Malaysia // The south //

Air Batang (ABC)

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Despite its ever-increasing popularity, AIR BATANG, 2km north of Tekek from jetty to jetty, retains a sleepy charm and rivals Juara (which admittedly has a better beach) in its appeal for budget travellers. Larger than Salang or Juara, less developed than Tekek and well connected by boat services, Air Batang (or ABC as it’s often called), is a happy medium as far as many visitors are concerned. What development there is tends to be relatively low-key and there’s still a definite sense of community.

A jetty divides the bay roughly in half; the beach is better at the southern end of the bay, where there are fewer rocks, though the shallow northern end is safer for children. The cement path that runs the length of the beach is interrupted by little wooden bridges over streams and overhung with greenery; stretches are unlit at night. Between the guesthouses, a few small shops sell essentials such as shorts, T-shirts, sun cream and toiletries. Like the guesthouses they also arrange snorkelling trips and boat taxis.

A fifteen-minute trail leads over the headland to the north. After an initial scramble, it flattens out into an easy walk and ends up at Panuba Bay, a secluded cove that holds just one resort and a quiet little beach, and offers some of the best snorkelling on the island. From Panuba Bay, it’s an hour’s walk to Monkey Beach and then a further 45 minutes to Salang. Heading south instead from ABC, steps lead over the headland to Tekek.