There are several beaches in Penang from north and northwest coast to west coast of the island. Most of the beaches are not suitable for swimming due to the undercurrent and a steep drop of the seabed, with the exception of the beaches at the national parks.
However, the most popular beach with the tourists and locals is the 4 km stretch of sandy beach along Batu Ferringhi. It takes approximately 35 minutes to reach from George Town, meandering next to the coastline from Tanjung Bungah.
The word “Ferringhi” was used to represent a foreigner from the West. “Batu” is a Malay word for rock referring to the rocky shoreline of this particular area. It has a long history as early as 1592, when the first European landed in this particular area. An English privateer, Sir James Lancaster, and his crew began pillaging other vessels in the next four months around the island.
The beach is dotted with large resort style hotels – Hard Rock, Park Royal, Double Tree, Holiday Inn, Rasa Sayang, Golden Sand, Lone Pine and Bayview – and popular with water sport activities. It is a perfect place to sit back and relax while watching sunset behind the hills of the national parks. The main road comes alive at dusk when stalls set-up by the roadside selling a variety of merchandises for bargain hunters of souvenirs and knick-knacks to take home.