Cherating is a sleepy little fishing town on Malaysia’s East coast, only a 3,5-hour drive from KL. With its long sandy beaches, laid back eateries and beach side chalets, it has become our family’s favourite place to escape to over long weekends.
Where to stay in Cherating
Our favourite spot in Cherating is Villa de Fedelia, where you can stay in semi-detached one-room villas overlooking the ocean, only a few metres from the sandy beach. Each cosy villa has air conditioning, a bar fridge, a queen bed and its own bathroom.
For families needing a little more space, you can rent the family villa, which is really just two villas with an interconnecting door. There is also the option to rent additional bedding to be placed on the floor within the one room.
Breakfast is provided as part of the deal, and is a simple eggs on toast or fried bee hoon affair.
Without a pool or other amenities, Villa de Fidelia has limited options in the way of activities. There are plenty of other hotels nearby, ranging from other little huts, to medium sized hotels with pools, to a pet friendly resort, to Club Med! We have also stayed at, and loved, the villas at Tanjung Inn, which is just behind Villa de Fidelia and almost exactly the same in terms of accommodation and amenities, except you swap the ocean views for shady green landscaped gardens.
Other hotels to stay at in Cherating:
- Casa Titik is a cosy homestay-type of a place further from Cherating beach – read our review here.
- Royale Chulan Cherating is a fairly new hotel with a pool and all amenities.
- The Kasturi is an upscale eco-resort right on the beach
Things to do in Cherating with kids
In the monsoon months between November and March, Cherating’s surf scene takes over the town. You can learn to surf, take a surf tour, or rent a board and head into the waves solo. Outside of these months, though, the beach becomes a lot calmer, losing most of its waves, its tourists, and its activities all at once.
The main activities outside of monsoon season are run by Hazif Cherating Activities. We’ve been on the firefly tour, which involves gliding through the mangroves at night among what my daughter calls the fairy lights, and was pretty magical. Hazif also provides other activities, such as snorkelling and banana boat rides in the ocean, but we can’t vouch for those – we’re too busy being lazy at the beach to try them out!
And speaking of beach, Cherating beach is a lovely one. Long stretches of sand, and very shallow water in low tide that can span half a kilometre, mean that parents with younger children can let them roam a little without being too worried about currents or sudden drops in depth. There are hermit crabs to find, an estuary to laze in, and plenty of space to run. It does get very hot, with limited shade on the beach between 1030 and 4ish. So if you do choose to forego a pool, make sure you’ve got some downtime activities packed.
Also, if you’re headed to the beach outside of a resort, it’s a good idea to bring some swimwear options to cover up a little. As a public beach, I felt uncomfortable in my bikini. There were no outward signs from anyone else that I should feel uncomfortable, but it was clear to me I was significantly less dressed than anyone else there, so the second time we went I simply packed some shorts and a rash vest, and felt completely fine after that.
Where to eat in Cherating
There are lots of Malaysian restaurants along the main strip, however when we come to Cherating we quickly fall into the pattern of eating at three favourite spots.
Don’t Tell Mama is our go-to dinner place. With tables and chairs right on the sand, it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset, have a beer, and let the kids run wild in front of you or lounge on the many swings. The food is simple fare – fish and chips, spaghetti, bbq pizzas – but the view and the relaxing vibe is well worth the nightly five minute walk along the shore from our villa.
Ombok Café is a very cool and very cruisy place to relax in for lunch. With a menu of sandwiches, banana leaf wrapped curries, fish and chips and stir fries, all using very fresh ingredients, there’s something to please everyone here. You can while away the afternoon, when the beach is far too hot to lounge at, and you begin to wish you’d booked a place with a pool, while reading a book or playing a game (board games and books are kept in an otherwise unused fridge if you forget to BYO).
Restaurant Duyong is the last Cherating restaurant on our list. It’s a Thai/Chinese fusion restaurant set on a wooden verandah overlooking the mangroves. From your table you can watch the fish below, spot some water lizards slithering through the roots, or, if you’re like my daughter, become obsessed with the many kittens mewling at your feet. Good food, lovely breeze, and plenty to see. Just don’t forget the mozzie spray.
To sum it up: for adventure and activity lovers, Cherating may not be your place. But if you’re in the mood for a long weekend of lazing around with the family, jumping in the waves, watching sunrise and sunset every day, and playing cards on the deck, then I could not recommend it more.
Getting to Cherating
The drive from KL to Cherating is an easy, albeit winding, one. The freeway runs most of the way, and there are three large rest stops well spaced along it in case you need a toilet break, coffee run or stretch of the legs.