Batu Luang at Tempurong Beach

Batu Luang, the Rock that ate the Bride

I was astonished when a famous photographer from West Malaysia showed me some stunning photos of Batu Luang, a bell-shaped rock located in a beach of Kuala Penyu. Batu means “Rock” in Malay language, and Batu Luang means “Luang Rock” literally.

Photo of Batu Luang by Muhammad Adzha
Photo by Muhammad Adzha, under Creative Commons License

Batu Luang is surrounded by mossy green rocks, sea, pebbles, rusty-red rockface, and caves, when one or more of these being framed into a photo during orange-hued dusk, you will get one of the most amazing sunset shots of Sabah.

Nice sunset at Batu Luang
Nice sunset at Batu Luang (high tide)

It is funny that it’s non-Sabahan who introduced Batu Luang to me. Anyway, I’m excited to check out Batu Luang near Tempurong Beach (or Pantai Tempurung). The rock is very accessible and near to the main road in Tempurung Village.

Walking to Batu Luang
Walking to Batu Luang. The hills at both sides look like a giant gate, or the parents of little Batu Luang
beach and hill covered by stones and pebbles
The beach and hills are covered by cobbles and pebbles

Batu Luang Beach

The view is better than what I saw in the photos online, which show only a small part of the beach. The beach and rockfaces are covered by pebbles in different size and shapes. There are 5 or 6 caves at the base of the hills there. The biggest cave can fit in 10 or more people, other caves are more like a hole.

The pebble beach of Batu Luang
The pebble beach and cave around Batu Luang

Batu Luang may look small in photos. Actually it’s over 12 Meters high and the only big rock standing in the sea (as far as we can see).

Small caves at the base of hill
Small caves at the base of hill, created by coastal erosion

Though Batu Luang is a new hot spot for local photographers, there is no hotel, restaurant, parking lots and toilet nearby. Occasionally you would see some local youngsters frolicking there in hot days, or a few photographers taking photos during dusk, Most of the time you would be the only one at the beach.

Tour package to Kota Kinabalu
twilight hour at Batu Luang
Splendid twilight hour at Batu Luang

Therefore, Batu Luang Beach retains its beauty of untouched nature. It has some special geological features which are uncommon in Sabah. For example, the rustic-red color of the rockfaces are so magnificent when they are painted over by golden sun ray in late afternoon.

Legend of Batu Luang

The beautiful Batu Luang has a tragic story about a newly-wed couple. Many years ago in Kuala Penyu, after the wedding celebration at the bride’s home, the couple walked to the house of bridegroom with their families in a fine morning. When they were approaching Batu Luang, the sky turned dark, and they were hit by heavy rainstorm.

Batu Luang rock in the morning
Batu Luang rock in the morning

Therefore, they ran and took shelter in a cave at Batu Luang. When the storm was over, the group moved out from the cave. The couple was the last to exit. Suddenly, the cave collapsed and closed, the bride was the last person on the way out. The bridegroom grabbed her hands trying to pull her out. Unfortunately, her hands slipped and left the wedding ring in the hand of her husband. She was sealed in the cave forever.

Beautiful ladies at beautiful beach
Ladies at Batu Luang Beach (better stay away from the cave LOL)

The locals say sometimes they can hear woman crying inside the rock at night. So sad… On positive side, the bridegroom doesn’t need to buy a new wedding ring if he remarries.

View of Batu Luang rock from inside a cave
View of Batu Luang rock from inside a cave

According to a local blog by Muzaffar Libon Jueh, there is a part two for this story. The bride was trapped in the cave and alive. The villagers tried everything to open the cave but unsuccessful. Then a bird flied by and chirped, like saying, “Poke with a needle then it’ll open.” However, the people there just scoffed and ignored it. After 7 days of trying, the villagers gave up, so was the bride. She handed over the wedding ring to her husband through a small opening, asking him to forget her. She was then locked inside forever and marry to the guardian spirit of the cave, and became an angel named Kasum. If you bump into a pretty girl playing at Ara tree on top of the hill near Batu Luang, she could be Kasum.

Beach covered by pebbles
The small shrub on Batu Luang reminds me of Batu Burung (Bird Rock)

However, this sounds like a “modern” legend because Sabah had no such thing as wedding ring a few hundred years ago. Very likely parents make up this story to scare children, so they won’t go playing around Batu Luang, which can be dangerous due to a few reasons. The water at Batu Luang Beach can be quite deep during high tide, and the current is strong.

Interesting rock formation and rocks covered by green algae
Interesting rock formation and rocks covered by green algae

Furthermore, they could be hit by falling rocks from the loose rockface above. Our people also believe exploring cave would disturb the “Bogeymen” dwells inside, hence the warning they would be eaten alive by cave and become the next Batu Luang.

A Beach that Rocks

Batu Luang is not the only interesting rock here. Just look around and you will be fascinated by variety of rocks at the shore.

