Just off the coast of Port Klang in Selangor lies a fishing village called Pulau Ketam, or Crab Island. It was founded by Chinese fishermen of the Teochew and Hokkien clans, who settled in the area as far back as the 1880s. Today,visitors to Pulau Ketam will find a thriving community of floating villages, with well-paved roads and houses on stilts, community centers, hotels, restaurants and more.
Fishing was, and still is, a major source of income for the fishermen of Pulau Ketam – but they also supplement it with tourist dollars. Locals flock to the place for day tours and to tuck into fresh seafood.
Visitors depart from the Port Klang jetty via ferry, which costs RM7 per pax. The ferries are small and air-conditioned, though it can get stuffy in there after some time. The ride takes less than an hour.
Things To Do
1 ) Crab spotting
Once on the island, visitors are greeted by….you guessed it – tiny crabs! They crawl by the hundreds across the muddy ground, which is exposed during low tide. Houses and walkways are built on stilts so that water does not reach them in high tide.
A good spot to watch these little critters scurry about is from the pier. Sometimes the local dogs will climb down into the mud, frolicking about in packs as they hunt for crabs. The crabs are non-edible for humans though.
2) Tuck into scrumptious seafood
One does not simply come to Pulau Ketam and miss out on a seafood lunch! Upon exiting from the pier, visitors tend to flock to the main restaurant facing the waterfront. When you’re disembarking with dozens of other hungry passengers, this can turn into a battle to get your orders in first; so we decided to walk a bit further in to a less crowded place called Restoran Po Seng.
Here, the friendly lady boss introduced some of their signature dishes, which included fried squid with and flower crabs. The squid did not disappoint – crunchy and well-seasoned, fresh and great with the chilli dip.
Being used to eating mud crabs, we were initially skeptical about ordering flower crabs, because they have less ‘meat’ (flower crabs die once they leave the water, unlike mud crabs) – but the lady boss said these were special ones reared in tanks. So we got a plate: 1kg yields about 3-4 medium sized crabs – and were pleasantly surprised at how meaty they were.
Steamed with ginger and red chillies, the clear broth was packed with the flavour of crab, albeit a little spicy. Crab itself was fresh, and because they were small, the shell was easier to crack open for easy eating.
My favourite part of the crab is the head. The creamy roe is heavenly. brainnns.
There was a tiny mistake with my order of bamboo clams. Wanted them curried but they came in a Kam Heong style. The resto changed it for me, but it was obvious they re-used the kam heong instead of recooking it – so the result was a kamheong with curry flavour lol. Taste was decent, and the clams were humongous.
Meals can be pricey since it is a tourist place after all, but the lunch was below RM100 which was reasonable for us.
3) Rent a bike
Now that we’re all fed and watered, time to go explore! Visitors can rent a bike, which is the main mode of transport around the village – either electric or the regular pedal-types. Roads are narrow so be careful not to bump into anyone or fall off the walkway!
4) Visit landmarks
The island is made up of some 1,000 houses with 6,000 villagers, and features a few landmarks. For Pokemon Go hunters, most of these spots are Pokestops and gyms, so you can kill two birds with one stone – sightsee and catch Pokemons at the same time.
Yes, I am part of the zombie-clan currently playing Pokemon.
An archway, commemorating the birthday of the Selangor Sultan.
Pulau Ketam has its own small but quaint looking police station.
The main area houses a Taoist temple with a grand-looking archway topped with lotus flowers.
5) Snack and souvenir hunt
As you explore the ‘commercial’ area, you’ll be beset by shops selling snacks and souvenirs on both sides. The smell of seafood-related snacks (oyster pancakes, fried prawn crullers, etc) wafted to our nostrils, stirring our appetites (nevermind that we just had lunch!). One can also find loads of snacks and souvenirs to take home.
Dried fish, crunchy snacks, pickled items, etc.
6) Explore the streets
It is refreshing to see the laid-back pace of life and neighbourly spirit in small communities.Unlike in cities where we’d never imagine not locking our apartments, almost every house here had their doors wide open. And while some homes had small compounds, none had the tall steel gates characteristic of city terrace homes.
Most homes are made from wood, or a combination of concrete and wood.
One thing to note though – Pulau Ketam has no plumbing system, so waste goes straight into the water. While the roads are clean and well-paved, the same can’t be said of the area underneath, which is often clogged with garbage and waste. If you’re easily grossed out, don’t look down.
From the Port Klang Southport jetty, take a ferry which departs roughly every 30 minutes. Last ferry is at 5.30pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends.
**Bring some sunscreen + a hat because it gets crazy hot.