At first it can be hard to discern the enduring appeal of CHERATING, a laidback village of sorts 45km north of Kuantan. Its heyday as a tourist destination is clearly over; for proof you only need to see the abandoned tourist office at one end of Cherating Lama (the old town), and the closed cultural centre at the other end. Many locals have long since moved out, to the new settlement of Cherating Baru a little way south. What’s more the beach is pleasant but pebbly in places, and hardly the best on the coast.
Nevertheless, at its best, Cherating Lama is still an appealing little travellers’ community, chilled out yet warm-spirited, a place to share quality time with old companions and – chances are – to end up with a whole bunch of new acquaintances too. Local entrepreneurs have also devised an array of activities to keep tourists coming, and it’s well worth giving it a few days to work its magic on you. Further down the coast in Cherating Baru, the mid-range resorts draw in families looking for a comfortable seaside break.Read More
No trip to Cherating would be complete without time spent on the beach. While the sands are off-white at best, the shelter of the bay ensures calm waters; it’s best to avoid swimming at low tide, when the sea recedes 100m or more. The headland obliterates any sunrise views, but in good weather it’s still worth taking a dawn stroll on the beach, when only a few fishing boats disturb the stillness.
Around the rocky headland at the eastern end of the bay, near the exclusive Club Med development, Cherating has its own turtle sanctuary. The information centre has a few displays about the creatures, plus a few holding tanks at the back, but the real appeal comes after hours during the laying season. Arrive late at night and seek out the ranger on duty – try the hatchery on the right-hand side – to join them as they check for arriving green and (occasionally) hawksbill turtles. When there are hatchlings to release, they do so at 10.30pm. If you don’t fancy just turning up on your own, arrange a visit with Hafiz or your accommodation.