The small village town of Cherating is one of those typical small fishing village that can be found around Malaysia — but due to its beach location on the East Coast of Malaysia, it is also a popular beach resort area in the state of Pahang. Located about an hour away from Kuantan, the state capital (where I grew up); Cherating has always been one of the places my family would go to during the school holidays. However, since leaving my hometown in pursuit of a life in the big city — I haven’t been back to this seaside holiday spot for almost 20 years.
After so many years, I recently made my way back to Cherating — and I have to say, though large resorts now flank the beach; the laid-back, lazy vibe of the Cherating I once knew is still there. I stayed at the Holiday Villa Beach Resort & Spa Cherating and had such a lovely time at the resort and the beach; and taking part in all the fun activities around town.
The Holiday Villa Beach Resort and Spa Cherating is located on the Cherating beachfront, facing the South China Sea. The resort has a total of 122 guest rooms and suites — from traditional Malay chalets, deluxe hotel rooms and family suites. Right next to the resort is the Eastern Pavilion Villas, which is made up of 12 distinctive one and two bedroom boutique villas that come with its own private pool and jacuzzi.
Inspired by Malaysia’s Malay tradition, the Holiday Villa Cherating is set in a traditional village setting with features and styles that pay tribute to the glamour of Malay royalty. The resort has been around for a pretty long time — even back to the time of my childhood (more than 30 years ago!); but the rooms have recently been given an overhaul, with new features and amenities.
The Holiday Villa Beach Resort Experience
I arrived at the Holiday Villa Beach Resort and Spa Cherating with my mum on a sunny Friday afternoon. It was relatively easy to find via Waze; and check-in was simple and fuss free. We were greeted by Mr CP Ang, the Resident Manager of Holiday Villa Cherating; and he was extremely gracious to introduce us to the fun activities the resort had arranged for us that weekend.
We were then guided to our room at the Eastern Pavilion Villas. The resort put us up at one of the most lovely villas on the vast property. Imagine my delight when I discovered that my villa had its very own private pool, with gorgeous views of the beach! I truly felt pampered — in line with the resort’s tagline “Let Us ‘Manja’ You”!
The Eastern Pavilion Rooms
The 12 boutique villas at the Eastern Pavilion are named after 12 states in Malaysia — and we had the privilege to stay in the Melaka Villa, which I think is the most strategically located villa on the entire property! The villa is the very last one of the lot, facing the beachfront with a gorgeous views of the sea from its full-length windows and private pool. The one-bedroom villa comes complete with a four-poster bed with the most comfortable linens; a living room and 2 bathrooms.
The villas in Eastern Pavilion are built in the style of traditional Malay houses, complete with stone stilts, a tiled stairway with elaborate patterns, and wooden beams and flooring. Though some of the features in my villa were showing signs of aging, like creaky floors and outworn bath tiles — it is still well-maintained and extremely comfortable. I felt like I was staying in a rustic, secluded hut; but with that little bit of added luxury! My villa costs RM1,200++ (~US$280) a night.
The Restaurant and Facilities
There are plenty of things to do in and around the resort — it has 2 huge swimming pools, karaoke boxes, and sports facilities like tennis courts and the gym. The one thing I noticed about Holiday Villa Cherating is its wide open spaces in front of the beach — I can imagine weddings and company games being held amidst the coconut and casuarina trees. Though I didn’t have much time to use or explore the facilities available around the resort; I wished I made some time to visit the Amoaras Spa that offers a pretty reasonable price for a 1-hour massage at RM138 (~US$30), among other treatments.
Mum and I enjoyed our breakfast buffet at the Beach Restaurant in the morning; and had the most delicious meal of Balinese Rice and a spread of chicken, beef, lamb, tripe and prawn satay for dinner.
Things to do in Cherating
During our stay, Holiday Villa Cherating took us to a couple of fun tourist attractions in Cherating. We had the opportunity to release baby turtles and also be surrounded by blinking fireflies — experiences that I’m unlikely to forget anytime soon. Of course, the resort can also arrange more local tours like the mangrove river cruise, snorkeling at the nearby islands, river kayaking and fishing trips. These are the ones that we visited:-
The Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery
Some of the beaches along the East Coast of Malaysia are home to nesting sea turtles that come onto its shores to lay their eggs. Along Cherating’s Pantai Mat Nik, it is believed that an estimate of 1,000 nests are being laid in a year between April and September. Most of the time these eggs are collected by poachers and sold in the market, so Pak Su opened up a turtle hatchery along this beach to buy them off the locals, incubate them, hatch them and release them into the sea.
The Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery releases the baby turtles at 5.30pm every evening. Participation costs RM20 (~US$5) per person, and all proceeds go to the running of the place. The ‘tour’ starts with a short explanation about the Green Turtles, followed by a visit to the hatchery to watch the little ones break their way out of their nest in the sand. The hatchlings are then collected and passed to the visitors to be released into the sea.
The hatchery is doing a wonderful job to help protect these endangered marine creatures. By allowing visitors to participate in setting the baby turtles free, they create an emotional attachment to them, and educate the public on the importance of conserving these beautiful creatures.
Hafiz’s Friendly Firefly Watch
Come night, we were brought to Hafiz’s Cherating Activities Centre, where he arranges tours through the mangroves, as well as snorkeling, kayaking and fishing activities. However, we were there to witness one of the wonders of nature — the magical fireflies. Every night about 7.30pm or 8.30pm, the guide Hafiz takes out his boats and brings visitors to see the twinkling lights of the fireflies. The price is RM40 (~US$10) for a 60 minutes ride.
Upon arriving at the centre, we were ushered (along with about 30 people) into the briefing room where Hafiz gave a 10-minute talk about fireflies and their behavior. The group were then divided into 3 boats, and we took off from the newly constructed jetty and traveled down the river into the pitch blackness of the Cherating mangroves.
What makes this firefly tour different from other firefly tours that I have been on is that Hafiz has a way of ‘speaking’ to the fireflies. Armed with just a torchlight, he can call the fireflies towards the boats. So imagine my joy and delight as hundreds of fireflies surrounded us, and some even landed on my outstretched arms! The experience was truly enchanting (I felt like I was in a fantasy land); and Hafiz’s enthusiasm and excitement made the whole trip all the more fun!
At the End of the Day
I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had, and how many things there were to do in Cherating. Coming back to this sleepy village after all these years, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything new or unexpected — oh how wrong I was. Other than the things that reminded me of the past like the keropok lekor stalls and the small huts along the beaches; I have actually never released turtles or seen the blinking lights of the fireflies here in Cherating.
Holiday Villa Beach Resort and Spa Cherating provided the perfect retreat for my mum and I; where we could swim, sunbathe, chill, relax and immerse ourselves in the local activities. The resort provides a great staycation for all types of holiday-makers — the villas are perfect for the honeymooning couples, or mum and daughter trips (like mine); and the many rooms provide space for family and company getaways.
Just a note to self — the next time I come back, I need to go surfing!
Holiday Villa Beach Resort & Spa Cherating
Where: Lot 1303, Mukim Sungai Karang,
26080 Cherating, Pahang, Malaysia.
Tel: (60-9) 581 9500
Book with AGODA
*She Walks the World visited Holiday Villa Cherating as a guest. As always, all opinions stated here are my own.
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