Pulau Redang - Terengganu Malaysia



Pulau Redang Marine Park is made up of a group of islands namely Pulau Redang, Pulau Pinang,


Pulau Lima, Pulau Ekor Tebu, Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Pulau Susu Dara, Pulau Lang Tengah and Pulau Kapas.

The Redang group of islands are known as 'continental islands'. During the Pleistocene period, there were intervals when the sea level dropped, creating land areas that connected the islands with mainland. When the continental ice caps melted in the later periods, the islands were once again isolated from the mainland. What we see today is the result of the earth's climatic and geographical changes that have occurred over millions of years ago and this also includes the sea landscape .

Pulau Redang is the largest island in the park, about 7km long and 6km wide. There are a number of tiny uninhabited islands sprinkled around Pulau Redang itself such as Pulau Ling, Pulau Kerengga Besar and Pulau Paku Kecil. These islands harbour much life beneath the rocky outcrops and pearly white pockets of beaches. A natural playground for divers and snorkellers alike, the islands are within easy reach by boat from Pulau Redang.

The Redang Archipelago is truly a gift sent from the heavens. The water surrounding these islands is teeming with marine life. About 500 species of living, breathing soft and hard corals create a wondrous seascape just below the white caps. And in turn these reef-building variety of corals shelter a host of inhabitants - a myriad species of bivalves and fishes. It forms part of Indo-Pacific Ocean's breeding ground and nursery for many species of fish and other marine life. Sponges, algae and plankton provide a rich soup of nutrient for the thriving community. Green and hawksbill turtles drag themselves onto the white, sandy beaches to deposit their fertilised eggs into deep holes excavated under cover of night. Flying foxes, pythons, birds, mousedeers, monkeys and iguanas take refuge under the canopy of the forest. And in the late evenings when all human activities have quieten down, listen closely for you will here the heartbeat of the land, the whispers of the wind and the secrets of life - at Redang

The people

In 1770, the English EIC or the East India Company was considering Redang Islands as a serious contender for a trading post. The Dutch were already making headway into Indonesia and Malaysia, and this gave them main control over the spice trade. The British were fast running out of time and they were desperate to gain a foothold in the South China Seas trade. But lengthy talks with local rulers only produced inconclusive results and the English dropped the idea of a trading post here for an island off Borneo's Northern Coast. Pulau Redang fell into a lull of peaceful slumber, until Bugis settlers arrived. They settled on Teluk Kalong, a beach on the eastern side of Pulau Redang.

The original people of Pulau Redang are descendants of the Bugis settlers who sailed all the way from the Celebes (Sulawesi) in Indonesia to start a new life far away from their homeland where local discontentment were starting to build up from the many centuries of clan wars. The Bugis were reputed to be formidable warriors and skilled seafarers. For centuries they fared well as trade merchants travelling round the Indonesian Archipelago through to the Malayan lands. During the 18th Century, many Bugis migrants came to the Malay Peninsular. They were eager to find a land free of overlord exaction. They made alliances with the Malay Sultans and some even offered their services as mercenaries, fighting for different warring factions.

The Bugis migrants settled on the west coast of Malaysia especially in the states of Johore and Negri Sembilan. But there were a few who plied the East Coastal waters in search of paradise. After a long search, a boat full of migrants landed on Redang. Batin (Batin meaning Holy Man) Talib, one of the 7 siblings who made up the early settlers, moved his village from Teluk Kalong to an island just south of Pulau Redang.

These days, Redang has a variety of different accommodation catered to tourists and holidaymakers. These resorts are located at Pasir Panjang, a few bays away from the village
A perfect shelter from storms, the island was named Pulau Pinang after the many Betelnut (Pinang) trees found growing there. However, not all the 7 Bugis settlers stayed on Pulau Redang. A few made their way to the mainland and one decided to stay on Pulau Perhentian.


