The Malaysian state of Pahang, as you already know, has a long and scenic coastline facing the blue waters of the South China Sea.
It is a paradise of white sandy beaches and tropical coastal forests integrated with swaying coconut palms and pines.
And therefore it is not surprising that some of the most popular and renowned beaches in West Malaysia are found in Pahang.
I take you now first to the three most popular beaches around Kuantan -- those enthusiastically patronised by the locals -- and let you seek the beach and the sunshine location of your choice.
At another page, we will explore other serene and quiet but no less delightful beaches in Pahang ... for your enjoyment and pleasure.
So, let’s start with the most popular beach nearest to Kuantan...
Teluk Chempedak is located about 5 kilometres from Kuantan. It has long been a very popular and favorite weekend retreat for the locals.
And foreign tourists to Kuantan should not miss Teluk Chempedak as much as it is a "definite must" for local visitors to Kuantan town -- without which a Kuantan visit is not complete.
The white sandy beach and the beautiful casuarinas and pine trees line the coast, with some rocky promontories facing the incessant waves of the South China Sea. All these combined to make the beach serene and at the same time delightful.
You can see the boats of the fishermen at sea during the day, and the twinkling lights of their boats at night. The fishing village of Tanjung Api and Beserah is only about 5 km away on either side of Teluk Chempedak.
Engage yourself in water sports at Telok Chempedak. You can swim, sun-bathe, sail, surf, water-ski and jet scooter, to your heart’s delight. And its a perfect place to unwind after a tough business meeting.
Or bring your mat and towel, put on your screen lotion, and just laze on the white sandy beach. Bathe in the sunlight…… and then in the evening watch the sunset over the sea horizon.
You can take a stroll on the wooden walkway at Teluk Pelindung nearby, and watch the waves breaking on the rocks of the promontory.
Go for a jungle trek there and observe the diversity of trees lining the forest and watch out for its inhabitants -- assorted varieties of birds, insects, squirrels and monkeys are there.
The main hotel fronting the beach is the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Hotel, an international class hotel, with modern dining and banquet facilities, tennis courts and other sports facilities, and not forgetting, a lively discotheque to swing the night away. As part of the Hyatt international chain, its rooms are periodically upgraded to cater for tourists from all over the world.
You should also visit the handicraft outlet just nearby the hotel if you want to bring home memorable souvenirs.
As a side-note, I wish to relate to you my personal story connected with this Hyatt Regency hotel.
You see, my first responsibility when I started work in Kuantan, Pahang in 1979 was, among others, to monitor the construction and completion of both the Club Med at Cherating and this hotel, which was originally named Hyatt Kuantan.
It is here that I learnt an important lesson from the construction engineers -- that at construction sites, always look down when you walk, because nails are everywhere!.
The Hyatt has in fact progressively grown, upgraded and expanded considerably since then, enjoying I believe, good occupancy.
But in those days there were no international class hotels in Kuantan to really bring in the tourists. The Pahang State Government then correctly saw the potential of the tourist industry to spur the growth of Kuantan and Pahang as a whole. Hence the development of this international class hotel located at a beautiful beach near Kuantan.
Now,whenever I come back again to Teluk Chempedak (which is often), and I just watch the waves breaking on the beach and rocks, and take a look at the Hyatt, it always give me that special feeling –- a feeling of great pleasure and of course some nostalgia -– to have participated and contributed indirectly in a very, very small way towards development of tourism in Kuantan.
The restaurants and food-stalls catering local and western dishes are just nearby, all fronting the beach. So you can feel the sea breeze while you take your meal.
Even a McDonald outlet is there, to cater to those with foreign taste. But as usual, the locals are the ones patronising the outlet, not foreigners!!.
My favorite "nasi lemak" stall for breakfast (when in Kuantan), is at the far end of the food stalls, facing the sea. I go there because it is the one which opens in the early morning while others are still close.
Teluk Chempedak is Kuantan's most popular beach and the crowds, especially during the week-ends attest to this.
And do visit it at night too when the stalls and bazaar come alive! Get cheap tee-shirts and jeans, or other accessories and retail items at the shops.
So, just join in the fun... under the sun, and moon!
NOW, LET'S GO TO ANOTHER POPULAR BEACH OF THE LOCALS...
Another favorite beach with the locals and Malaysian week-enders is Batu Hitam beach. Coming from Kuantan, about 10 km away, the Batu Hitam Kampung or village is actually on the left side of the road and the beach on the right across the road.
The beach area is usually crowded during week-ends by picnickers from far and near.
Batu Hitam beach is about 10 km from Kuantan. Its peculiarity is that there is a stretch of black stones at the otherwise white sandy beach. That’s the reason for its name –"Batu Hitam" in Malay means “Black Stones”.
As the black sand glitters under the blazing sun washed by the waves of the South China Sea, it will be a sight to behold!!
Other than the prominence of the black stones there, you will also find that there are ample space for camping and enjoying by the beach and sea. Here at Batu Hitam beach, the visitors mostly come to picnic with the family and to swim in the sea. After the swim, you can clean yourself as there is a bath and toilet facility at the place.
Seafood stalls are also available near the area. You can try the local dishes, like fried noodles, curry noodles and fried rice. Fruit juices and aerated drinks are sold there too.
Try the Grilled Fish at Batu Hitam
When you come from Kuantan and as you drive up from Beserah along the coastal road northwards – if you go all the way you will reach Trengganu state after about 50 km -- you will find along the way many restaurants and food-stalls selling local and seafood specialities.
