Lighthouses of Malaysia: West Malaysia West Coast

The nation of Malaysia is in two parts: Peninsular Malaysia (also called West Malaysia or Malaya) on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo (East Malaysia) on the island of Borneo roughly 700 km (450 mi) to the east. West Malaysia is the former Federation of Malaya, a union of 11 states placed under British protectorate in the late 1800s. Malaya became independent in 1957. In 1963 the British granted independence to Malaysia, a new country formed by uniting Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah (North Borneo). Singapore, a predominantly Chinese city just off the tip of Malay Peninsula, left the union in 1965 and has been independent since.

Malaya faces one of the world's most important waterways, often called simply The Straits. The Strait of Malacca opens westward to the Indian Ocean and separates Malaya from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. At its southeastern end, the Strait of Malacca joins the Singapore Strait, which connects to the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean.

This page describes lighthouses of the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, facing the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, in the states of Perak, Penang, and Kedah. Aids to navigation in the heavily-traveled strait are regulated by the Malacca Strait Council, a consortium of the maritime authorities of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Aids to navigation in Malaysia (except for Pulau Pisang) are the responsibility of the Marine Department (Jabatan Laut). The Malay term for a lighthouse is rumah api; pulau is an island, permatang is a shoal or reef, tanjung is a cape, sungai is a river, and bukit is a hill.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Aids to Navigation
Posted by the Marine Department, this page links to slide-show presentations on Malaysian lighthouses. Some of the photos appear to be out of date.
Online List of Lights - Malaysia
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses in Malaysia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Malaysia
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Malaysian Lighthouses
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.
Leuchttürme Asiens, Australiens, und Ozeaniens auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.
Muka Head Light
Muka Head Light, Penang, 2006
photo copyright Ralf Eulig; used by permission
Perak Lighthouses
Kuala Bernam
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); white flash every 4 s. 14 m (46 ft) concrete post light with gallery, mounted on a square concrete platform supported by piles. The upper portion of the tower is surrounded by a white vertically-slatted daymark. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on the north side of the channel in the entrance to the Bernam River, which forms the boundary between the states of Selangor and Perak. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1574.3; NGA 21884.
Pulau Jarak
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 162 m (531 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. Approx. 35 m (115 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. A distant view is available, and the light can also be seen in Azrin Tajuddin's view of the island, but the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. Located atop Pulau Jarak, a small, steep-sided island in the strait about 35 km (22 mi) southwest of Lumut. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS WMA-017; Admiralty F1566; NGA 21898.
Pulau Sembilan (White Rock) (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) post light mounted on a square equipment enclosure. Entire lighthouse is white. A 2007 photo is available, but the reef is not seen in Google's satellite view. NGA lists a skeletal tower at this location. Located on a dangerous rock about 25 km (15 mi) off Kampong Sungai Ular. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS WMA-020; Admiralty F1565; NGA 21900.
Pulau Katak (Lumut) (3)
Date unknown (station established 1888). Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 4 s. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) skeletal mast mounted on a round brick tower, painted white. Richie Yong has a distant view, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. The original light on a mast was replaced in 1919 by a tower with a focal plane height of 27 m (89 ft); probably the skeletal mast is mounted atop this tower. Located on a small island off a promontory at the southern entrance to Lumut. Site status unknown. ARLHS WMA-009; Admiralty F1558.5; NGA 21912.
Tanjung Hantu
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 30 m (98 ft); white flash every 5 s. 6 m (20 ft) round white concrete tower. Ibrahim Bin Haji Ngah Ahmad has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view and a "street" view taken from the water. Located on a prominent cape about 20 km (13 mi) northwest of Lumut, a Malaysian Navy base. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1554; NGA 21924.
Kuala Beruas (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 20 m (66 ft) post; the upper 2/3 of the tower is surrounded by a round cylindrical daymark colored with red and white horizontal bands. Ah Lek Tan has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. Located at a port entrance about 30 km (19 mi) north of Lumut. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty F1552.5; NGA 21970.

