What was supposed to be a relaxing Easter break in Singapore become a very exciting but yet chilled out holiday in Redang. We decided that it was a good time to take our open water diving certification so after a little bit of research we chose this island in the north east of Malaysia to do our sea dives.
The course started in Singapore with study of the theory, theory test and pool session. Sunny Cove was the diving school of choice for us and they were incredibly friendly, efficient and flexible. We took what it is called a Referral course with them so we could go focus on the open water dives in Redang. In Redang we were taught by an experience PADI instructor and a PADI master (one of the only 10 in the country) throughout 4 dives: 2 off-shore dives where we learned most of the necessary skills and 2 boat dives where we reached 18m depth. It was a super cool experience and I am glad we did it but at times some of the things we had to do seem a little silly. The little voice in my head was saying “why would you put yourself through this much risk”- having to remove your mask 15m under water and swim for a few meters was certainly on the top of the list of things I would never do in my life. But hey it was worth it and we were able to really enjoy seeing lots and lots of fish, coral and even a couple of sting rays.
Part of the adventure was the journey there. We decided to go by bus because the flights had very inconvenient times. We booked everything through easibook.com but on the way there we travelled with Kosortium and on the way back with Transnational. The total journey is between 9,5hrs and 12hrs as we came to found out on the way back. Kosortium has very nice buses with large comfortable seats so the journey up was totally harmless. We took off from Beach Road and got dropped off directly at Merang Jetty in 9,5hrs. Awesome! At the jetty we hired seats on a speed boat with a company called Nurung which was the only one that had a boat living at that time – it was much cheaper than the boat organized by the hotel and it was totally fine. The boat journey took 35mins to a small pier where we were greeted by the hotel van that takes you on a 5min ride until the resort. 10:30am we were already sitting by the amazing beach!
The return was not as smooth. Transnational bus departs from Kuala Terranganu’s bus terminal so we had to take a taxi from Merang Jetty (45mins), wait for a few hours around the terminal and take the bus at 9pm. The bus was almost full and it was a conventional bus with small seats. The worst part is that this service takes you to Singapore on the local highway and crosses over through Woodlands which added a good 3hrs on to the journey time. Next time we will sacrifice a few hours on the beach to leave early and catch the flight.
The Taaras Resort
The decision was driven by the dive centre but we were not disappointed. Despite the average reviews on TripAdvisor, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The highlight is definitely the beach which is private to the hotel – white sand with blue calm sea. The best so far in SE Asia. We stayed at a Garden Suite – very comfortable, clean, beautiful suite in a bungalow 10m from the sand. The staff was very friendly, breakfast was good and spa was good. What else can you ask for?
We had huge amounts of food at breakfast to survive all the diving effort and late afternoon we tried food at the Bistro and at the Beach Bar. Both were quite ok and prices were standard hotel prices. The last night we decided to venture the outside world and go to Aima Grill Fish literally by the hotel gates. It is a family owned shack that serves fresh fish and a mean calamari portion. Very very nice for people that are not looking for an atmosphere but good food a lower price.
Returnability: I would definitely go back but the distance is something that gets on the way