Difference between revisions of "Redang"
Revision as of 04:59, 21 August 2013
Redang Marine Park (Taman Laut Pulau Redang) covers all 9 islands in the Redang Archipelago.
Redang Island is famous for its crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and the tropical fish that inhabit the numerous reefs, many within 50 feet of the shore.
In contrast to the neighboring Perhentian Islands backpacker hangout, Redang has a more upmarket image, as almost all accommodation on the island is resort-based. The largest beach is Pasir Panjang on the east side, featuring half a dozen resorts. However, on the south end this beach usually has more choppy water and the beaches will have more debris than the beaches around the bend to the north. The snorkeling is also found to the north of Pasir Panjang. Scheduling your vacation around the summer school break will mean drastically fewer people at the resorts and it would not be uncommon on the beaches on the north end of the beach for you to be one of only a handful of people if not the only person on the beach.
Redang has a tropical climate with temperatures steadily around 30°C and frequent but brief thunderstoms. Like the rest of Malaysia's East Coast, Redang is affected by the northeast monsoon in winter, so most resorts are closed and ferry transport schedules are severely restricted between November and February.
No matter which way you choose to arrive, a marine park fee (RM5) is levied on all visitors to the island. Transfers can be arranged directly with resorts.
Berjaya Air  has recently opened an airstrip on Redang (code RDN), located on the south side of the island near the Taaras Beach & Spa Resort (formerly known as Berjaya Redang Spa Resort). As of July 2005, there is one daily flight each to and from Kuala Lumpur (RM249 one-way) and Singapore (RM350 one-way). The airport is connected by roads to both of Berjaya's own resorts and to the southern fishing port, however transfers from the airport to anywhere else will require a combined car & ferry ride that must be arranged in advance. Note that the flights utilise the secondary airport of Subang(SZB) in instead of KL International(KLIA).
A considerably cheaper if somewhat less convenient option is to fly to Kuala Terengganu, a one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, and continue from here by boat. There are half a dozen flights daily on MAS and Air Asia, with a full one-way fare costing around RM170, but advance fares can go as low as RM80.
The traditional way to get to Redang is by boat. The main jetty is at Merang, some 30 km north from Kuala Terengganu. From Merang, the trip to Pasir Panjang takes about 40 minutes on comfortable, large speedboats and ferry boats with prices are more or less standardized at RM40/80 one-way/return.
In season (March-October), there are also ferries directly from the Shahbandar Jetty in central Kuala Terengganu to the Berjaya Jetty on the south side of the island, with approximately 1 hour 15 minutes journey.These are operated by and intended primarily for guests of the Berjaya resorts, but they'll take non-guests on board if there's space available. Ferry Fare (two-way) is chargeable at MYR 100.00 nett per adult and MYR 50.00 nett per child (Aged 2-12 years old). Resorts can schedule on-ward travel and can accommodate even incredibly early departures from the resort area.
There are no scheduled ferries between Redang and the Perhentian Islands, however day-trip and dive boats are constantly travelling between the two, particularly during high-season, so a relatively economical transfer can usually be arranged if you have the time, inclination, patience and flexibility to ask around and wait for a boat that's departing with seats still available. Where a day-trip is not available, it should be possible to arrange a trip from with a local boat owner on the Perhentian Islands. A boat will typically cost around MYR 400 for up to 6 people, with the journey taking approximately 60 minutes.
If you have a group trip to redang, Private Ship Yacht available for charter/rent .
In a word, you don't get around Redang much. Roads on the center of the island connect together the airport, Berjaya's jetty and two Berjaya resorts as well as the southern fishing port, but provide no connectivity elsewhere and there is no public transportation along them either. While the main strip of Pasir Panjang is easily covered on foot, travelling from one beach to another will require either chartering a boat (there are no organized water taxi services) or clambering across the 1.5-hour jungle trails (actual crossing time is 30-40mins) leading from Pasir Panjang north to the Berjaya Beach Resort and south to Redang Kelong Resort. The people here are mainly Malay dealing with agriculture and cultivation with cows, goats and chicken as poultry.
Redang is very low on sights and most visitors spend their time lazing on the beach or exploring the corals. There's some fairly active wildlife though, including inquisitive monkeys (don't feed them), energetic squirrels and large monitor lizards.
Snorkeling is the number one activity on Redang and rightly so as the coral reefs are quite spectacular. Many resort packages include snorkeling tours by boat to nearby islands, but there are some decent reefs right off Pasir Panjang. The best of the lot is at the southern end next to the aptly named Redang Reef Resorts, and the small hill/island in the middle of Pasir Panjang is a nesting ground for baby sharks. It is very important to be concious while snorkeling if you are using fins as it can take many years for the coral to re-grow. The snorkeling is quite protected making the water quite calm and fins are not necessary.
Running a close second in the popularity contest is scuba diving. The waters around the island are usually crystal clear - although visibility can drop dramatically after a storm - and home to a host of sea creatures including turtles and reeftip sharks. While Redang caters to divers of all levels and is a popular place to complete a diving course, some of the sites further out can have fairly strong currents. More or less every resort on the island has its own dive shop, but it may be worth looking beyond the house shop as quality varies considerably.
Other available sports options include beach volleyball and sea kayaks, but jet skis and water skis are mercifully absent (banned to protect the coral). Fishing within the marine park is not permitted, but fishing boats can be hired for excursions beyond the 2-mile park limits.
Underwater cameras also available for rental at RM30 per day with pictures burnt in CD at the end of the day. Walk in to Redang Pelangi to enquire for more.
Shopping opportunities on Redang are largely limited to touristy gewgaws in the resorts' little convenience stores. One of the larger operations, open until 11 PM, can be found at the Redang Bay Resort with one store for food and drinks and another for clothes and souvenirs. Similarly, in Redang Pelangi Resort, the convenience store opens until midnight, offering a variety of snacks, can drinks, and toileteries; and the sourvenier shop which offers a wide range of unique sourveniers. Often the smaller souvenir shops that are not attached to the convenience shops are closed during off-peak seasons.
Every resort has its own restaurant, serving up burgers, pizza and bland local food at outrageous prices (at least by Malaysian standards); a few better options can be found lurking in the gaps.
Tap water is salty and not drinkable. Bottled water is widely available at around RM3 for a 1.5L bottle.
Unusually for Terengganu, alcohol is widely available both in convenience stores and the resort restaurants (probably because most resorts are run by chinese businessmen), although it's not exactly cheap. A can of beer purchased at a store starts at RM7.8 and a flask of cheap Malaysian vodka at RM15, but the restaurants will happily gouge you over RM100 for a bottle of wine. Self-catering aside, nightlife on Redang is limited to resort bars offering blinking lights and Chinese tour groups belting out karaoke.
Redang does not have any backpacker accommodation. Most resort charge about RM200/night, always quoted for two people staying together, but steep discounts are available if you book a package or visit in the off or shoulder seasons.
One budget option is the campground at Teluk Kelong, but even this is more of a mid-range affair with prebuilt tents with beds, toilet/shower, electricity, etc. From RM80/tent/night with full board, can be booked via travel agents. It is curently close down.
There are no unusual health risks on Redang. Wear sunscreen and heed the warning flags on the beach, although they're more or less permanently set on green. Asian women travelling solo or in pairs may at times find themselves getting unwanted attention from local men working at resorts but it is relatively harmless and probably has its roots in cultural perceptions of gender roles.
Wearing bikinis and skimpy beachwear is acceptable and going topless is not. However, due to the culture it is preferably if you wear your swimming clothes decently.