The East Coast of Malaysia

RANTAU ABANG

Global Mark : 11.94

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
3 4 1 2 1 5 1 3 10.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
8 100% 50% (4) 75% (6) 10 to 17 13.88


Description : The turtle capital of Malaysia 

Comments : If you are not in love with those marine creatures, never mind ! The beach is lovely as well...

What to do ? Relax on the nice golden sand / Walk the deserted beach / Swim the empty sea / Learn about turtle this and that at the (guess what ?) Turtle Info Centre / Spot turtles... in aquarium or on TV ! / Study the look & size of a 16 days turtles' embryo / Cross the road and walk the countryside to discover why giant leatherback turtles only come to lay eggs here / Play football, on the beach or on grass / Spend the night on the beach hoping... / If lucky enough, respect the rules (remain 5m away, no torchlight nor flash, etc) & help protect those who are left / 

What you may not like ? Not learning how to make a turtle soup nor being offered any turtle egg to taste / More seriously, not seeing too many turtle in the wild nowadays / The "protect the turtles" propaganda next to dirty turtles' aquariums / The rubbish all around the small turtle hatchery on the beach (2mn south of the resorts) while one of the protection rules read "do not litter" / Waiting in vain (at least you had the fresh air) / The cheers of the crowd in peak season / 

How long ? Half a day and one long night 

Where to stay ? Two good places by the beach :

  • Awang's Beach Bungalows (09 8443500) / Room w. shower in bungalow 12(1) or 15(2), bigger 20, w. view 30, w. AC 50 / TV & video / Free water / Internet R5-6 per hour / Games on the beach / Batik demonstrations / Go there for the best offer of services and the cheapest prices / What you may not like : the small & basic rooms, the R3 wake up fee if turtles show up
  • Ismail Beach Resort (09 8454202), next to the above on a quieter section of beach / Room w. shower in spaced bungalow 20, family room 40, w. AC 80 / Free water on request / Go there for the best setting, and the nicest room w. ceiling fan, eventually at a great discounted price / What you may not like : the lack of backpackers atmosphere as limited English is spoken


Where to eat ? No turtles delicacies but the basic dishes, by the main road or the resorts. A small convenient store with ice creams can be found 200m north of the Petronas Station. 

Internet ? Awang's charge R5-6 per hour minimum

The Turtle Info Center ? Open in season (May to August) from 8:00 to 17:00 & 20:00 to 23:00 daily and off season (Sept to April) from 8:00 to 12:45 & 14:00 to 16:00 except Thursday afternoon and Friday. It is rather small but very informative and well presented. It is also the best place to finally see what a 275kg giant turtles look like. They run 15mn (bad quality) video every hour or so from 9:30 to 22:30 (in season) 

A walk to where it all started ? Why do Giant Leatherback Turtles comes exclusively to Rantau Abang to lay eggs (with the exception of the one or two who got lost) ? To discover the answer, click below or, much better for your experience, walk 40mn toward "Ke Batu Penyu" (signs at strategic locations), 2.4km away on the top of a hill offering also a nice view. The starting road is Jalan Masjid (road with a billboard in Malay, just north of the Petronas Station). Come back via Jalan Perpindahan a scenic road along swamps.

 << Discover the secret



Spotting real wild massive turtle ? August is the peak month but the egg-laying season officially last from May to September. Chances are also multiplied during high tides and full moon. Unfortunately, when turtles have a fair chance to be spotted, so can local tourists and the experience won't probably be that magic if among the crowd... 

 

Bus Schedules ? 

From Kuala Dungun :

To  Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Kemaman 4 ordi 2 day a lot 30mn
K. Terengganu 4 ordi 2 day a lot 30mn

Note : To Kuala Terengganu via Rantau Abang (R1, 30mn) & Marang (R2, 1.5 hrs)

From Kemaman :

To  Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Kuantan 3.25 ordi 1.5-2 6,8 to 20 a lot 30mn
K. Dungun 4 ordi 2 day a lot 30mn
K. Terengganu 6.8 ac 3 7:30 to 17:30 a few hour

Note : To Kuantan via Cherating (R1, 20-30mn)


The trip to Cherating : SSS / L / R1+R4+R1 / 30mn + 2 hours + 20mn / Buses
It all started from the main road with a comfortable AC bus without AC to Kuala Dungun, a stretched town with apparently little to do but with a great night market on Thursday (food, clothes & souvenirs)
I was a bit surprised to learn at the tiny bus station there that there were no buses down to Kuantan via Cherating (actually, there were buses to nowhere except K. Terengganu & Kemaman). Instead, we would have to take a bus to Kemaman first and another one from there. Two buses were indeed parked : an old one scheduled to leave within a few minutes and a more comfortable one (still without AC) 45 minutes later. The cost was the same : R4. So, off course, I took the old one ! 
Passing through town, I spotted a few ticket offices selling express buses to KL (in the morning & late evening). Dungun was not so isolated after all...
It took us 45mn to reach Paka, 19km away, thanks to numerous stops along the way. There, the scenery started to be pretty nice on the left : a small fishing village by a nice mosque with a dark blue dome. As I spotted at least one hotel, travelers lucky enough to have time could find rewarding to explore the area a bit...
The charm did not last long however as villages were soon replaced by factories, gas fields, refineries and steel manufactures. Welcome to industrial Malaysia !
Kamantan being another developed city, I jumped directly to a bus heading for Kuantan via Cherating. If you find yourself waiting for a bus, there is an internet place which charge R2.5 per hour (min. R0.8 for 10mn)
The last ride was fast but beware not making it too fast : avoid getting off at the first sign Patai Cherating (also a sign pointing to Palm Resort) as this road takes forever to reach the interesting GH. Instead, get off 2mn-500m later, by a big map of the area. This is where the bus should stop anyway...

See also the trip from Marang