Sun, sand, sea and surf are on the menu at Pahang’s top idyllic beaches
White sand, warm water and a wonderful view: there’s nothing quite as restorative as a beach vacation. In Malaysia, destinations like Terengganu and Langkawi often dominate the conversation when it comes to popular beach spots, but you’d be remiss to skip the east coast state of Pahang.
Pahang might not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of beach vacations, but it boasts hidden gem beaches and internationally renowned surfing and windsurfing hotspots that make it perfect for a day trip or a weekend jaunt.
These beaches in Pahang are worth a spot on your post-MCO vacation plans.
Just 5km from Kuantan, Teluk Cempedak is arguably Pahang’s most famous beach. And for good reason: you’ll find white sandy beaches dotted with swaying pine and casuarina trees, as well as excellent waters for sailing, canoeing, jet skiing and surfing. It’s also home to world-class hotels like the beachfront Hyatt Kuantan Resort. Teluk Cempedak can get crowded during the weekends or public holidays, so plan your itinerary accordingly. Tip: Those seeking some quiet and respite can take a short trek through the jungle to discover the charming and quieter Pelindung Beach.
Pantai Batu Hitam
Pantai Batu Hitam literally means ‘Black Rock Beach’, aptly named owing to the dark rocks scattered across its coastline. This unique beach is posited to be another tourist destination in Pahang, so be sure to pay a visit before it gets too touristy. It’s a great spot for fishing, and there are various food stalls nearby serving local dishes. Pantai Batu Hitam was also most recently the location for a headline-making exhibition featuring an Instagram-worthy giant inflatable moon, courtesy of a group of local college students.
With its palm-fringed coastline and serene stretch of sandy beach, Cherating Beach is every bit picture-perfect and postcard-worthy. This laidback resort area – well-known in the Southeast Asian surfing scene – sees mostly backpackers and surfers who flock here for the decent swells. Budget accommodations are aplenty, although well-heeled travellers can also get some shuteye at the luxury beachside outfits that have opened in recent years. Cherating village is rather small, so getting around on foot or on a bicycle is easy. Other noteworthy activities include trying your hand at batik painting at Lidong Art Boutique or hopping onboard a scenic Cherating River cruise.
Not too far off from Cherating, Chendor Beach is another resort area that is popular among surfers, and it’s less crowded. Here, you’ll find the Chendor Turtle Sanctuary, a conservation facility that allows visitors the rare opportunity to watch green turtles and – if you’re lucky –giant leatherbacks crawl ashore to lay eggs. Chendor town is also a great place to try traditional Pahang foods like otak-otak (grilled fish cake made with ground fish meat and tapioca starch and flavoured with spices), satar (grilled spiced fish meat encased in banana leaves) and keropok lekor (fish cracker snack).
Just 15km north of Kuantan lies Balok Beach, a popular spot for windsurfing. Every year, the beach hosts an annual international windsurfing regatta called Monsoon Madness, which sees professional windsurfers battle Balok’s rough ocean waters. But if windsurfing isn’t your thing, the pristine palm-fringed beaches are a choice spot for sunbathing. You can also arrange for water activities like snorkelling and scuba-diving. Come by on a day trip or spend the night at the various hotels that dot its coastline.