A Review of Redang & Wisana Village
I don't think there are enough descriptors to adequately tell you how incredible the island of Redang is. White sand, clear water - so picture perfect everywhere you look that you get overwhelmed trying to decide what to photograph next.
When we decided to travel to Malaysia during our Asia marathon this summer, I had no idea where we should go or what we should do. A few image searches later (how did we survive before Google?) and my mind was made up; we'd visit one of Malaysia's stunning islands and just unplug and rest. I think Malaysia's islands may be one of Asia's best kept secrets. Yes, some of them are crowded and touristy, but overall they are less known than their Thai cousins, which is reflected in endless white beaches with hardly a soul in site. After a lot of debate the island of Redang won out over the Perhentians, and we decided to stay at a place called Wisana Village.
Getting to Redang involved taking a flight to the coastal city of Kuala Terengganu, followed by an approximately 1.5 hr ferry ride from Sayahbandar Jetty (50 ringgit per person for a one way ticket) to the shores of Redang. The ferry leaves from the jetty at 9:00am, 10:30am, and 3:00pm. We didn't purchase tickets in advance (I'm not even sure you can), just visited the ticket office at the jetty about an hour and half before our chosen departure time and had no problem getting tickets.
Wisana Village is perched on its own private beach, so when the ferry got close to it, a smaller boat came out to greet us and we transferred onto it as the ferry was too large to come ashore. The moment we climbed out of that boat onto a beach reminiscent of powdered sugar, we knew we'd entered a slice of paradise. Wisana Village is a small establishment that consists of huts - all beach front - and a communal dining + lounge area. Because the number of guests are limited, the beach always felt gloriously spacious.
Our room was modest but clean and we had power 24/7 which was impressive. There was even an air conditioner... that worked! When we made the booking we noticed that they had a range of accommodations. We of course chose the cheapest, but if you're looking for something a bit fancier then check out their other options.
Everything is pretty spread out on Redang and there are no roads, so it's not the kind of place where you wander around looking for new restaurants to try out every day, and we didn't see any stores. As such, Wisana Village is an all-inclusive deal so the room includes three meals a day. The meals were served buffet style over a number of hours around each meal time and were decent. Nothing gourmet, but we did have some lovely curries! Our one word of caution is that vegetarian options were very limited (we're vegetarian). There were always about four meat entrees and only like one vegetarian option. One meal, there was nothing vegetarian aside from rice, so we just ate lots of it with sauce we scooped out of the other entrees. I noticed a small dish of what appeared to be a soy sauce and pepper marinade, so I spooned some onto my rice. At the table I gave it a closer look over and was greeted by staring eyes from dozens of tiny fish heads. Oops.
We spent four days on Redang and all we did was take pictures, swim, read, eat, and repeat. Incredible. Every day I'd go outside and be amazed anew at how beautiful everything was. So I'd run inside and grab my camera and then wander around taking pictures. When we got home and I pulled all my photos onto the computer I was like how do I have duplicates of just about every possible shot on Redang? I seriously had so many pictures that looked practically identical. It took me forever to sort them.
Even though we visited during the rainy season, we only had heavy rain one night and it was only overcast for half a day during those four days. The ocean was so warm though that rain and clouds didn't matter.
We kept noticing boats and snorkelers hanging out off a point on the left end of the beach. We'd thrown in our snorkeling gear so we decided to swim over and check it out. We started noticing coral and fish approximately 30 meters offshore, so a super easy swim. The farther out and left we went the better the coral got, as in we were actually finding live stuff. The visibility was decent and we saw tons of colorful clams, plus the fish were great but super hard to capture on the GoPro, hence the lack of photos. We've definitely snorkeled in better places, but getting to see stuff right off the beach was awesome! I don't know if Wisana Village offers snorkel gear, so if you decide to go I'd e-mail them (they were very good communicators) and ask, or pack your own stuff.
We kept eyeing a kayak sitting on the beach by the dining/lounge area and finally worked up the courage to ask the owner about it. She was more than happy to let us borrow it, but stressed that there was a leak so we wouldn't be able to go far. We told her we just wanted to take it to a sandbar we'd spied just across the channel where all the boats passed through. She thought we could make it if we paddled fast so we drained it and dragged it down the beach. Only problem was that paddling fast was a little difficult since there was only one proper paddle! The other one was sketchy little wooden thing that was pretty useless. We waited until there were no boats in sight and then made a mad dash across the channel. I snapped the photo below when we were about halfway across and smiling because we were pretty sure we were going to make it. Seriously though, the kayak was so waterlogged by the time we reached the sandbar that we were barely moving and were sitting awful low in the water. You could hear water sloshing around but no water was actually inside where we were sitting and could have bailed it out. We dragged it up onto the sandbar and proceeded to drain a ton of water out of the thing. There was a lot of boat traffic, so we ended up hanging out there for a pretty long time before it settled down and we could sprint back to Wisana Village!
We left Wisana Village on the 1:00 PM ferry and were truly loathed to do so. We could have soaked in that place for months. Who knows - maybe we'll go back eventually. At any rate, now you know about another great tropical location to visit!
Things To Keep In Mind
Redang is not the easiest island to reach and Wisana Village is one of the most isolated accommodation options on Redang. To get to Redang you need to first travel to Kuala Terengganu, possibly spend the night there due to flight/ferry schedule mismatch, and then take a 1.5 hour ferry ride to Redang. Wisana Village sends a small boat out to the main ferry to pick up guests. The fact that it’s not super easy to get to Redang is a blessing though you realize when you arrive and find an uncrowded, unspoiled paradise.
Wisana Village is all inclusive with buffet meals three times a day. Because Wisana Village is a small establishment and food has to be brought to the island, the food options were a bit limited, especially when it came to vegetarian food. We’d suggest bringing some of your own food or contacting Wisana Village in advance if you have dietary restrictions.
If nightlife is important to you, this is not the place for you. If sitting on a beach every night gazing at the stars is important to you, then this is the place for you.
If you’re interested in shopping, trying out restaurants, and doing touristy activities, this is not the place for you. Redang is mostly undeveloped with limited infrastructure, and Wisana Village is not located on the “main strip”. Things you can do at Wisana Village are swim, snorkel, read, relax, visit with other guests, play games, and kayak. The beach in front of Wisana Village is great for swimming, the communal lounge area has a small book collection, and you can borrow life jackets, snorkeling gear, and a kayak. We brought our own snorkeling gear so can’t speak to whether their gear was any good, but we did borrow life jackets.
Wisana Village is very family friendly. Almost all of the guests had kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers.