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Wonderful Malaysia

The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort

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On the beautiful island of Redang, located on the east side of the peninsula of Malaysia, you have quite a few resorts. The Taaras Beach Spa Resort is one of the few internationally known resorts, and it is part of the Berjaya Group hotel chain. At the resort everything is organized perfectly, which makes it a very luxurious 5-star resort and the most luxurious resort on the island. The Taaras lies within a beautiful bay, north of Redang.

At the complex you have several wooden houses with a classic interior en appearance. There are also a few terraced houses, which usually exist of 4 houses. The resort has its own diving school, were you can book diving trips. You can also rent snorkeling equipment. Between October and March you will have the monsoon going through this area and as a result you can (almost) never snorkel or dive due to bad weather. However, The Taaras is one of the few resorts on Redang where you can stay during the monsoon season. Since you are reliable on transport to get to the island, and since there won’t be going any boats to the island during the monsoon season, you are better off not going to the east side of Malaysia during this period.

If you want to stay at The Taaras you are best off booking prior to your trip online. Prices are going to be cheapest online, especially with special discounts. We do not recommend just going to the island. Redang is a popular destination under the wealthier locals, and also quite popular with people who live in Singapore. If you do not book in advance, you are taking the risk of the resort being completely booked.

Redang is a true diving- and snorkeling paradise. Snorkeling can be done at many places through out the island. You can also snorkel in front of the resort, but there won’t be a lot of coral. There are plenty of beautiful diving sports, and a lot of divers will go to Redang since the view under water is very clear. The island next to Redang, called Perhentian, is a lot better for snorkeling; where Redang has better diving locations. Redang is easily accessible through the city of Kuala Terengganu. Just north of this city you have the fishers town of Merang; and this is where the boats to Redang depart from. The trip to Redang takes about 40 minutes by boat. When you arrive you will be awaited by an employee of the resort; and with a large golf cart you will be taken to the resort which lies on the northern side of the island.

Would you like to spend a couple of days in a luxurious resort on a tropical island, you should definitely consider staying at The Taaras.

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Wonderful Malaysia

3 Malaysian beaches in beach top 100 list

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CNN travel released a list with the top 100 best beaches recently. The first thing we did when we read the article was to scan for Malaysian beaches. It was great to discover one of our personal favorite beaches at place 13; Long Beach at Perhentian Kecil. At place 21 there is the beautiful Juara Beach at Tioman Island. At place 49 the beautiful Tanjung Rhu beach is listed; great to see Langkawi beaches made it to the list. The photograph above was taken at Perhentian, facing Coral Bay at Perhentian Besar.

Any beaches that you miss on the list?

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Wonderful Malaysia

10 best dive locations in Malaysia

Where can I find the best dive spots in Malaysia?

Malaysia has numerous great dive locations. The best dive sites in Malaysia can be found in the southeastern region of Sabah (on the island of Borneo). Easiest to reach are the dive sites at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but this region is prone to the yearly monsoon season between October and March. Below our top10, based on the dive conditions, bio-diversity and attractiveness.

1. Sipadan Island, Mabul Island and Kapalai Island

Diving at Sipadan Island in Malaysia

These three islands probably contain the best dive sites in the whole of Malaysia. Sipadan is by far the best place to enjoy scuba diving; it is also not that easy to actually dive at because of the restricting rules that are in place (daily permit). Mabul is known worldwide for its amazing muck diving conditions. Kapalai is a small sand bank, not that great for diving, but here you can find a very exclusive resort built on stilts. Actually both Sipadan and Mabul earn their own spot in this list, but since you can’t visit one (Sipadan) without the other (Mabul) we just listed the whole cluster as one entry.

2. Lankayan Island

Whale shark sighting at Lankayan Island in Malaysia

A small island located north of the city of Sandakan in eastern Sabah. Lankayan only has one (luxurious) resort and it’s all about diving and relaxing. Accommodation might be quite expensive for non-divers, they might be better off at numerous other islands. After Sipadan, Lankayan probably offers the best dive spots and diving conditions in Malaysia.

