Kukup is a small fishing village located about forty kilometres southwest of Johor Bahru, in the district of Pontian, Johor, on the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia. It is famous for its open-air seafood restaurants built on stilts over the water. Some of the restaurants are geared for tour groups, and it is particularly popular with tourists from Singapore. Regularly scheduled ferries connect Kukup with Tanjung Balai in Indonesia.
Kukup became more prosperous when the famous Singapore Arab Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff (also known as Nong Chik) obtained the approval of the Sultan of Johor to develop the southwest coast of Johor. Many government organisations were set up there, including a harbour and port. Boats and ships from the north to the south would stop there, loading and unloading cargo, leaving for Singapore or Malacca. Shops were opened and many people came there to settle down.
Pulau Kukup (Kukup Island) is one the largest uninhabited mangroves in the world. It is also the only one situated in Johor waters. Today, Pulau Kukup has received international recognition as the island has been granted the status of a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ (RAMSAR site) by the Geneva-based Ramsar Convention Bureau.
A local folklore tells a tale of Pulau Kukup, an abode for five celestial princesses. One day, one of the princess fell in love with a sailor and they eloped. A curse was set upon the island of Kukup and it was submerged by sea. The island later resurfaced, but it was covered in mangroves. Many have tried to settle on this island, but without success. Some say this is because the island is inhabited by spirits.
Pulau Kukup is today the home of countless species of wildlife. Among these are the playful monkeys, the quiet mudskipper or the nosy wild boar.
The visitor’s information centre & gallery is located on the mainland, opposite the bus station in Pekan Kukup. Here, visitors can obtain practical information about Kukup Island, its rich social history, and make enquiries about guided tours. The jetty is the landmark to the Pulau Kukup Johor National Park.
The boardwalk enables visitors to observe at close hand the different vegetation that make up the mangroves forest. By employing some patience and an eye for detail, long-tailed macaques, mud-skippers, skinks slithering along driftwood and a whole host of aquatic organisms are a sure sight.
Pulau Kukup’s famous suspension bridge is one of the main tourist attraction in the park. The bridge straddles Sungai Ular and spans 35 feet across. From the middle of the bridge, there is a picture-perfect view of Kukup Village on the mainland and the boats at the quay.
There are 50 ft high observation towers located on either end of the suspension bridge.
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