As the population expanded in the later years, villagers began moving to the Redang River estuary, just a short boatride directly across from the old village at Pulau Pinang. The state government had a new village built for the locals in 1976 and named it Kampung Air (Water village). The entire village rested precariously on stilts by the waters' edge but surprisingly was robust and resilient enough to endure the raging storms and torrential rains that hit the oastal regions year in, year out. The entire village on Pulau Pinang moved across to Kampung Air and there the fisherfolk lived contentedly until their recent move again. This time, the population was relocated approximately 4km inland.

The Marine Park Centre

The Centre is located where Batin Talib had his early kampung set up on Pulau Pinang. The exhibition hall and turtle hatchery is open to visitors. A conservation charge of RM5.00 per adult and RM2.50 per child is payable for every visitor. On getting there, you will need to arrange a boat with your resort or hop in with the bands of snorkellers going off to the marine park centre for some snorkelling activity. Resorts conduct frequent boat trips to the centre for guests to swim with the colourful and diverse variety of reef fish resident in this bay.

Chagar Hutang Turtle Research Unit

We volunteered ourselves as 'dogsbodies' at Chagar Hutang in August of 1998. Dr.Chan, the person in charge of the SEATRU unit at Terengganu's University Pertanian Malaysia could only accommodate us for 4 days instead of the one-week volunteer programme. But we felt it was a chance of a lifetime and took it with no hesitation.

Pasir Chagar Hutang lies in its own little bay at the northern end of the island, just out of reach of holidaymakers. There are no through roads and the only way to get there is by boat or trekking through unmarked jungle. Moreover, the islanders believe that at Chagar Hutang stays a group of magical beings known as Orang Bunian. These 'beings' grant wishes in return for offerings brought to them by those who seek their help. So if you get totally disoriented or lost in the jungle, you could try asking for help..

Pasir Chagar Hutang is probably the only stretch of beach on Pulau Redang that is litter free. And that's because each morning research assistants and volunteers scour the entire length collecting every little bit of litter washed ashore the night before.

Foetus collected from a nest are analysed for research purposes

There were other chores for volunteers to carry out in the daytime such as locating freshly laid nests; measuring the distance of the nests from the shoreline and the foliage line; relocating nests if they were found to be too close to the water's edge; checking for any marauding monitor lizards eager for a meal; digging up hatched nest sites and counting pieces of eggshells of hatched eggs and recording the findings. Remaining unhatched eggs are analysed if there were foetal deformities or if they were eaten by predators like ghost crabs and certain types of plant roots that bore deep into the nests to gouge on these food source. A turtle could lay as many as 8 times in one season that lasts from April until late September.

But the exciting part is when the turtles come ashore to deposit their eggs at night. Turtles are extremely vulnerable on land and any unusual movement will send them crawling back into the water.So we had to work without torches. Sometimes when frightened, they may drop their eggs into the sea as they frantically swim away from danger on land. Extreme care has to be taken when approaching turtles.

The females drag themselves up the sloping beach in search of its perfect nesting site. Some females can be a bit fussy. She can dig 2 to 3 different sites before settling comfortably on one. Once the turtle is in the process of laying her 80 odd eggs, we can then move in to tag her, remove barnacles from her shell, search for any injuries and measure her. It's wonderful to be so close with such ancient creatures whose ancestors have weathered millions of years of change and have survived. Sadly, the only threat to their continuity now is our ignorance and greed. Every year, thousands of turtles are slaughtered in Bali for the tourist trade and the local festivities.

Another reason why torches and hurricane lamps and other artificial light sources are not permitted on the beach at night is because bright lights tend to confuse them and sometimes, the hatchlings would follow in the direction of the lights, leading them away from the sea and reducing their survival chances.

Nests can hatch any time of the day. We've seen poor little hatchlings that couldn't make it down to the water in time before being frazzled by the fiery zap of the sun. But once they hit water, these hatchlings swim vigorously out to sea - far away from the shallows where predators such as sharks and gulls make easy picking meals of them. Eating nothing in the process ,they survive on the rich yolk stored in its body that provides it enough energy to swim and swim for 30 days far into the open ocean.

