Redang has some of the whitest beaches and best snorkelling on east coast peninsula Malaysia. Diving is pretty good too. But the most popular beach is crowded.
Hard to say. The main twin beach area of of Pasir Panjang at the north end of the east coast would have been one of the best in Malaysia before development. Now it is packed with midrange resorts and has a holiday camp atmosphere with hundreds of middle class Singaporean /KL families and couples out to have a good time. It's still a beautiful beach but if you don't like lots of people in package holiday mode, go elsewhere.
Berjaya Resort's beach in the north of the island is pretty nice and that joint is exclusive to it but is not a place for budget travellers. There is an adjacent beach 10 minutes walk east devoid of development which is even better - open to all comers and can be reached via a not too tough jungle track from Pasir Panjang in about 50 minutes.
Kalong Bay south of Pasir Panjang has 3 beaches.
The two southern most Kalong Beaches (separated by a small headland with walkway and pier) are very very nice - white sand, clear water, just one place each - the new flashpacker standard resort Amanna Gabba on the northern beach (I think this is the old Wisana redeveloped. I talked to two Brit guests, the only ones there at the time, who told me they were in paradise - the isolation was just what they wanted.): and on the southern beach the long-running Redang Mutiara which has a bigger number and range (budget up) of chalets than its near-neighbour. Still pretty relaxed - one Malay family and one western couple to be seen when I went by.
The only trouble with these two beaches is they are isolated and can only be reached by boat (I walked in along the top of a new water pipeline being laid down thru the jungle hills - unless you have a surfer's sense of brainlessness and balance I don't recommend this - there were some decent drops off the top. And the jungle will soon make progress way more difficult).
The 3rd Kalong Bay beach is north of the other two. It does not lack length but apart from Telek Bakau beach to the north again is inferior to other Redang resort beaches. Sand has more broken coral, gets a bit skinny at high tide and the water deepens more slowly and tends not to be as crystal-clear. Nevertheless this would be classed as a pretty nice beach on most SE Asian holiday islands. Only one outfit was operating here in late June 2011 - Redang Kalong which looked like a fairly nice budget/flashpacker standard joint. Mozana was closed for business and one other place was in ruins (or maybe it was part of Mozana).
This would be an okay beach for lower end travellers looking for the quiet time but who want an occasional burst of life/entertainment - the bars, restaurants etc of Panjang Pasir are maybe 20 minutes walk north. Not to mention gorgeous sand and water.
Telek Bakau beach is reached by taking the paved track/road 250m from the south end of Pasir Panjang. This is not a very attractive bay and at first glance has no resorts - but Redang Bahtera is set back from the beach behind the trees.
At the norh end is a pretty busy pier which gets ferries and dive/snorkel craft plus a lot of the general supply boats from the mainland and water taxis from the airport area.
A well defined path to Kalong Bay's northern most beach leaves from the southern end.
The snorkelling enclosure at the Marine National Park Headquarter Island, Pulau Pinang, was the best coral and fish display I've seen in Malaysia, Thailand or the Bali area for several years. This area has nice twin beaches, a CAMPING AREA for the real budget conscious, plus turtle breeding and educational displays. All the resorts run boats here, included in the package price.
They also go to several other areas, usually in the afternoon sessions. I only did one of these and it was a bit ordinary - although there were plenty of fish.
Snorkelling off the beach at Pasir Panjang is pretty good. The twin beaches there are separated by a dividing headland, at one stage an offshore island called Tanjung Tengah. A cuspate sand-spit has grown in the sheltered water behind to link the island to the formerly much straighter beach.
A buoyed-off swimming enclosure extends right around the headland with the area on the northern side nicely sheltered from any windy-choppy conditions in high season's prevailing winds. A patch of fairly good coral starts about 30m off the sand this side. At the seaward end of the headland things are pretty bare but once around the southern side there is a fairly big section of even better stuff. Unfortunately this does not extend all the way in to the southern beach - the first 30m into the water has rubbishy broken and dead coral which is a pity because this was the area a lot of snorkel guides from the resorts on the south beach section were taking their charges. Lots of fish most places in the swimming enclosure - they are used to being hand-fed bread-scraps. The south side of Tanjung Tengah is known for sightings of harmless reef sharks although I did not see any.
