Malaysia // The east coast //

The east coast in the off-season

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Many visitors give the east coast a wide berth during the especially wet northeast monsoon, which sets in during late October and continues until February. It’s true that heavy rains and sea swells put paid to most boat services to the east-coast islands at this time, and most beach accommodation, whether on the mainland or offshore, is shut anyway. The rains will, however, usually be interspersed with good sunny spells, just as the so-called dry season can bring its share of torrential downpours. With luck, and a flexible schedule, you will find boats heading sporadically to and from the islands during the northeast monsoon; some island accommodation opens year-round, although you should contact places to be sure. While diving and snorkelling aren’t great at this time of year thanks to reduced visibility, the east coast comes into its own for surfing and windsurfing, with Cherating the prime destination. Away from the beaches, there’s always reasonable sightseeing in Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu – just be prepared to take lengthy refuge in cafés or malls when yet another thunderstorm breaks.

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