Pulau Penang (Penang Island) Lighthouses
Note: Penang (also spelled Pinang) is a large island (293 km2 or 113 mi2) off the northwestern coast of Malaya; together with a strip of land on the adjoining mainland it forms the state also called Pulau Pinang or simply Penang. Ceded to Britain by the Sultan of Kedah in 1786, the island was the first British base in Malaysia. It is accessible from the mainland by air, by a bridge, or by ferry from Butterworth on the mainland to George Town on the island. A second bridge, the longest in Southeast Asia, opened in 2014.
Pulau Rimau
1885. Active; focal plane 39 m (128 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 17 m (56 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white. A Marine Department photo is at right, a view from the sea is available, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse marks the beginning of the approach from the south to George Town, the principal town of Penang island and the capital of Pulau Pinang state. Located on a small island off the southeastern tip of Penang Island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS WMA-011; Admiralty F1540; NGA 21992.
Pulau Rimau Light
Pulau Rimau Light, Penang
Malaysian Marine Department photo
Owen Beacon (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); green flash every 5 s. 14 m (46 ft) round white concrete tower mounted on a platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a very distant street view from the Penang Bridge and Bing has a satellite view. Located in the channel between the island and the mainland, about 1800 m (1.1 mi) south of the Penang Bridge. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1529; NGA 22016.
#Wellesley Beacon (2?)
Date unknown. Apparently removed. This was a 13 m (43 ft) round concrete tower mounted on a platform supported by piles. No photo available, and the light has disappeared from Google's street view and satellite view. Located in the channel between the island and the mainland, off the Butterworth shore opposite Fort Point. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1512; NGA 22048.
* Fort Cornwallis (Fort Point, Penang) (1)
1882. Inactive since 1914. 21 m (69 ft) cast iron post with lantern and hexagonal gallery, painted white. Attached to the tower is a tall mast similar to a ship's mast, with two spars. Syeefa Jay's August 2007 photo and one of Wikimedia's photos show both lighthouses, Mathieu Castel has another good photo, Google has a street view, and Forand has a historic postcard view. The tower remained in service as a signal tower after the light was deactivated. Both Fort Cornwallis lighthouses were restored in 2005-06 by the Penang State Tourism Development Committee. Located on a promontory in George Town, the capital of Penang, on the northeast side of the island. Site open, tower closed.
**** Fort Cornwallis (Fort Point, Penang) (2)
1914 (station established 1882). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); red flash every 2 s. 21 m (69 ft) square pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower with lantern, gallery, and enclosed watch room, painted white. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the tall signal mast carrying the original light (previous entry). Marc de Kleijn's photo appears at right, Lightphotos.net has a photo, Forand has a historic postcard photo, Huelse has a distant postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Prefabricated in England, this lighthouse is a rare survivor of its type. It stands within the walls of Fort Cornwallis, a classic star-shaped late 18th century fort that was the first British outpost in Malaya. A restoration project during 2006 made it possible to open the lighthouse to visitors; a small museum has also been built. Located on a promontory in George Town, the capital of Penang, at the northeastern corner of the island. Site open, tower open but we do not know the schedule. ARLHS WMA-004; Admiralty F1494; NGA 22056.
Pulau Tikus (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 3 s. 7 m (23 ft) post light with gallery, mounted on a small 1-story equipment room. Entire lighthouse painted white. There is a house, presumably an abandoned keeper's house, adjacent to the light, as well as a grave (probably of a former keeper). Google has a satellite view. Pulau Tikus (Rat Island) is a small island just off the northeast coast of Penang Island. Accessible only by boat, and several kayakers found the landing to be difficult. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS WMA-031; Admiralty F1490; NGA 22092.
Fort Cornwallis Light
1914 Fort Cornwallis Light, August 2009
photo copyright Marc de Kleijn; used by permission

Muka Head
1883. Active; focal plane 242 m (794 ft); white flash every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical granite tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white. This is a staffed station. Ralf Eulig's closeup photo appears at the top of this page, Horng Yih Wong has a 2008 photo, Forand has a historic postcard view, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse is the landfall light for Penang for ships arriving from the Indian Ocean. Located atop a high promontory at the northwestern tip of the island. There is no road access to this station; an early 2009 visitor reports that the lighthouse is accessible by a 2-hour hike (bring plenty of water) from the entrance to Penang National Park at Teluk Bahang. Site open, tower open by arrangement with the keeper. Site manager: Penang National Park. ARLHS WMA-006; Admiralty F1486; NGA 22088.

Kedah Lighthouses
*
Kuala Kedah (Kedah River, Sungai Kedah)
1904. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) tapered round masonry tower, painted white. A 2010 photo and another photo are available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the north side of the entrance to the estuary and harbor of Kuala Kedah, a town in the northwestern corner of Malaysia. There should be a view from ferries leaving Kuala Kedah for Langkawi. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS WMA-014; Admiralty F1478; NGA 22116.
Pulau Kedera
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 79 m (259 ft); white flash every 5 s. Listed by NGA only as a "white tower"; probably a concrete tower 10-15 m (33-49 ft) in height. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located atop a small island in the bay south of Langkawi, a popular resort island off the coast of Kedah state. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS WMA-018; Admiralty F1477.3; NGA 22123.
Pulau Enggang (2)
Date unknown (2009?). Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); white flash every 8 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete block tower, painted white. Ezmil Sahrani has photos, a February 2009 photo shows scaffolding around the lighthouse, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. This new lighthouse replaced a skeletal tower. Located on a small island off the east coast of Pulau Tuba, on the southeast side of the Langkawi archipelago. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1476; NGA 22124.
Teluk Telaga (Telaga Harbor)
Date unknown. Active (unofficial); focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); white light, characteristic unknown. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) 12-sided faux-rubblestone tower with lantern and gallery. The tower is unpainted with white trim, lantern painted white. A photo and a second photo are available, there's a photo of the lighthouse in action, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the entrance to Telaga harbor, near the west end of Pulau Langkawi. Site open, tower closed.
Tanjung Chinchin
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 11 m (36 ft) round fiberglass tower mounted on a square concrete pier. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located just off the northwestern tip of Pulau Langkawi. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1470; NGA 22132.
Pulau Dangli
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 86 m (282 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) skeletal tower mounted on a square 1-story concrete base. Ezmil Sahrani has photos, and Google has an indistinct satellite view and a "street" view taken from the water. Located atop a small island off the north coast of Pulau Langkawi. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1471; NGA 22134.
Pulau Sigal
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) post mounted on or adjacent to a 1-story equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. Ezmil Sahrani has photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island off the north point of Pulau Timun and across a narrow channel from the southeastern point of Pulau Langkawi. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1476.3; NGA 22130.
Pulau Perak
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 128 m (420 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 18 m (60 ft) round concrete tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. Ezmil Sahrani has photos (one is seen at right), M. Harris Sadi has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Pulau Perak is a small island in the middle of the northern entrance to the Strait of Malacca. The island is the westernmost point of Malaysia. Located at the highest point of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS IDO-239; Admiralty F1476.1; NGA 22367.

Pulau Perak Light, Strait of Malacca
photo copyright Ezmil Sahrani; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Perak River (1891-?). A screwpile lighthouse was built on a shoal 8 km (5 mi) north of the entrance. There is no light at this location today.

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Southern Thailand | South: West Malaysia South Coast | West: Eastern Sumatra

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Posted March 12, 2006. Checked and revised January 31, 2017. Lighthouses: 21. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.