At the southern end of the southern half of the beach is another headland you can swim around - apparently the snorkelling is okay here and into the small bay behind.
Pasir Panjang to Berjaya - this is a good jungle trek and leads from the crowded east coast beach to the bigger of the two beaches near Berjaya in the island's north - the gorgeous deserted Telek Dalum Besar.
The jungle is pretty good quality with chances to spot monkeys, big monitor lizards and birds. The track is well defined with no false leads, there are no sustained steep slopes (the track goes up over a fairly low saddle with a few very short steepish pinches), it is not too rough but I suggest no flip-flops or other lightweight footwear - joggers are fine. I did the return trip twice - if you keep up a steady pace you can do it in 50 minutes one-way.
Look for the signposted track into the jungle from the new road (north of halfway) behind the resorts on Pasir Panjang.
In the beach section, I've already indicated where budget/flashpacker accommodation can be found. Pasir Panjang has midrange resorts from lower midrange to pretty flash like Redang Laguna.
Note the place I stayed in, Redang Bay, also had A DORM. Redang Bay is an interesting joint. It seems like a holiday camp for lower middle income Malaysian and Singaporean families/couples. Not too many westeners here - I was the only one for most of my stay. I don't know what management's business plan is but it sure works - the place was packed the 4 non-weekend days I was there. No vacancies whenI decided to see what the non-dorm accommodation was like.
But the dorm did have vacancies - on my first 2 nights in one of the fairly spacious 2 double-bunk rooms I had a room-mate, a Malaysian guy doing a dive course. The other 2 nights I was by myself. I got the idea the dorm was mainly built as cheap accommodation to attract divers - the dive school classroom was at the end of the corridor. It didn't seem to attract other backpackers - there was a handful next door at popular Redang Lagoon but they were pretty scarce elsewhere. As were other westerners - flash Laguna seemed to have most but still less than half its total guests.
BTW the dorms were clean, had aircon and the 4 bathrooms had hot water showers. However rooms on the courtyard side of the block get extremely loud music from the bar until the early hours. I moved to a room the other side of the corridor - much quieter.
Redang Bay's management and staff are efficient and keep in pretty good humour considering the large number of people they are dealing with. The dining area workers are heroes.
There are several bars and restaurants with music on Pasir Panjang. Redang Laguna runs a disco most nights open to outsiders and often has late afternoon live music.
You can fly onto the island with Berjaya Air or ferry from Merang close to Kuala Terennganu which gets flights from KL and buses from all over. All the resorts have their own ferry plus shuttles to KT.
Thanks for the great info as per usual Tezza! Do you know if you can do day trips there from Perhentian Besar as the snorkelling sounds awesome? Also, would you say Perhentian Besar is less crowded than Redang? thanks!
#2 kiwigirlnz has been a member since 17/8/2011. Posts: 15
I did see Redang daytrips offered on Perhentian Besar. It's a fair distance and frankly having done a few long open sea trips in speedboats I'd be hesitant. If there is any chop running things can be very uncomfortable and wet.
Given the distance involved, not inexpensive either.
I reckon the coral and fish were pretty okay around the Perhentians a week later - I wouldn't go all the way to Redang to see slightly better stuff. But if you want to check the beaches etc as welll ........
Oh yeah, Perhentian Besar considerably less crowded than the main twin beaches on Redang in late June/early July. Other Redang beaches very uncrowded.
And that beaut Marine Park HQ snorkelling area at Redang must have had 10 boats and 300-400 people when I visited.
I did a day diving trip to redang from Perhentian Besar. There was a 50 ringitt surcharge because of the distance. It took about 45-60 minutes. It wasn't that bad. we had snorkelers on board, too. I did it through turtle bay divers. they have locations on both besar & kecil.
Thanks Tezza and savorygal, we are now looking at just going to Tioman island as it seems to have better wildlife and be less crowded? Do you think the snorkeling is as good at Tioman as the Perhentians? We are hoping to have clear water , a variety of fish and see turtles.
#6 kiwigirlnz has been a member since 17/8/2011. Posts: 15