Tempurong Beach during sunset
Shingle beach of Batu Luang

Most of the rocks at Batu Luang Beach are cobble with round edges, after being moved and tumbled by sea waves over time.

Batu Luang and surrounding pebbles covered by green algae
Batu Luang and surrounding pebbles covered by green algae

The most intriguing rocks are those covered with green algae. These rocks are only present from January to June, the months when monsoon washes away the sand that buries them.

Cool rocks near Batu Luang
Cool conglomerate near Batu Luang

The conglomerate deposit on rockface and the beach is another highlight of Batu Luang Beach. Conglomerate is made up of rounded pebbles glued together, formed by the lithification of cobble-size rocks and gravel.

rockface and caves of Batu Luang
The rockface and caves of Batu Luang are unique

To me, the conglomerate cemented with round pebbles looks like dinosaur eggs fossils. This is the first time I see such rock formation in Sabah.

Batu Luang during high tide hour
Batu Luang during high tide (with conglomerate rocks in foreground)

The conglomerate is really nice, like a piece of art, so I joked to my friends that I wanted to bring some home. The moment I finished talking, a few rocks fell right in front of me. We have to watch our mouth in the wild, because “something” might be listening. Ok then, I took nothing but photograph.

Mimic the expression of the stone
Mimic the expression of the rock |-O

Tour around Batu Luang

Batu Luang is a public beach, so anyone can go there. It’s safe for children to explore around under the care of adults.

Batu Luang during sunrise
Batu Luang during sunrise

The only problem is the tiny blood-sucking sandfly. Its bite can stay itchy for days. Try to cover as much exposed skin as you can. There are not many sandfly anyway.

Sunset shot at Tempurong Beach
Sunset shot at Batu Luang Beach

If weather permits, you can have wonderful picture and welfie moment during sunset.

Beach around Batu Luang
Beach around Batu Luang

Part of the beach is rocky, so you better wear shoes.

Villagers fishing at Tempurong Beach
Villagers fishing at Tempurong Beach

There are a few villagers living near to the beach. You might find them catching fishes in the morning.

Children stroll on the beach
Children stroll on the beach

At another side of Batu Luang is a vast area of sandy beach. The waves are quite strong, so don’t go too far away from shore.

Family fun at Tempurong Beach and Batu Luang
Family fun at Tempurong Beach and Batu Luang
Beautiful rockface and cave
Beautiful rockface and cave

The old folks say there was used to be a deep cave at Batu Luang in the past, which they believe hidden with a lot of treasures, but the cave has disappeared. You may try your luck there. Just watch out for falling rocks when you explore the caves.

There are many small caves around Batu Luang
There are many small caves around Batu Luang
Big cave near Tempurong Beach
The biggest cave at Batu Luang Beach
Exploring the big cave
Exploring the big cave

How to get there

Batu Luang is about 120 Km away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) and 14 Km away from Kuala Penyu town. Its GPS location is 5.524541, 115.523986 (see Location Map or 3D Street View).

Turtle roundabout before Kuala Penyu town
Turtle roundabout before Kuala Penyu town

There is no public transport that reaches Batu Luang, so you have to get a taxi or drive on your own for 2 hours. If you depart from KK, you will reach a roundabout with turtle statues (about 10 Km before Kuala Penyu town). Turn left to the direction of Menumbuk.

Junction to Batu Luang
Junction to Batu Luang

After 1.5 Km, turn right to the junction with the signs (see photo above) that read “JLN Kasugira BT Luang” and “Selemat Datang ke Kg. Gorowot” (opposite to Rumbia Information Center).

Location of Batu Luang
You can see Batu Luang from the road

Then follow the road sign to Tempurung Golden Beach Resort, and you will see Batu Luang at your left after 4 to 5 KM. The place is highly accessible by asphalt road in good condition. You can park your car at the roadside and walk 100 Meters to the beach.

Photos taken in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

4 thoughts on “Batu Luang, the Rock that ate the Bride

  1. why use the nick name smoker head? not ex smoker head.. or cancer man .. like the guy in X files…
    where are ur national photos? i am sure u were at such a big ‘event’
    the only thing is noticed was the whole load of traffic jam this events causes.. o ya.. not to mention all the rubbish. did u notice all those that attended the even in the crowds are not even local.. their are either tourist or illegals… most malaysians are at home snoring.

  2. Yes, the national day was a big event so I got many photos. I got the photos of merdeka night, parade, and even Miss Merdeka competition. I am not so free this and next week. I think I have to delay the upload again.. 🙁

  3. Kuala Penyu is one of the very last towns in Sabah that I haven’t been to, apart from Semporna. May be this is a good reason for me to go there. I’ve always wanted to go to Tempurung Beach so may be I can kill two birds with one stone. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Yea, it’s fun to explore small towns in Sabah. You will be surprised by what they have. The villagers are so used to many extraordinary things around their place and don’t know they have something special.

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