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 15 m 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 thunderstorms. 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.
The people here are mainly Malays who grow crops and raise cows, goats and chickens.
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.
- 1 Redang Airport (RDN IATA). No longer serves commercial flights, so flying here is only an option if you have your own personal aircraft, or if you charter one.
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, 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 RM100 per adult and RM50 per child aged 2-12 years. Resorts can schedule onward travel and can accommodate 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 RM400 for up to 6 people, with the journey taking approximately 60 minutes.
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 organised water taxi services) or clambering across the 1½-hour jungle trails (actual crossing time is 30-40 min) leading from Pasir Panjang north to the Berjaya Beach Resort and south to Redang Kelong Resort.
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 conscious 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.
- Coral Redang Divers, Pasir Panjang (at Coral Redang Island Resort). Professionally run PADI outfit with custom-built dive boats. Single dives from RM90 and an extra RM45 for gear hire.
- Redang Bay Divers, Pasir Panjang (at Redang Bay Resort). Dive station here is not as sophisticated as that in Coral, but the friendly and helpful staff make up for it. Only MAUI instructors on the island. Single dives from RM90 and an extra RM60 for gear hire.
- Redang Pelangi Dive Centre, email@example.com. Pasir Panjang. Competitive price, offering dive services, courses as well as Scuba Discovery for non-divers. Professional Dive Master and Instructor from either PADI/SDI certification. Single dives from RM90 and an extra RM50 for gear hire.
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 3.2-km (2-mile) park limits.
Underwater cameras also available for rental at RM30 per day with pictures burnt to 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 23:00, 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. The smaller souvenir shops that are not attached to the convenience shops are frequently 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.
- Redang Laguna Food Court, Pasir Panjang (at Redang Laguna Resort). Don't be put off by the name, this is a simple full-service restaurant offering the some of the most authentic local food on the island. The menu covers the usual Chinese and Malay favorites, but throws in spicy Thai-style salads (called here kerabu, RM10) as well as Terengganu's state dish, the fish sausage keropok lekor (RM2). Still, the best deal here is the curried fish heads, a huge bowl of which costs just RM8 and feeds three (reservation 24 hr in advance required). Open for dinner only.
- Sandfly Cafe, Pasir Panjang (next to Redang Bay Resort). Serves up basic local fare at half the price of the hotel restaurants as well as a limited Western menu, and the second-floor seating is pleasantly breezy. Try the beehoon ikan masin (fried rice vermicelli with fish, RM5) and the ais kacang (shaved ice with syrup and goodies, RM3.5). Open all day.
The 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.
- Redang Pelangi Chalet (formerly Ayu Mayang Resort), Pasir Panjang. A basic operation offering simple but functional chalets with air-con & hot water. Friendly staff with basic service. Ideal for snorkeling and diving packages. Contact: +609 6242 158 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Redang Pelangi Resort, ☏ , email@example.com. Full board accommodation in wooden rooms with air-conditioning and attached bathroom. Package includes accommodation, meals, snorkeling trips as well boat transfers from Merang Jetty to Redang. A cozy and friendly staff to provide a home away from home services. Ideal for snorkeling and diving packages.
- Redang Lagoon Chalet, ☏ . Offers simple wooden rooms in traditional malay arhitecture with built in bathrooms and air-conditioning at RM100-150/night. Food can be bought at the canteen at ~RM10 for an all-you-can-eat buffet meal (halal food only). Package of 3 days 2 nights start at RM315 per person including air-conditioned room with attached bathroom, 8 meals, return boat transfer from mainland, 3 snorkeling trips and rental of snorkeling mask and lifejacket.
- Redang Bay Resort. Reasonable rooms with air conditioning. It's a bit like a Butlins resort, with announcements made on a speaker system. Mostly caters for package deal snorkeling trips for Malaysians. They fill boats with up to 30 snorkelers in life jackets. Food at the canteen is reasonable, though it offers no choice.
- Berjaya Redang Beach Resort, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Located in Teluk Dalam Kecil, this Malaysian-style resort offers a wide range of recreation activities. Better rates during low season.
- Coral Redang Island Resort, ☏ . Pasir Panjang. A small 40-room operation offering comfortable beachside chalet accommodation with a pool. The perfect place for a quiet island getaway. Food is reasonable. One of the better locations for snorkeling as it's between the two areas accessible from the beach, the water is protected by land mass on either side and therefore extremely calm here and free of beach debris.
- Laguna Redang Resort, ☏ . Pasir Panjang. The largest and one of the newest of Redang's resorts with 212 rooms, pleasantly done in a pseudo-Thai style, and with good access to the beach. Rooms are very clean and comfortable, all are set in large 2-floor wooden buildings and some are quite a distance from the beach. Pool, jacuzzi, three restaurants, Internet cafe. Due to the large size of the hotel, all organised activities (especially snorkeling and dining) can feel very overcrowded. Can be quite noisy due to night activities. Rates from RM440/night.
- Sari Pacifica Hotel, Resort & Spa - Lang Tengah, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:30. The resort is built in local traditional Malaysian “kampung”-style architecture. The reception and restaurant building enjoys glorious views of the setting sun as it descends over the peninsula. All resort villas feature king-size beds while some rooms come with double queen beds. Best rates on official website start at US$350.
- Redang Beach Resort, ☏ . Pasir Panjang. Redang Beach Resort offers basic and comfortable accommodation of 120 chalets, with both standard and deluxe rooms for your choices. All rooms are air-conditioned with attached toilets and bathrooms. These rooms are specially designed to cater the needs of family, couple and individual trips. Room rates around RM310/night.On the main beach of Redang island, next to Laguna Redang resort.
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 preferable to dress a bit more conservatively.