Of course the special dish that attract visitors is the "ikan bakar", or grilled fish. At most restaurants, you can pick the fish of your choice -- some are still alive and kept in the aquarium to allow the customers to choose both the specie and size. The popular fish for grilling is the kerapu, bawal and tenggiri.
Even if the fish is not alive, they are usually fresh and usually picked and chosen from the catch of the day and brought out directly from the fishermen’s boat.
The "ikan bakar" or grilled fish is eaten with the locally- made sauce – called "asam pedas"–- that is normally made from finely pounded red and green chili and added with a squeeze of lime... Oh my... I am salivating already...The grilled fish is also normally eaten with plain rice and other dishes.
So, whenever you're finished with activities on the beach or sea, come over to the food-stalls and pick your favorite dish...
Well, Batu Hitam has a few good accommodations nearby for you to stay, like Mandurah Hotel.
Another popular beach for beach lovers, especially to foreign tourists in Kuantan, is Cherating Beach. So, on we go...
Cherating, located about 47 km north of Kuantan, is famed as the location of Asia’s first Club Mediterranee ("Club Med").
The choice as the Club's first Asia location therefore speaks volumes of the beach’s splendor and endless bliss enjoyed by sun seekers all over the world.
Club Med Cherating building was designed by a gifted Malaysian local architect, Hijjas Kasturi -- who also designed several unique buildings in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere -- and the resort structures were mostly made of wood, with the original ceramic roof tiles brought all the way from Thailand.
The design has characteristics of a traditional Malay house and this gives the resort the rustic charm and rural village ambience similar to the local villages existing nearby.
However, to me Club Med is a place for enjoyment, unwinding and setting yourself free from all problems.
The Club here also caters for kids, where parents can let them free under the care of the Club's G.Os.
Besides the big swimming pool in the complex, Club Med also boasts a whole array of aquatic thrills members can try and experience, such as catamaran sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.
Located in the CM village is also one of the best lagoons in the area, where coupled with the golden soft sandy beach, the calm waters make you want to take a dip in the sea, and then just laze and laze on and on under the sun.
As I mentioned earlier, Club Med was also part of my work responsibility when I first started work after graduation.
And, personally, looking back, I still feel the pride working on its development and construction phase, as it was while working on Club Med that for the first time ever I found my name mentioned, albeit just once, in a widely distributed local newspaper (the Straits Times).
It wasn't really anything big or worth mentioning by others, but as I was just starting work after graduation, it was certainly an historic occasion for me personally.
Well, the story is like this.. It happened that during the initial commencement of its operations, there were several complaints and grievances brought up by the local workers of Club Med, concerning their working environment, resulting in complaints and hooha raised through the local newspapers.
As part of my work responsibility, I was tasked with the job of finding solutions to the workers' problems, and I accomplished the job by first doing and compiling surveys and questionnaires on their grievances. My job was made easier as I knew some of the workers personally as they were Kuantan locals, and they were very open in their comments.
After presenting my findings to the Board of Directors and recommending the obvious solutions, the workers' grievances were happily resolved by the Club Med management. And during a press conference by the Club Med management on the matter, my name was mentioned to the press on the management's approaches to resolve the workers grievances, and the next day.. oh la la... my name appeared in the newspaper.
(My sincere apologies for indulging in this unsolicited egotistic self-importance, but I just can't resist it. You can ignore this sidenote if you want, though.. )
END OF SIDE-STORY
Outside and surrounding Club Med, the nearby Cherating Village offers an opportunity to watch handicraft demonstrations by skilled locals amidst a rustic and laid-back atmosphere. This charming village also offers modest but quite comfortable accommodations for tourists, especially for backpackers.
At the nearby Cultural Complex, you can try your hand at kite-flying ( kite is "wau" in Malay), top spinning ("main gasing") and batik painting -by putting the die colors in the batik's design and patterns. Try them, its free...
Watch Fireflies at The Riverbanks
But most of all, if you want a really cool eco experience, book a mangrove river cruise, or better still, a night tour to watch and to be-dazzled by the twinkling of hundreds of fireflies along the riverbanks.
The firefly species at Cherating is different from some others in Malaysia as they are the incongruous flash type.
Check with Encik Hafiz of Cherating Net Enterprise at handphone no. 017-9789256, who is knowledgeable and well-versed on fireflies. I'm very sure you'll be educated on fireflies by the end of your tour!
Places to Stay
You can find chalets and kampung houses and rooms for rent at Cherating Village. Here you can especially enjoy and savor the local dishes cooked by the womenfolk and live the life of a local villager.
Take part in their traditional activities, and try to fly the wau and play "sepak raga" - the Malay style of foot juggling a ball made of rattan.
My advice, though... Don't pick your choice ...DO all those activities and join the kampung folks in their everyday lives... just enjoy yourself and forget whatever problems or worries you may have when you came over...
There are also international class hotels and resorts for you to stay.
Browse our Pahang hotels and resorts directory for the list of hotels, B&Bs, chalets and resorts around the Cherating area.
These then are, in my view, the three most popular beaches in and around Kuantan, the capital of the delightful state of Pahang.
Hope that you've enjoyed them as much as I do.
In another web page, I will take you to some other beaches in Pahang, the secret ones and the not so secret ones, the quiet ones and the not so quiet ones.. so watch this site for more Pahang delights...
Click here for more secret, delightful beaches.
Until then it's "SELAMAT DATANG" to you.
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