KUANTAN: The coastal town of Kuantan has no lack of beaches and among these, Pantai Balok is a popular destination for visitors, especially during the monsoon season.
As the north-east winds blow in from the South China Sea, the beach becomes the must-visit place for windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts.
Wilson Goh, 41, who runs Oxbold Watersports Centre at the beach, said Pantai Balok had always been one of the most famous surfing spots in the country since the 1980s.
“From the end of November until early March, the north-east monsoon brings in constant wind and this attracts windsurfers from all over.
“There are also more people taking up kitesurfing as it is easier to learn and uses smaller equipment.
“However, kitesurfing is also riskier. Since the board is smaller, kitesurfers will normally have to swim back to shore should something happen compared to windsurfers, who can just let go of the sail and pedal back on their board, ” he said.
Goh said the conditions at Pantai Balok was ideal for intermediate and advanced surfers as there were a few rocky outcrops and the surf could be strong.
“We actually hold competitions that are very big draws but it depends on the budget allocated by the government. We are seeing if a competition can be organised at the end of this year, ” said Goh.
The windswept beach of Pantai Balok also paints a picturesque view and provides a measure of tranquillity for visitors.
Right by the beach is Kem Nemo, a camp ground complete with rental tents and facilities for events and activities.
Asmy Rodziah Abdullah Sani, 34, from Kuala Lumpur, was attending a get-together at Kem Nemo and decided to take a stroll along the beach to capture some pictures with her family members.
“I just like looking at the beach. Although the waves are strong and it is not suitable for swimming, it is still quite relaxing just being here, ” she said.
Asmy, however, suggested that the authorities do more to ensure that the beach was clean.
For those looking for something to take home from Pantai Balok, there is the Natural Batik Village right by the entrance of the road to the beach.
The one-stop centre for handicraft not only offers a wide selection of batik merchandise and souvenirs but also tailoring, sewing and embroidery services.
Its marketing manager Tay Yap Seng said visitors could enjoy a meal as well at the restaurant within the centre’s compound.
“This is a centre where one can experience batik, a cultural heritage of Malaysia.
“We have a workshop where visitors can watch us produce batik from start to finish. Visitors can also experience the fun of batik making themselves with our special package for student groups or family, ” he said.
The Natural Batik Village is open from 10am to 7pm every day, including public holidays.
Although Pantai Balok is just one of the many beaches along the coast of Kuantan, it still has its own charm that attracts visitors.
Jafni Othman, 53, said Pantai Balok was one of his favourite beaches, other than Teluk Chempedak.
“It is calm and peaceful. My family and I drop by once in a while just to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, ” he said.
Pantai Balok is located about 30 minutes from the Kuantan town centre.
Admission is free and there are plenty of parking spaces available.
However, due to the movement control order, all tourist spots are closed till April 28.