My blog posts over the last three days featured a hornbill, a mesmerising view of the sea and a kayak. If you are like me then these would be the perfect ingredients for a holiday- a bit of birding and nature walks, a lot of time spent by the beach either lounging or walking or swimming and a bit of kayaking. So it was quite amazing that I actually managed to land upon a perfect resort island that put them all together- Vivanta by Taj Rebak Island. I normally do not review hotel stays in my blog- but Rebak Island just had to feature here as it has been one of the best holidays I have ever had.
Rebak Island is a small island off the main island of Langkawi in Malaysia. It is entirely owned by the Taj and is completely isloated from everywhere else which makes it just perfect if you want a beach vacation with absolutely no distractions. You arrive at the airport in Langkawi and from there are whisked to a slightly massive but dilapidated (think MRTS stations along OMR road if you are from Chennai, India) port terminal. There is however a charming corner of this terminal complete with comfy sofas, TV etc where you wait for the ferry that will take you to Rebak Island.
If you time your arrival well, the entire distance from Langkawi airport to the hotel only takes about 25 minutes. In the worst case scenario it might take you slightly more than an hour- this is because you only have about one boat an hour. You arrive at a nice marina at Rebak Island and from there are taken by buggies to the main reception area. If you have ever visited Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove near Chennai then the layout of Rebak Island feels very familiar (but a couple of notches above in my opinion).
The rooms are nice and comfortable- before I went I read a lot of reviews talking about aging furniture needing a revamp- I’m sorry but I didn’t see this. My room was large, spacious with a great view of the beach and the sea. (I took the deluxe sea view room- if you however want an unrestricted view of the water and are ok about not having to walk a bit to the beach, then take one of the partial seaview rooms- they are cheaper but have the more perfect view in my opinion). The only gripe I had with the furniture was the really sharp cornered centre table against which both me and my mum kept hitting ourselves. Please Taj, can you round off those sharp corners?
Although the resort is isolated from the main island there is a lot to do.
1. Beach- Ok if you are looking for perfect white sands and transparent blue water and a super large expanse of beach then Rebak is certainly not the place for you (I’ve heard the Datai is good for that). But if you like me just want a nice homely beach where you can wade and swim in the water without having to be worried about drowning or if you just want to laze in a deck chair or a hammock then this beach is it! The beach is very clean but the sand is a bit dark because of the rocks.
2. Water sports: Without even having to leave the island you can do a few water sports. You can kayak to your heart’s content at high tide- and once I was out kayaking for almost an hour round the island- this is very safe too & free. If you are willing to shell out a few MYRs then you can also opt for parasailing, jet ski etc., They are more expensive than when you take them from the public beaches at Cenang etc but they are also safer. The hotel also arranges for other activities such as mangrove kayaking, snorkelling at Pulau Payar etc if you have a lot of days at the island and don’t mind going out.
3. Bird Watching & Nature Trails: The island is home to a large number of oriental pied hornbills- you can see them almost everywhere. But you can also see other birds such as the black naped oriole, many species of kingfishers and woodpeckers. The hotel has helpfully prepared a brochure of birds and plants that are present in the island- this is quite useful. There are also a couple of fairly interesting walking trails around the island (each taking about 20 minutes to walk) so you can spend your early mornings or late evenings feeling even more cut off from your current isolation.
4. Sunsets & Sunrises: There are really amazing viewpoints for sunsets and sunrises from the island. We almost missed the sunset but a helpful staff member whisked us off on his buggy right at the last minute to this vantage spot from where we could see the sun slowly going down- bidding us a good evening!
In short this is a perfect destination if you just would like to unwind and leave your cares behind. This is not ideal if you are looking to do a lot of shopping at the duty free shops in Langkawi (unless you don’t mind taking the ferry) or if you are looking for nightlife and such. You just have to be clear about what you want.
Yes, there is only one restaurant on the island and they really only have one menu and yes it is a bit on the pricier side (remember you are still at the Taj- so be prepared to spend a bit). But as vegetarians we had enough options to go around for the 4 days we were there (and so omnivores will have an even better choice I am guessing).
The service at times can have glimpses of sloppiness (such as throwing away my plastic camera bubble wrap covers), not replacing shower caps, not enough towels etc., but all you have to do is just give the guest service desk a call and they immediately take care of the problem. The staff are very helpful and friendly and the general manager Sandip took personal care of us- this is the signature Taj hospitality style- trust me you can’t go wrong!
All in all a wonderful stay! I am thinking if I should now swap my multiple times a year trip to Fisherman’s cover with a once a year trip to Rebak Island Langkawi!
(Oh yes! I almost forgot- one thing that could be annoying for a few people is that the island is directly under the flight path of planes landing at LGK airport so you are going to see and hear a lot of flights land but this happens only at certain times during the day and not too early in the morning or late at night. If you love planes like I do, this is one more added attraction).