W e think that if each nest contains 80 - 100eggs, surely there is enough to produce plenty of hatchlings. But with so many dangers along the way, mortality rate is very high and researchers estimate that only 1 in 1000 actually makes it to adulthood. And to think that it takes roughly 40years for turtles such as the green turtles and hawksbill turtles to reach maturity, a little math will tell us that, they're in for a rough ride! If you would like to know more about what's being done to help these turtles in Malaysia, click to Seatru or call Tel : +609-6683163

Activities

There is so much to do on and around Pulau Redang, one can return year after year and still find new places to explore. The reef is teeming with fish, turtles, live corals and other spineless creatures. There's snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and kayaking available at most resorts.

The triggerfish

a friend or a foe?

Triggerfish attack divers because:

1. it is trying to protect its nest

from potential predators.

2. it may have learnt from

previous encounters with divers that

they are dangerous and so it attacks first rather than be attacked

Rent a kayak or a canoe and paddle out to sea. Always with a buddy of course. The sea changes its hue as we splice through the glassy clear, calm surface. From topaz to turquoise and then to deep ocean blue - we find ourselves out in the open spaces of the South China Sea. The feeling of being totally at one with this singular vast body of water, sends mixed signals of fear, relief, uncertainty and peace. But yet this ocean, this open space seems so unfamiliar but yet so familiar..It is so easy to drift in and out of delirium when in a paradise such as this. Go ahead, try it !

Snorkelling

The House Reef

There are many things to look out for in the water and for the untrained eye, it can get a little disorientating. The reef needlefish is a common sight in the shallow waters. Thin, silver and long, with a needle-like snout, sometimes in the corner of your eye, you can see them tagging along. They can actually tag for the entire time you are in the water. They're harmless creatures, just as curious about us as we are about them. Then there is the parrotfish, with its beautiful display of pastel blue, yellow and pink liveries. Parrotfish is distinctively a reef fish. Reef fish parade their vibrant colours proudly whereas pelagic or free-swimming fish are usually dull to camouflage themselves when in the open water. Another fish seen in the area is the star pufferfish, an odd-looking fish with sensitive bambi-looking eyes. It usually shies away from snorkellers but can be seen in a distance foraging for food amongst the corals. The bannerfish can also be found. More commonly known as butterflyfish, bannerfish are slim in shape so that they can escape from their predators by squeezing into thin crevices. There are the longfin, eight banded and lined butterfly fishes also found swimming the coral gardens. Batfish are common too. Often travelling in small groups, they too are curious creatures and may come close to snorkellers. Usually on the sea bed can be seen the goatfish. These goatfish is so named as they don 'goatees'. It takes some training to spot these fish as they camouflage into the sandy seabed well.

Just to the end of pasir panjang beach, where Redang Lagoon Chalets is located, is a popular snorkelling area. Here, you can find young black-tip reef sharks swimming around the coral. This is where they stay until they are large enough to venture into deeper water. This area is in fact a shark nursery. They are harmless and are only about 1½ feet in length but don't try feeding them! In the quieter corners of the bay, you may be able to meet with a green or hawksbill turtle- often found circling around, looking for a variety of food - jellyfish, crustacean etc. Turtles are very wary of people so it's no point shouting to your buddy to get them over to your spot. One flip of their powerful flippers and they would have disappeared into the darkness of the sea.

If you would like to know more about these fishes, click to Coral reefs and fishes.

The Marine Park Centre

Resort operators are very fond of taking their snorkellers to the park centre. That's because since gazetting the islands as a marine park, the fish has been pretty much left alone to nurture and breed. The resident fish have grown so accustomed to humans that they eagerly await snorkellers' visits. It's Pavlov's law working here: sound of snorkellers splashing in the water equates with Feeeding Time! No, snorkellers are not part of their food chain. Guides often bring along bread and sometimes biscuits to encourage interaction between fish and snorkellers. However, these little fish can be overzealous during feeding times so be careful. Here, snorkellers mingle with damselfishes like the Neon damsels, lemon damsels, Humbug dascyllus, bluegreen chromis and, sometimes there are butterfly fishes, angelfishes and sergeants - a fireworks display of colours as they encircle morsels of food and disperse again to regroup elsewhere.

