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A Walk in Tanjung Tuan
The historic Tanjung Tuan – also known by its Portuguese name Cape Rachado – is a gazetted forest reserve popular amongst birdwatchers near and far.
The only coastal-forest in Melaka, Tanjung Tuan's history, environment and geographical location makes it a unique location for hiking and bird watching.
Gazetted as a permanent reserve forest by the Forest Department of Melaka in 1921 (under the title of Cape Rachado Permanent Reserved Forest), Tanjung Tuan is managed by Kumpulan Melaka Bhd., and is situated approximately 20km from Port Dickson.
The main entrance to Tanjung Tuan.
The old virgin coastal-forest contains a rich and diverse population of flora and fauna (177 species of plants and trees have been recorded), and is known to be the ideal ‘pit-stop’ for migratory birds – especially raptors – on the East Asian-Australia Flyway.
It’s also been designated as an Important Bird Area by international non-profit organisation BirdLife International, and a Wildlife Sanctuary by Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN).
Every year, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) organises the Raptor Watch to coincide with the raptors’ journey back to the northern hemisphere via Tanjung Tuan, with the aim of spreading awareness on the conservation of raptors and their habitats.
Following the main road uphill leads to the Cape Rachado lighthouse.
Walking uphill on the main paved road leads to the iconic Cape Rachado lighthouse – rebuilt in 1863 – and a cliff-top view of the Malacca Straits. The Portuguese established the site after they conquered Melaka in 1511, and the lighthouse was initially built to guide their ships across the Straits.
The Battle of Cape Rachado occurred just off the coast in 1606, and is an important historic site for Melaka. The naval battle between the Dutch-Johor coalition and the Portuguese marked the beginning of a series of conflicts which eventually led to the Portuguese relinquishing control of Melaka in 1641. Several ships were lost during the battle; in 1995, the Dutch ship Nassau was excavated from the area and is on display at Lukut Museum in Port Dickson.
A view of the Cape Rachado lighthouse.
The lighthouse is not accessible to visitors, but a walk around the compound reveals the battle site and a stunning view of the Straits of Malacca.
“We came here because it was said to be ‘photo-worthy’,” says one visitor as she admires the ‘blue lagoon’ with her friends. They discovered Cape Rachado and Tanjung Tuan online after looking for picturesque places to visit in Port Dickson. Birdwatching enthusiasts also note the scenic spot to be excellent for spotting migratory birds.
Signs inside the park educate visitors on the migratory birds that fly through Tanjung Tuan.
Picturesque views of the Straits of Malacca, hidden behind the lighthouse.
The two forest trails near the lighthouse lead to different areas of Tanjung Tuan, while the trail behind the structure descends to a secluded beach where Hang Tuah’s footprint can be found. Following the circuit leads to an old Dutch well, and a wooden staircase brings visitors back uphill, towards the main paved road.
Following the pathway towards the beach will eventually lead to another historic site known as the Mystical Well. Hang Tuah’s footprint can be found by following the stairs by the well.
The remains of the Old Dutch Well at Tanjung Tuan.
Stairs descending to the beach from Cape Rachado.
A no-frills campsite is also located by the beach and is open to the public. For just RM3, visitors are welcome to camp there, plus camping equipment is available onsite.
The other forest path is located before the lighthouse’s staircase and goes to Bukit Batu Putih; climbing the limestone rocks offers a different view of the ocean.
The view of the Straits of Malacca from the secluded beach.
Camping is allowed for a small fee. The park’s campsite is located near the secluded beach at Tanjung Tuan.
Exploring Tanjung Tuan takes several hours and children and adults of all ages can be seen enjoying the recreational park. Although some paths may be tricky for the very young – and certain elevated pathways may be difficult for those below average fitness – people looking for a ‘forest cleanse’, a dose of history, and a view of the ocean will find them all here.
Address: Hutan Rekreasi Tanjung Tuan, Tanjung Tuan, 71050 Melaka. Open daily, 7am-6pm. Entry fee, RM1. www.forestry.gov.my
Text and photos by Stacy Liu
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