  Warung Kak Timah (+60 13 433 4932).
Restoran Terapung view
Though a fine day trip, private chalets and a homestay program are available for overnights.  Koperasi Pelancongan Pulau Pinang (39A Kapitan Sq., Buckingham St., Penang; +60 4 262 2377) or  Pulau Aman Fishermen Association (+60 4 530 7185) can arrange bookings.
Some 300 fishermen live on Pulau Aman