PLEASE NOTE: the feeding of young sharks and marine predators are a REAL NO!NO! So if you do see your guides doing STUPID things like that, please pass on this message; these animals are wild and feeding them can change their habits. So when they become adults one day - you may be included in their list of food variety. So be smart ...don't create a monster - that will 'eat' into your profits!

Trekking

There is a relatively easy trek through a variety of lowland, mangrove and dipterocarp forests. We went through the forest without a guide, but just in case you need a little bit of orientation, take a look at the sketch map above. Just behind Redang Paradise Resort and Redang Bay Resort are little pathways leading to the trek which can be difficult to spot sometimes. Ask resort staff to lead you to the start of the trail if you're unsure.

NOW - there are a few pointers here to help you get through the trek unscathed. We share our experience with you on what we did not do and suffered as a consequence:

1. do slap on lots of mosquito repellent. The mosquitoes here are incredibly persistent - they cling on for dear life and nothing deters them from coming back for more of that fortified blood juice. Don't forget places like the back of knees, shoulders, nape, forehead and earlobes.

2. Follow the red cable, the power line which brings electricity supply to the resort operators at Pasir Panjang. The trek runs parallel to this cable and where it veers off, there are faint but noticeable red paint markings on the tree trunks lining the trek.

3.Walk as quietly as possible otherwise you wont get to see any wildlife along the path. And moreover, like us, we lost our way for a while and had to backtrack because we were more engrossed in the chatter than the navigation.

4. Do not aggravate the macaques! These monkeys live in groups and can get aggressive when provoked.

5. Do not wear slip-ons or slippers. The forest floor is intertwined with roots and vines and can trip you if not careful. Slippers may not give you a good grip on the slippery ground either.

6. Try not to wear loud colours. Earthy tones will blend into the surroundings and increase chances of spotting birds, mousedeers and monitor lizards.

At the start of the trail, trekkers will be greeted by a family of macaque monkeys who have taken to foraging around the trash pits nearby. The resorts bury their daily refuse in these pits and the monkeys have taken this to be their permanent feeding ground. These monkeys will generally retreat as humans approach but not without a little display. The Alpha male barks and gnarls, bearing his teeth at intruders and is soon followed by the rest of the family working themselves into a frenzy of screams and branch shaking. It is a little unnerving at first but do not run.. walk ahead slowly but keep your eyes on them and leave them to their little act. It's after all, just an act. Keep looking out for the red cable, this would take you on track.

After such hullabaloo, the forest seems so quiet, so eerie - we walked further on for 10min but thought that we had already lost our way. But we soon stumbled onto a clearer path. This path is interesting as the trees are labelled with their common names and their botanical names. If you would like to know more about the variety of trees found there. The doodles below show various kinds.

Trek into the jungle and beyond

Not far down the path, a little stream adds some colour to the brown and greens of the background. Take a rest here but be warned that that'll not be much of a rest as the mosquitoes making kamikaze attacks on your vulnerable bits will keep you going! As we crossed the stream, we remembered some advice leftover from another trekking expedition not long ago at Taman Negara, the largest National Park in Peninsular Malaysia. The advice?? Do not scatter the litter of dry leaves, walk nimbly because what you might rouse up more than you can can handle. And that is?? Scorpions of course! Scorpions love hiding under dead leaves - this is where they lie in wait for their prey. Pythons are common in these jungles although they are difficult to spot. They too love leaf litter to lie in for the odd nap or two.

Tree species found along the trek

As we trekked towards the peak, we found the 'milestone' markings that showed the way to Teluk Dalam(Deep bay). The peak was a great place to rest, the mosquitoes had left us alone by now (perhaps sweating profusely creates a natural repellent against these most unpleasant creatures.) It was actually a relief to know that the buzzing in our ears was not attributed to tinnitus but the mosquitoes. After all, we were silly enough not to arm ourselves with repellent for the trip.

