By Nithia Devan
26 January, 2012
Sun, sand, sea and nothing to do but laze around all day. Sounds like the ideal beach holiday, doesn’t it? If you are short on time and need to get away, you might want to consider Redang, an idyllic setting where you can recharge your batteries.
Redang Island, locally known as Pulau* (*Island in Malay) Redang or just "Redang" is one of the largest islands located in the South China Sea, off the northeast coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Travel there by boat from Merang or Kuala Terengganu. There is also a small airport with services operated by Berjaya Air from Singapore (Changi Airport Budget Terminal) and from Kuala Lumpur – a great timesaver!
Like the rest of Malaysia's East Coast, Redang is affected by the northeast monsoon, so most resorts are closed and ferry transport schedules are severely restricted between November and February.Pulau Redang is gazetted and protected as a Marine Park. Nowadays, only the bigger islands like Redang and its neighbours, Lang Tengah, Perhentian and Kapas, have resort facilities for visitors. The management of Marine Parks primarily involves protection of the sensitive marine and terrestrial ecosystems by controlling the impact from human activities. These include waste and pollution management and conservation of coral reefs and terrestrial habitats. A marine park fee (RM5) is levied on all visitors to the island.
Conservation Site for Turtles
Redang is also an important conservation site for turtles. The local species of sea turtles are Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Leatherback but these populations have decreased by nearly 99% in the last 50 years due to the harvesting of turtle eggs. This indiscriminate economic exploitation has resulted in fewer turtles returning to nest on the island. Furthermore, artificial lighting from buildings confuse hatchling turtles as they instinctively crawl towards light and get lost on land instead of heading out to sea. There are numerous Government initiated schemes to save the sea turtles or “penyu” as they are known locally. The beaches on Redang which are major nesting sites for turtles have been declared a Turtle Sanctuary.
Sights and Activities
Redang is very low on sights and most visitors spend their time lazing on the beach or exploring the corals. You might meet the local wildlife like inquisitive monkeys, which you should not feed, energetic squirrels and large monitor lizards. But the best way to enjoy your time is to laze in the crystal clear waters, which are as warm and lulling as a bath.
Snorkelling is the number one activity on Redang and there are some spectacular coral reefs. However, a rise in sea temperature and increased human activity have caused bleaching of coral reefs close to the beach, although it is still possible to find reefs by taking a snorkelling tour by boat. Scuba diving is another popular pastime. The waters around the island are usually crystal clear, although visibility can drop dramatically after a storm. 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. Or you can opt to go kayaking or take a trip on a glass bottomed boat to go turtle watching and feed the reef fish.
There are several resorts on Redang but the best one is the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort. It is situated in a bay with an exclusive beach. No overcrowding, no screaming children, plentiful beach loungers and calm turquoise waters, gentle waves and powdery white sand. Paradise indeed, and within easy reach of Singapore!