What’s the first island that comes to your mind when we talk about Malaysia? The answer is probably Langkawi. And why not? Show me one person who has travelled all the way to Malaysia, and has not visited this widely popular island? And for good reason! Langkawi undoubtedly is one of the most beautiful islands in South East Asia with a thriving tourism business. But did you know that Malaysia is home to several other gorgeous islands on both sides of the peninsular landmass? These islands may not be heard about often by those visiting the country for the first time, but they are nothing short of spectacular! One such piece of paradise is the Redang Island, off the eastern coast of Malaysia, bang in the middle of the South China Sea. Underrated, pristine and idyllic, just what you expect from a Malaysian island – a trip to Pulau Redang (Pulau in Malay means island) will leave you wanting more of the tropical beauty!
How to reach Redang Island
Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first – there is no direct flight or road to Redang island. A lot of older content on the web will tell you about the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Redang by Berjaya Air, but that is not operational anymore. The only way to reach Redang island now is to use a combination of road transport or flight and a ferry. And honestly, we love the idea of taking a boat to cross the sea to reach the island. The anticipation and the wait are truly worthwhile!
The town on the mainland that is closest to Redang island is called Kuala Terengganu. So no matter where you are coming in from, the aim is to find a flight or a bus to get you there. Once you reach Kuala Terengganu, the next task is to take a ferry to Redang island. This can be done from two jetties – Merang and Shahbandar. While Merang mostly caters to private ferries that are operated by the resorts, Shahbandar jetty is from where all the public ferries ply. If your resort provides ferry service to and from the island or if your accommodation package includes ferry service, do have a word with the resort to confirm the time and location of departure. Otherwise, simply go to the Shahbandar jetty and buy your tickets on the spot. Adult tickets normally cost about 55 MYR for a one-way journey, but this may be subject to changes over time.
The journey from the mainland to Redang island takes about 60-90 minutes depending on which jetty you depart from. Once you have boarded the right ferry, all you need to do is sit back and sail away to paradise island!
Why visit Redang island
Palm-fringed beaches, powdery white sand, clear blue water teeming with colourful marine life – That’s why! If you’re truly seeking to be closer to nature sans the crowds seen on most islands these days, Redang island is a great place to be. I cannot guarantee you virgin, untouched beaches devoid of human presence, but I can assure you that no matter which part of the island you put up at, the picture postcard-like views will not disappoint. And my most favourite way to enjoy this is to sit back and spend a lazy afternoon on a beach chair underneath a palm tree while sipping on fresh coconut water! A perfect way to unwind and soak in all the beachy sunshine! But if you’re one of those who likes to remain active, Redang island offers enough to keep you on your toes.
Things to do in Redang island
I don’t think this activity need any further elaboration. It is almost a crime to visit an island surrounded by rich coral reef and come back without experiencing it first hand. Located within the protected Terengganu Marine Park, Redang island and its surroundings offer great opportunities to those who want to experience snorkelling or diving. Many resorts have their own house reef which means that a snorkelling trip close to the beach itself will allow you to bump into all those colourful fish you had only seen pictures of. This kind of snorkelling is perfect for first-timers or those who are not entirely comfortable jumping into the open sea. Alternatively, most resorts can arrange for snorkelling and diving trips to other nearby islands which you can sign up for once you reach the resort. Snorkeling and diving gears are also readily available at all resorts at minimal cost. In addition to that, if you have been wanting to become a certified Open Water diver, this is a good opportunity to accomplish that! Just contact the diving centre at your resort and they will be able to guide you.
Redang island has a very interesting landscape. If you look beyond the scenic beaches, you’ll notice the lush hills filling up most of the interiors of the island. And when there are hills, there are ought to be jungle trails to trek, right? If you ask around, the locals will be able to direct you to off-beat hikes you can take to reach hilltops and cliffs for panoramic views of the island. But be prepared to say hello to tropical birds, animals and insects on the way! If you need a break from the beach (which is quite unlikely), trekking is a great way to explore new places on the island and engage in some physical activity.
Turtles are quickly becoming endangered and as part of conservation efforts to keep these beautiful creatures alive, several turtle nurseries and conservation centres have been opened up in many places. One such research unit called SEATRU is located in Redang island where visitors can see the nursery of Green Turtles and also volunteer to collect eggs for incubation. This is a beautiful way for adults and kids alike to give back to Mother Nature and play an important role in preserving it. A few hours at the conservation centre are definitely going be worth your time and effort.
Accommodation in Redang island
Over the years, Redang island has become home to a large number of resorts in all price ranges. Some of the most popular ones are Laguna Redang Island Resort, The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort, Coral Redang Island Resort. But thanks to the booming travel industry, a lot of smaller hotels have also cropped up on the island. So no matter what your budget and travel style is, there will be plenty of accommodation options to suit your needs. Most resorts on Redang island offer multiple packages that either include or exclude meals, activities etc. So if you are interested in multiple snorkelling or diving trips, inquire about a package inclusive of these activities. That may turn out to be more cost-effective as opposed to paying for multiple snorkelling trips on the go. Alternatively, if you are just looking for a relaxing stay and food, look out for a full-board or half-board package.
So the next time you’re thinking of places to visit in Malaysia, definitely think of exploring beyond the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi island. Islands such as Redang give you a wonderful opportunity to see the natural diversity of Malaysia, more than what most travel guidebooks or agents would tell you!