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Terengganu ~ Turtles & Hot Springs

• Background • Kuala Terengganu • Sights & Visits • Beaches • The Islands • Kenyir Lake • Getting There •
• Terengganu State Map • Travel-in Terengganu • Stay-in Terengganu •

  • Rantau Abang • Turtle Information Centre • Rantau Abang Beach • LA Hot Springs •

Rantau Abang
Probably the most talked about tourist spot in Terengganu as the place where the giant leatherback (Dermocheleys coriaca). turtles came to lay their eggs. In fact, Rantau Abang is one of the few areas in the world that the leatherback nests. During the months between May and August and reaching its peak in June and July, these graceful sea creatures come ashore to fulfill one of nature primary tasks – the propagation of its species.

The Leatherback turtles can grow up to a length of 2.5m and easily weigh up to 500kg. Unlike other turtles species who have hard bony shells, they have soft, leathery shells or carapace with 7 ridges running longitudinally down. These long distance swimmers have to travel across great oceans every 2 to 3 years to return to the same breeding ground to nest

The beach terrain here is favourable as its steep and deep slope allows the turtle to 'land' straight up the beach. Here the females comes ashore in the cover of night, seeking a suitable nesting site closer to the vegetation line up to lay her eggs. The male, on the other hand, never comes ashore

They normally lay their eggs when it is full moon and accompany with hide tide. Once having laid her eggs, she then covers them; she rests for a bit and then makes her way back into the sea. Exhausted from the ordeal, she swims out into the open sea to feed and replenishes her energy. This is the time when she would be most vulnerable to shark attacks.

These graceful creatures, nests between 5 to 9 times per season laying 50 to 140 eggs per nest. In the 1950's, there were around 11,000 nesting reported at Rantau Abang. By 1999, it had dropped to fewer than 10 nesting. There are a number of factors attributed to the sharp drop in numbers. In the early years when there were no rangers monitoring the beach, gross misconduct and abuse on the poor creatures by the locals and tourists alike. High trawling activities along the coastal waters and pollution lingering around the coastline added the dangers. On top of this, the nests were being continually pillaged and collected by locals to sell in the markets, claiming that these eggs have aphrodisiac and beautifying properties.

An old Malay legend tells of Batu Penyu (Turtle Rock) that lies submerge off the cost of Rantau Abang which explains why turtles are attracted to nest here. True or not, the turtles don’t seem to be attracted much nowadays. According to the Department of Fisheries statistics the leatherback population nesting on Malaysian shores has declined to merely 2% of the actual number that arrived 50 years ago. With the dwindling number of turtles coming ashore, the place itself became less and less of an attraction. Rantau Abang itself has fallen into shambles with many of the outlets and some resorts have been abandoned.

As usual in this part of the world, realization and actions to remedy the situation is most always delayed or too little too late. One sometimes wonders if the title “Terennganu – Land of Turtles” is still apt.

Turtle Information Centre
Now there is a Turtle Information Centre managed by the Department of Fisheries at Rantau Abang and rangers can be seen patrolling the beaches to ensure safety for the turtles when they come onto shore to lay their eggs. Collection (except by licensed turtle egg collectors) or eating of turtle eggs are forbidden.

They have also released 100,000s leatherback hatchlings back into the sea through a series of successful incubation and release programmes. Pay a visit to the Rantau Abang Visitors' Centre. A documentary on the turtle and its nesting habits is screened at regular intervals. The centre is open every day except Friday and public holidays. Visitors do come and lay in wait quietly from midnight to chance a glimpse of this memorable sight of the turtles lumbering slowly on the white sandy beaches to lay their eggs.

Rantau Abang Beach
However, the beaches are beautiful, a dream really and extremely quiet, just as it was years ago. Rantau Abang is also known for its white, sandy and rocky beaches such as Teluk Bidara and Tanjong Jara. The continuous stretch of beach extended from Kuala Abang which is a few kilometers north of Dungun to Rantau Abang with casuarinas trees lining along the beach. Most part of the beaches are safe for swimming although some are restricted by the Fisheries Department for turtle conservation purposes.

The beach is wide enough for all kind of beach activities such as beach volley ball, picnic, kite flying and camping. Nevertheless, there are chalets standing along the beach offering good and inexpensive accommodation.
Location : 22km north of K. Dungun and 56km south of K. Terengganu
Visit Rating -

La Hot Spring
La Hot Spring or locally known as ' Kolam Air Panas La ' offers a unique hot spring amidst the beauty of nature. The Uniqueness of this Hot Spring which appears between the rocks makes the area a very popular recreational Park in the East Coast. Mystery of the Lost River is another uniqueness of this place. Visitors will be able to witness how the river suddenly vanishes from its surface and later reappears about 1 km away.

The locals call it as ' The Underground River '. The Natural Sauna is famous for its healing properties. These's one naturally formed pool and several man-made pools built to cater the needs of visitors for a natural sauna to loosen up their tensed muscles and relax the mind. It has been claimed that the water here (water temperature ranging from 45 - 49 degrees Ceicius), with its mineral content and high temperature, is popular with tourists and bathers seeking to relieve skin problems.

Basic amenities such as chalets, toilets, food stalls, camping site and cooking area are available.
Location : Besut / Visit Rating -



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