3. Layang-Layang Island

Diving at Layang-Layang Island in Malaysia

Layang-Layang is not a tropical island per se. It is a concrete landing strip with one resort and a marine base, located on a big sand bank located just below sea level. Layang-Layang is located in a remote area, where the underwater world has not been affected by human beings. Corals are in pristine conditions. Layang-Layang is a place to see big species and big schools of fish (not so much smaller stuff).

4. Mataking Island, Pom Island and Sibuan Island

Diving at Sibuan Island in Malaysia

Though not as great as diving conditions at the nearby islands of Sipadan and Mabul, the area surrounding Mataking, Pom and Sibuan still offers quite a few amazing dive sites (especially Sibuan is known for great muck diving). Mataking is a wonderful place to stay. There is a very luxurious resort from where you can enjoy dive trips in the area.

5. Redang Island

Diving at Redang Island in Malaysia

Redang is the first island in our list that is not located in Borneo. Redang Island lies within the Terengganu Marine Park, nearby the city of Kuala Terengganu at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Redang offers great dive sites and perfect dive conditions. It is a great place to start with your diving adventure, as prices of a 4 day PADI course are very affordable. Redang cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

6. Lang Tengah Island

Diving at Lang Tengah Island in Malaysia

Located between the more popular islands of Redang and Perhentian, the smaller island of Lang Tengah offers great diving opportunities. The island has a few nice resorts, and is also suitable for non-divers. Lang Tenggah cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

7. Tenggol Island

Diving at Tenggol Island in Malaysia

Tenggol Island is located at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It offers splendid diving conditions, but it is perhaps not suitable for beginners due to the currents that often play a big role in dives around the island. There are a few nice resorts on the island. Tenggol cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

8. Tioman Island (and the surround islands)

Diving conditions at Tioman are similar to the other popular islands at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Especially great about Tioman is that besides diving it is also a great place to do snorkeling, sunbathing and kayaking. The island is big enough to do numerous other fun activities. Possible downside might be that is not that easy to reach compared to other islands (unless you are willing to pay dearly for the direct KL – Tioman flight operated by Berjaya Air).

9. Perhentian Island

Diving at Perhentian Island in Malaysia

Perhentian is the best island in Malaysia to do a diving course. The diving conditions are splendid for beginners, and there are many dive spots available to enjoy immediately after finishing the PADI course. Perhentian has calm waters and an abundance of marine life. Besides diving it is probably one of the best islands for snorkeling, with shallow reefs with pretty nice corals and great marine life (also big fish and many turtles). At Perhentian prices for fun dives and for the diving course are probably the lowest in Malaysia. If you are a beginner, Perhentian Island is definitely the place to be!

10. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Diving at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Malaysia

Right opposite of the city of Kota Kinabalu in western Sabah (Borneo) lies the wonderful Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TAR Marine Park). This area contains numerous dive sites that are definitely worth a visit. Dive schools mainly operate from out of Kota Kinabalu, though there are also a few that are located on the islands. Similar to Perhentian Island this is a great place to start diving by doing a 4 day PADI course as the dive conditions are optimal for beginners.

Dive locations in Malaysia that almost made it into our top10

Of course there are many other great places to dive in Malaysia, below a few that didn’t make it to our top10, but are still very much worth a visit (especially if you take certain non-dive aspects into consideration):

11. Mantanani Island; a little bit better than TAR Marine Park but also a bit more remote located.

12. Kapas Island; great option, small island, easy to reach from Kuala Terengganu. Many (better) dive sites at nearby islands though.

13. Talang-Talang Island; small island nearby Kuching. Not really a renowned dive spot, but might become one in the future.

14. Tiga Island; popular island nearby Kota Kinabalu. Better dive sites at the east coast of Sabah, but still some very nice sites.

15. Mengalum Island; if you are only staying around Kota Kinabalu.

16. Pulau Payar; your best option if you are only visiting the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

And some turtle islands (for those that do not dive):

17. Selingan Island (Turtle Island near Sandakan); not really a perfect dive spot, but the best place to visit to learn more about turtles.

18. Satang Island (Turtle Island near Kuching); another turtle island in Malaysia.

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