The view of the Deep bay and Pasir Panjang was worth the trek. From here, the area seemed deserted, serene, virginal - untainted, almost the island where the Swiss Robinson Crusoe family would have chosen to live in. This is where one gets to meditate and reflect without having much effort put into it.

Down the peak, we walked through a mangrove swamp containing prime examples of mangrove pines. This led to a shallow stream and before we realised it, we were already at Teluk Dalam(Deep Bay). The 2 km walk left us rather in need of ice cold beer which were perfectly chilled as if anticipating our arrival.

Updates on Pulau Redang :

Pulau Redang has changed tremendously over the past 15 years. No longer is it an island for lovers of nature and tranquility. It is fast becoming a place for tourists who do not seem to appreciate the natural beauty of their surroundings. A 400 room resort has since been built on long beach itself and with such developments, 4 discos and 4 karaoke shops have been set up. The discos and karaokes are located at Redang Pelangi Resort, Redang Laguna Resort, Redang Reef Resort and Redang Holiday Beach Villa. If you're planning on having a quiet, relaxed holiday, Paradise Resort and Coral Redang are still a good bet for a good time. Redang Holiday Beach Villa is a good place to stay if you have a group of 6 to 8 persons going. A number of semi-detached chalets for larger groups are seated on the cliff with a wonderful view of the sea. That is, if you don't mind the noise from the disco and karaoke but that will only last til 12.00midnight. The best time to go to Redang is on weekdays when large tour groups are few and far between. However, having said all, Redang still has it's charms and the water is as beautiful as ever. Just the hordes of tourists are a little unnerving....

Best time to go

The monsoon season on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia sets in towards end of October and lasts through till late February/Early March. The best time to visit the East Coast is in March and April especially for diving where visibility can hit 40m. It is not advisable to visit this part of Peninsular Malaysia at its peak of the monsoon season - that is, November till early January. The seas are rough and the boat and resort operators are closed between October and February.

Packing Checklist

Swimsuit

Snorkelling gear - mask, snorkel, fins, booties, life jacket (prescriptive mask if required)

Diving equipment- mask, snorkel, fins, booties, regulator and octopus, BCD, dive table, dive logs, marine life ready reckoner, dive computers, knife, lycra or 3mm skin suits, gloves, underwater torches, dive watch - it's advisable to bring your own kit as rental can be expensive

Dive card

Life jackets especially for children

Waterproof pouches, torch

Clothing - shorts, t-shirts, sarong, towel, light dress

Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturiser, after-tan lotion, shampoo, soap, women's sanitary products, shaving foam and shaver, comb

Sun block, mosquito repellent, mosquito netting, hammock

Travel journal, reading material

Binoculars

Prescriptive medicine, dietary supplements, motion sickness tablets

Amenities

- Electricity

There is electricity on the island and run on normal 240V.

- Telecommunication

The general phones are at the reception and some resorts allow overseas call. 012,018,019 can be received at certain areas on the island

- Nursery

The resorts on Pasir Panjang beach do not carry such facilities

- Photo Developing

There are no developing shops on the island. If required, Kuala Terengganu town has 1 hour developing shops.

- Money changer

A few resorts will be able to change US dollars and Singapore Dollars. All resorts have credit card facilities: visa and MasterCard preferred.

- Language

The staff at all resorts can speak English but if need to, it will be best to talk to the reception for any enquiries, requests or grievances.

- Things to buy

The resorts do sell some toiletries and some t-shirts and island souvenirs but nothing to shout about. There is however, a sundry shop at Redang Bay Resort where snacks, bottled mineral water and toiletries can be bought.

DO NOT BUY any souvenirs made from corals, shells and other marine animals such as starfishes. Anyone found in possession of such items will be fined RM5,000. If the villagers don't know better, advise them not to exploit their environment. Even dead corals - the bleached ones sometimes found washed ashore should be left where it is found. Did you know that hermit crabs do not grow their own shells? ..they inhabit abandoned or empty shells. For all you shell collectors out there, have a thought for these poor, homeless creatures.

