If your idea of the perfect tropical island resort is being able to walk out of your seaview room onto a powder soft white sandy beach, dive into lovely warm crystal clear water and swim amongst colourful tropical fish and coral, then you can look forward to some happy days at the Laguna Resort on Redang Island .
Unlike other Malaysian holiday islands like Penang or Langkawi, we wanted to stay on an island where we could snorkel with tropical fish and corals with ease and convenience. So after extensive Googling, Ms Pam and I opted to stay at the Redang Island Laguna Resort on an all inclusive deal. It included three nights in one of their superior beach front rooms, breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snorkelling trips per day to a nearby reef courtesy of one of the resort's many boats. The one hour boat transfer (I like to call it an island cruise) to and from the mainland is also thrown in.
The stunning Laguna Resort is by far the largest on the island. It completely dominates the beach even though it is only one of dozen or so along this fine stretch of white sand. Most of the 222 rooms cluster around the massive lagoon pool which features water jets gushing out of huge Grecian urns across the pool. The resort is not just for couples looking for a romantic getaway. There's plenty for kiddies to do here with a large recreational hut with pool tables, board games, kayaking, banana boat rides, archery, volleyball and fishing trips.
Our premier seaview room is comfortably large and well decorated. It's situated directly on the beach and has fantastic views. Our room has an elongated balcony which extends towards the beach and is big enough to party on. The room has everything you would expect apart from wifi which has me inconveniently heading to the lobby once a day to access the free internet.
When most of the resort's 222 rooms are full, as it was during our visit, the cavernous self service buffet restaurant is not surprisingly a liitle busy. Despite working under pressure, the staff still manage to cater well for the huge crowds although the BBQ calamari runs out more than once. The menu changes daily and the highlight was the Malaysian street food night where I greedily down as many Chicken Satay sticks with spicy peanut sauce as I could. The restaurant has marvellous views over the beach and deep blue South China Sea. It's certainly a very popular photo opportunity.
We find the daily snorkelling boat trips a little bit of a chore. They're crowded, there is too much waiting around and the snorkelling locations, even the ones inside the Marine National Park, are simply not that great. There is an impressive variety of tropical fish just in front of the resort and if you're just a little brave, the coral and fish a little further out are quite impressive.
Not so impressive is that karaoke is king along the beach. It doesn't last too long but the cacophony of competing Karaoke can be annoying.
Despite the amateur howling by some of the guests, Redang Island and the Laguna Resort proved to be a very enjoyable and all too brief experience. Our desire for great snorkelling and swimming were satisfied. All you can eat buffets three times a day. Happy days indeed.
You will need to get yourself to Kuala Terengganu (KT), a 30 minute flight from Kuala Lumpur. Airfares with Air Asia can be a low as around AUD $10.00. KT is undergoing massive transformation from conservative backwater to modern metropolis. It's a bit of an ongoing construction zone at the moment so I recommend staying a little out of town at the bargain Primula Beach Hotel either before or after your Redang Island experience. From KT, you can catch a taxi to Merang jetty (approximately 45 minutes) to catch your speed boat to Redang Island.
A two night package in a Premier Seaview room is approximately AUD$544.00 including transfers, all meals, room and two snorkelling trips per day, each day.