REDANG, Malaysia – Set within miles of pristine, soft, white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters and enchanting coral reefs, is Redang Island. Known as the preferred island by honeymooners, families, and divers seeking a little recluse from our fast-paced world.
Located at the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, Redang is known to locals as paradise. This, due to its unmatched beauty amongst the other Malaysian islands.
Surrounded by eight smaller islands and under the protection of the State of Terengganu, visitors are required to pay a one-off entrance fee to enter these ‘marine parks’. RM5 (USD1.17) for Malaysians, RM30 (USD7.01) for foreigners.
The movie Summer Holiday (2000) starring Cantonese superstar Sammi Cheng and Taiwan’s Brat Pitt, Richie Ren, gave Redang its fame. It pushed tourist numbers up when the movie first came out, and it surprisingly still does today.
Part of the set, an adorable bright pink shop house, still sits in commission selling souvenirs and tourist necessities.
What you will find on the island of Redang are budget and family friendly resorts. Prices range between RM100 (USD23.36) RM300 (USD70.09) a night.
But keep in mind that unless you are willing to splurge on something high-end, the majority of these budget friendly resorts are run-down and not as hygienic as you may like.
Keep in mind that this also means thinner walls and probably a makeshift disco-bar next to your resort. Music however, as an unspoken rule gets turns down by 12:30 AM.
Though each resort comes attached with their own restaurant, you won’t be spoilt for choice as they serve the same thing throughout the island.
The majority of restaurants close at 9 PM. So, plan on having dinner early. One thing to note is that though alcohol and cigarettes are sold throughout the island, pork is not.
Traveling to Redang
There is an airport on Redang island, with daily flights from Berjaya Air. Unfortunately, the only road they have is from the airport straight to the closest coast, where you still have to grab a ferry to take you to your respective resort.
Most travellers choose to fly into Terengganu airport and take a ferry over from Shahbandar Jetty. The cost of a one-way ticket, RM55 (USD12.85) per person.
Traveling around the island
Boat services, available at all resorts, is the travel mode of choice. There are no car or motorbike rental services because there simply are no roads.
Things to do
Trails are marked by clear pathways and no guides are necessary. But if you need safety reassurance, your resort should have guides at the ready for you.
This 40 minute trek leads you to Turtle Bay, a small stretch that has no amenities except a few pop-up stalls renting out swimming gear, and selling water and snacks. This is where tourists are taken, by boat, to swim with turtles.
The coral beds at Redang are some of the most beautiful in the country and worth the price in renting any equipment from RM5 (USD1.17) per hour. Should you forget to bring your own, every resort has an attached diving school, equipment rental, and guides to take you out on sea excursions.
Fishing is frowned upon within a radius of 3.2 kilometres. However, it’s still possible as long as they were caught with rods and not guns. (Heavy penalties and fines will be imposed on both guest and resort.)
Blue and Green Sand
Past midnight, when the tides are low and at the water’s edge, gently scraping the sand will show you glowing flecks of blue or green seed shrimp.
The colours vary depending on which side of the island you find yourself on. Part of the Bioluminescent Ostracods family, these seed shrimp glow to signify their readiness to mate. Therefore, I urge you not to pick one up and crush it to death before they can.
Hawksbills, Olive Ridley, and Green Turtles are the three species that are native to Redang. Throughout the year, these majestic creatures will visit the islands, depending on their season. So, it’s a relatively safe bet that no matter the month, divers and snorkelers will get to see and swim with them.
For animal and turtle lovers, there’s a Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) where you can volunteer to collect eggs and incubate them in hatcheries until they burst forth from their shells to brave world wide ocean.
Tourists are warned against taking home live corals and animals, as it comes with a heavy penalty and possible jail time. You could, however, pick up a hand-painted little jar and fill it up with sand and shells you collect from the beach.
There are a few convenience shops (the cheapest at Redang Bay Resort), and a few smaller shops selling souvenirs and beach gear strewn about the island.
There are even a few places offering traditional Malay and Thai massage. Don’t be surprised that the prices in Redang are high, as everything has to be imported by boat, which justifies their raised prices.
When to Visit
Peak Periods: March – June (and during school holidays)
Island Opens: Late February
Officially Closed: Mid-December
Monsoon Season: End October – Mid-March
Resorts tend to start closing from mid-September onwards
Season divers and locals will still travel up until mid-December
– The Binge