THE coastal town of Kuantan has no shortage of beaches and among these, Pantai Balok is a popular destination among visitors, especially during the monsoon season.
As the north-east winds blow in from the South China Sea, the beach becomes a 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 winds attracts windsurfers from all over.
“More people are taking up kitesurfing as it is easier to learn and uses smaller equipment.
“However, kitesurfing is riskier. Since the board is smaller, kitesurfers will normally have to swim back to shore should something happen. In comparison, windsurfers can just let go of the sail and paddle back to their board, ” he said.
Goh said conditions at Pantai Balok were ideal for intermediate and advanced surfers as there were a few rocky outcrops and the waves could be strong.
“We hold competitions that are very big draws but it depends on the budget allocated by the government. We are hoping a competition can be organised at the end of this year, ” said Goh.
The windswept beach of Pantai Balok also offers picturesque views and gives a sense of tranquillity.
Right by the beach is Kem Nemo, a campground 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 had decided to take a stroll along the beach 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 relaxing just being here, ” she said.
Asmy, however, suggested that the authorities do more to ensure that the beach was kept clean.
For those looking for something to take home from Pantai Balok, there is 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 place 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. They can also experience the fun of making batik themselves with our special packages for groups or families, ” he said.
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 has a unique charm.
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 (MCO), all tourist spots are closed until April 28 or whenever the MCO ends.