Getting there and away

By Car

From Kuala Lumpur

Head east towards Kuantan. You will be driving on the Karak Highway (Highway 2) all through to Kuantan, which takes approximately 3 - 3½ hours. Once arriving on the outskirts of Kuantan town, it can get a little tricky. Head towards the Northeast, on highway 3 (the coastal road) or Highway 14 which will lead you to Kuala Terengganu.

From Penang

Head towards Kota Baharu via the East-West Highway (highway 4). Perhaps one of the most scenic routes found in the Peninsular, the East-West Highway is one of the last frontiers to be conquered, so to speak. A stronghold for the communists in the 60's and 70's where terrorist activity was rampant in the area then. This may be the reason why going through this part of Malaysia seems a little alien. There are neither plantations nor housing development lining the highway. Zip back 60years and this would probably have been the landscape for most parts of Malaysia. Little trunk roads splitting dense forests, with no evidence of civilisation far into the horizon.

Look out for the 'Elephant Crossing' Signs. Wild elephants forage at night and may cross the highway to other feeding grounds within their roaming range.

From Kota Baharu

head South for Merang. This is a seaside village just outside of Kuala Terengganu. If you're unfamiliar.Kuala Terengganu is Terengganu's capital city. Merang is really where you should be going to catch a boat to Redang but you may have a bit of problem leaving your car as there are few long-term carparks. Ask your tour agent for further information on safe park.

From Johor or Singapore

travel north on the North-South Highway and exit at Yong Peng. From Yong Peng, take highway 1 to Labis and later onto Segamat. Segamat will lead you to HighwaThe trek into the jungle starts at the end of the beachy 12 and all the way to Kuantan. From Kuantan, head towards the Northeast on highway 3 (the coastal road) or Highway 14 which will take you to Kuala Terengganu.

At Kuala Terengganu

either park your car at a designated safe park (a daily parking rate of RM8 - 10fee will be levied) and then hitch a ride on the connecting shuttle to Merang village - all hassle free and arranged by your travel agent .OR make your own way to Merang village and park at the seaside restaurant and resort for a fee of RM4 per day. The only problem with this arrangement is that from here to the Merang jetty;is a pretty long way off and lugging all that dive equipment etc will put out even the most enduring, enthusiastic, hungry-for-a-holiday-holidaymaker! Unless a taxi happens to drive by on this quiet stretch of beachfront, you'll have to make it to the jetty on foot.

By Coach

Please refer to Kuala Terengganu and/or Merang for coach schedule

By Boat

From Merang Jetty to Pulau Redang

From Merang Jetty, there many speedboats awaiting guests to Pulau Redang and Lang Tengah. Different speedboats are attached to different resorts on the island. If you have booked with a resort on the island, more than likely the appointed boat will already be there waiting for you. Some boats belong to the resort and is therefore easy to pick out with the resort's name clearly printed. But many are hired boats and belong to private operators so just inform the boatman which resort you are staying at, and he will direct you to the right boat.

Delay is a normal occurrence. There have been occasions when passengers had to wait quite a while for other guests delayed enroute, so be prepared! Pulau Redang is roughly 22km from the Merang Estuary and the boatride takes approximately 45mins.

From Shahbandar Jetty at Kuala Terengganu to Pulau Redang

There are several resorts who have their boat transfers out of Kuala Terengganu town itself. So when you book you accommodation, just make sure which is you boat departure point

BUT A WORD OF ADVICE: please bring your own lifejackets especially for young kids as many boat operators do not carry child-sized jackets. You can get this at Carrefour in Mid-Valley Megamall or at Toys-R-Us outlets

If you have some time to spare at the jetty, take a stroll around - savour fresh coconut juice served straight from the fruit, for only RM2.50 each. Or grab a bite at the roadside stalls nearby where they can whip up a serving of fried rice topped with fried egg for you.

By Air

Malaysia Airlines

Air Asia

FireFlyz

Please note that all information with regards to PACKAGE DEALS, ACCOMMODATION AND AIR,LAND&SEA TRANSFERS are subject to changes without prior notice as stipulated by the respective operators concerned. Please check for confirmed time schedules upon booking your holiday.