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Penang Turtle Conservation Centre: how to get there and what to expect

Penang Turtle Conservation Centre: how to get there and what to expect

Penang National Park is one of the major highlights of any visit to the island of Penang, but us humans aren’t the only ones in the know. It’s also a popular spot for Green Sea Turtles and at the Penang Turtle Conservation Centre, you have the opportunity to observe and learn about these amazing creatures.

Often visited as part of a longer day trip to the national park, this guide will help you understand the logistics of your visit, and also gives our honest opinion on the centre and what else to do whilst you are there.

Want to read more about what there is to do in the National Park? Then read our guide to Penang National Park.

Monkey Beach swing

Penang National Park guide

Our comprehensive guide to visiting Penang National Park, including how to get there, what to do, fees, how to get around, and a suggested itinerary.

About Penang Turtle Conservation Centre

Penang Turtle Conservation Centre is managed by the Malaysian State Fisheries Office and was setup to provide information and education to visitors, whilst at the same time helping to conserve turtles and give a helping hand to their hatching process.

The two types of turtle here are the Green and Olive Ridley Turtle.

Where is Penang Turtle Conservation Centre

The Penang Turtle Conservation Centre is located on the western side of Penang National Park. Known colloquially as Turtle Beach, it’s more correctly called Pantai Kerachut.

Click here for Google Maps location.

Entry fees and opening hours

The conservation centre opens at 10am and closes at 4:30pm.

The centre itself is free to enter but to reach here, you’ll need to pay National Park fees at the headquarters located by the main entrance.

For non-Malaysians, the fees are RM50 for adults, RM10 for children aged 3-12, under 3’s are free.

How to get to Penang Turtle Conservation Centre

There are two options for reaching the Turtle Conservation Centre; hire a boat to take you around the island or strap on your trainers and hike through the jungle (approximately 1.5 hours). Check out or guide for hiking to Turtle Beach, which includes step-by-step route instructions. If you do decide to hike, make sure you take plenty of water with you and stick to the well-marked path.

The boat from the park headquarters is the easier/more relaxing option, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the pristine surroundings from the comfort of the boat.

Alternatively, you can hike to Turtle Beach and then get the boat back.

Arrange the boat transfer at one of the stalls just outside the entry gates to the National Park. The boat fee one-way is RM100 and both ways it is RM200. The fee is per boat, not per person, so some travellers like to wait for others to arrive and club together for the boat fee.

If you opt to take the boat, your driver will usually point out various sights including rabbit and crocodile rock, sea eagles, and monkeys. You can also arrange a drop off at Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung).

What to expect from your visit

The turtle conservation centre is showing its age slightly and is perhaps in need of some TLC. To manage your expectations, if you’ve visited other turtle centres around the world, in particular Selingan Island in Borneo, you might initially be slightly disappointed in what you find.

The main section of the centre has a three small water tanks which house two small Green Sea turtles and a bale of baby turtles (we had to Google the collective noun for turtles by the way 😉). It’s all a little underwhelming to be honest, the tanks don’t seem especially well-maintained but it does at least give you a chance to see them up close.

Elsewhere in the centre, there’s a couple of rooms with skeleton displays and information boards, but not a huge amount else to divert your attention. You can buy some water here and fill out the guestbook.

Further along the beach, look out for the fenced-off area and peer through the netting of the hatching area to see where the turtle eggs are buried until they’re ready to hatch. Check out the elaborate system they use to protect the eggs from predators.

Watching turtles being released

It’s possible, with some planning and patience, to watch baby turtles being released into the sea which is a magical experience.

To organise this, email the head office as far in advance as possible to get the ball rolling. The schedule is flexible and subject to change but, in general, the baby turtles are released every two weeks just before sunset.

Visitors aren’t allowed in the national park after dark so it’s essential you arrange for your boat to be waiting for you immediately afterwards so you can head back home.

What facilities are there at Turtle Beach

As it’s a remote beach in the national park, there aren’t (m)any facilities on Turtle Beach. You can buy water at the Conservation Centre and there are toilets further along the beach, but no food.

Bring all the supplies you’ll need with you and make sure you have a bag to take your litter home.

What else is there do to at Turtle Beach?

The beautiful beach, with its uninterrupted sea views is perfect for sunbathing but there’s little in the way of shade so bring plenty of hats and sunblock. However tempting the sea looks, it’s teeming with jellyfish so you’ll need to restrict yourself to just dipping your feet in.

There’s a surprise waiting for you behind the northern end of the beach, in the shape of a meromictic lake. At first glance it might just look like a normal lake but these natural phenomenon are actually incredibly rare, with only a few existing in the whole of Asia. As the saltwater and freshwater don’t mix, two distinct layers are created. It makes for a unique and interesting visit, with the small bridge a good viewpoint.

If you want some exercise, there are a few linear jungle treks signposted from the beach, including a short walk around the lake. Make sure you follow the signs and stick to the paths. It’s best to wear closed shoes as the path is leaf-covered and overgrown in places. Also remember to take water and wear insect repellent.

After your visit to Penang Turtle Conservation Centre

Exiting Penang Turtle Conservation Centre is the same process as arrival, either via boat or hiking back to the entrance. If you’ve taken the boat option, you can arrange to be taken to Monkey Beach on the way back if you didn’t stop there on the way in.

Final thoughts

The natural setting of Turtle Beach makes a visit to the Turtle Conservation Centre worthwhile, and it has a more relaxed (and quieter) feel than nearby Monkey Beach. It’s interesting to see and learn about the turtles but don’t expect too much from your visit. At the end of the day this is a working conservation centre, not a tourist attraction.

We’d still recommend visiting the centre, especially if you’re able to arrange watching the baby turtles being released, as it’s truly a magical experience in the natural world.

In fact the most enjoyable activity will probably be the journey there; whether it be by boat or by foot. Allow some time to chill on the beach, do a little exploring, and perhaps combine your visit to Penang National Park with a trip to Monkey Beach. Just remember that there are no shops or cafes at Turtle Beach, so make sure you take all the food and drink you’ll need and please take all rubbish home with you.