On the shores of Terengganu is the small town of Kuala Dungun and home to one of the most unique and acclaimed beach destinations: Tanjong Jara Resort. This serene hideaway sits on its private crescent of golden beach, while the South China Sea shimmers in the background.

The resort pays homage to the Malay heritage of its location with an architectural language harking back to grand 17th-century Malay palaces. Its buildings are spacious, airy and naturalistic. Clean stonework marries perfectly with smooth, polished woods. The accommodation is arranged in blocks reminiscent of longhouses; inside, the theme continues with a graceful, contemporary take on traditional Malay styling. Enormous en-suite bathrooms offer a private sanctuary in which to relax, and full-length windows overlook either the ocean or the resort’s manicured gardens.

Outside, paths traverse between coconut palms, taking you across the grounds or down to the beach. Hammocks and seats are scattered throughout, inviting guests to relax anywhere while listening to the soothing sound of waves. If you don’t feel like braving the ocean, dive instead into one of two swimming pools.

The more culturally-inclined may partake in batik painting classes, or accompany the personable Chef Ann on a trip to the local market to shop for produce and seafood. Her daily cooking lessons reveals the secrets to her assam fish curry and beef rendang. That plethora of local delicacies are best manifested at the resort’s Di Atas Sungei restaurant, where one may sample the market-fresh local cuisine. The Teratai Terrace, ensconced in the middle of the resort, is a more casual setting where you can enjoy the nightly film while lounging on a poolside deckchair. If you fancy a drink, the Nelayan restaurant boasts a well-stocked bar, as well as a wondrous ocean view.

On Saturday afternoons, the Kampong Life experience brings time-honoured Malay customs to the heart or the resort. Drums and laughter fill the air as guests are invited to participate in traditional games, while enjoying freshly-made local treats such as apam balik and keropok.

Those searching for something more energetic would likely start their day with a guided Sucimurni exercise class, aimed at balancing mind, body and spirit. There are also two tennis courts, a volleyball court and a gym. More adventurous types can take a walk up nearby Jara Hill, where your naturalist-cum-guide will point out the more interesting flora — or visit the Dive Centre to arrange a trip to Tenggol Island and its exquisite coral reefs and plentiful marine fauna.

If, after all that, you need some pampering, the resort’s Spa Village occupies its own secluded corner of the grounds. Their signature treatment revolves around the rejuvenating properties of the Roselle plant, and includes a full-body massage to work away your aches, as well as a body scrub that leaves your skin glowing.

Tanjong Jara Resort