Tanjong Jara Resort is one of Malaysia's best value beach properties, offering a high-quality stay in a particularly dramatic setting. While it’s set in a secluded cove, there’s plenty of activities at the hotel as well as opportunities to explore the local area. It’s also a good option if you want a resort that has strong social and cultural links with the local community.
The rooms are built with carved wooden balustrades and tiered roofs, inspired by 17th-century Malay palaces. The local timber used has been sustainably sourced and the soft furnishings are rich bolts of locally woven fabric. There’s a contemporary feel with lots of clean lines and sleek furniture, balanced with Malaysian artwork and sculptures.
The Bumbung and Serambi rooms are in small, two-storey blocks of four rooms, most of which face the hotel's manicured gardens. The remainder are in a quieter spot on the north side of the hotel and look out onto a natural stream that gurgles through the resort.
Anjung rooms are on the ground floor and come in groups of two with views of the ocean and the gardens.
All rooms have air-conditioning, hair dryer, satellite TV, Wi-Fi, minibar and tea and coffee making facilities as well as thoughtful touches including beach bags and flip-flops.
The Bumbung rooms are all on the first floor with a steep set of steps leading up to them. Inside the room you have a spacious bathroom with bath, separate rain shower and twin sinks. The bedroom features a small flat-screen TV, large daybed (which can be made up for a child) and comfortable bed.
Bumbung Seaview room
The Bumbung Seaview rooms are similar to the Bumbung rooms but also offer a view of the South China Sea.
The Serambi rooms are situated on the ground floor of the attractive two-storey buildings and have a private veranda. The interiors are the same as the Bumbung rooms with a large daybed and spacious bathroom. It is possible to connect two Serambi rooms if you are staying as a family.
Serambi Seaview room
The Serambi Seaview rooms are similar to Serambi rooms but have views of the South China Sea.
There are ten Anjung rooms along the beachfront set in single storey, semi-detached buildings. All have a sunken outdoor bath set in its own private courtyard, as well as a canopied veranda overlooking the gardens and ocean.
Resting above the river looking out to the South China Sea, the 176 sq m (1,894 sq ft) Anjung Suite is furnished with comfortable sofas in a spacious living and dining hall with its own bar and powder room. The bedroom provides a large writing desk, sunken bath, two vanity units and separate water closet. This is the premier suite within the hotel.
The resort is tucked into the corner of a huge, sweeping beach of honey-hued sand that shelves gently into the South China Sea, on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Backed by thick palm groves and framed by craggy outcrops that stretch out into the ocean, it feels remote but is surprisingly accessible. The small town of Kuala Dungun is a 15-minute drive away and has a selection of local shops and restaurants. The most convenient way to reach the hotel is via Kuala Terengganu Airport, which is about one hour and 15 minutes’ drive away.
Food and drink
Di Atas Sungei means 'above the river' in Malay and, unsurprisingly, this restaurant overlooks the estuary of a stream flowing into the sea. There’s no menu, but instead the resort's staff will help you negotiate the choice of authentic Malaysian food. 'Walking chef' Anne is a unique asset of the hotel and will walk around talking to guests at Di Atas Sungei to see if there is anything particular she can create for them (we recommend her tofu curry). It’s a great option if you have specific dietary requirements.
Nelayan meaning 'fisherman' is appropriately on the seafront, serving up all things marine in both Asian and Western style (they operate a sustainable fishing practice). Everything from the fish to the vegetables are bought in fresh every day. Open for lunch and dinner it’s ideal for a special meal and at dinner you’ll be served in candlelight.
The poolside Teratai Terrace serves light meals during the day and evening cocktails, often with a live Gamelan band. For special occasions there are also private dining experiences available, from picnics on the beach to a barbecue under the stars.
Families and couples alike are welcome at Tanjong Jara Resort. With a separate adults pool, there’s plenty of space for children to roam, as well as opportunities for couples to find a secluded spot to relax.
The sea is normally calm outside of the monsoon season, making it ideal for swimming if spending the day at the beach. If you would like connecting rooms, the best option are the Serambi rooms. The resort offers babysitting services too.
Facilities and activities
There are two swimming pools, one of which is adult only. While one of the pools overlooks the beach, the other is situated by the Teratai Terrace, with each one offering deck chairs, towels, and refreshments served at the pool deck. Snorkelling equipment is available but for the best experience, we recommend joining one of the daily excursions further offshore.
For the active, there’s a gym, volleyball court, two private tennis courts and golf can be arranged at one of the nearby courses. You can also try your hand at sepak takraw, a local game played with a rattan ball.
An activity schedule is published each day including handicraft lessons, sucimurni classes (a Malaysian stretching exercise) and guided walks through the herb garden.
The hotel has a well-reputed PADI dive centre which usually opens in March and closes September/October subject to weather and sea conditions. There are daily trips for both divers and snorkellers (weather permitting) to Tenggol Island, an area known for its rich marine life including sea turtles, black-tipped reef sharks and soft and hard corals.
Experiences are available for beginners and more experienced divers including deep dives and fish identification dives with a naturalist.
The internationally-awarded Spa Village offers a large range of treatments — look out for spa happy hour for discounted treatments. Many treatments begin with a traditional Malay blessing to put you in a relaxed state of mind.
Built amidst ponds and courtyard gardens, treatment rooms are air-conditioned or can be opened up to allow you to enjoy the tropical warmth during your treatment. The thick, exotic foliage creates just the right ambience to enjoy the urutan gamelan — a traditional Malay deep tissue massage, or perhaps the urutan panglima — a 'warrior massage' for men that increases vitality.
The spa uses products made from natural, local ingredients such as asam roselle, which is known for its high vitamin C content.