Malaysia is a far too underrated destination, but one that is definitely worth a visit. An incredible mix of nature, culture and a wonderful sea. But where to go to the beach in Malaysia? The choice is wide, there are many islands for every need: relaxation, paradise atolls, snorkeling, diving, cultural visits, in short there is something for everyone.
So if you are planning a trip to Malaysia and are looking for the perfect island for your needs, this article is for you.
In fact, let's go to the discovery of best islands of Malaysia and let's see which one to choose also based on the period of your stay.
Seaside Malaysia: The 10 Best Islands
The East coast is known for some of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia, with crystal clear sea and amazing seabeds, among all the Perhentian and Redang certainly stand out. The period to visit this side goes from April to October. In particular the months of July and August are perfect for those looking for a beach destination in Malaysia.
The Perhentians are two small islands, Besar and Kecil, which are located on the east coast of Malaysia almost on the border with Thailand.
If you want a spectacular sea and a peaceful stay, the Perhentians are the best choice, you will find white sand beaches and unique sea beds, where you can spot sharks and turtles.
Kecil is the smallest island and the one a little more lively with clubs and parties on its main beach, Long Beach; Besar is much quieter and is recommended for couples or families, however there are several restaurants on the beach.
Not far from the Perhentians you will find Redang, another paradise in Malaysia, known for its white beaches, crystal clear sea and a coral reef rich in marine life.
Redang is the best island to go to the beach in Malaysia if you love snorkeling, diving or to spend a relaxing stay.
As in the Perhentians, the atmosphere in Redang is also very calm, I recommend choosing a structure in the Long Beach area (Pasir panjang), the only part of the island where there are some clubs and a little life. From here you can move almost everywhere by taxi boat.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for an even quieter place in a spectacular setting, then you can evaluate the Taaras Beach & Spa Resort in the beautiful private bay Small Deep Bay.
You will have understood that the Perhentian and Redang are the top of the sea in Malaysia, but they are also among the most famous and most touristic destinations. If you are looking for a place not too overrun by tourism, Kapas is the right island.
Pulau Kapas means "cotton island" because of the soft white sand, and this already says a lot about the beauty of the place.
It is a very quiet island, where you can indulge in relaxation, snorkeling or trekking in the jungle.
Big Pig Island (Mercing)
Pulau Babi Besar is an island that we discovered quite by accident once we reached the coastal town of Mersing. From here we took a boat and in about 30 minutes we arrived in Pulau Besar, where we discovered a real tropical paradise: white beaches, crystal clear waters and a dense jungle.
There are only a few resorts all scattered on the main beach, there are no ATMs and there is only one small shop that sells water and a few snacks.
Tioman is an island located off the coast of Mersing, a tropical paradise 20 km long x 10 km wide, covered in the center by a dense forest inhabited by many protected animal species.
Tioman is surrounded by coral reefs and due to the great variety of sea creatures it is considered one of the best islands in Malaysia for diving and snorkeling, with several easily accessible sites.
The beaches and the sea are beautiful, even if not at the level of the Perhentian or Redang.
In general it is still a quiet place, not invaded by mass tourism and perfect for all lovers of nature and breathtaking landscapes.
The islands of the western side are less beautiful from a beach and sea point of view, but they are still worth a visit and offer many things to do and wonderful nature. They are also generally more accessible and easy to reach even from the capital Kuala Lampur.
The best time to visit the islands of Malaysia's west coast is from December to March.
Langkawi is one of Malaysia's most popular seaside destinations, an archipelago of 99 islands located in the Andaman Sea on the border with Thailand.
The largest island and the main tourist destination of the archipelago is the homonymous one Langkawi Island, reachable with only one hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.
Langkawi offers tourists tons of things to do and see, you can relax on its peaceful beaches, take a tour of the mangrove forests, visit the waterfalls, explore the island by scooter, enjoy breathtaking views from the famous Sky Bridge or live a dream stay in some of the most exclusive resorts immersed in the tropical forest.
Among its best beaches we find Sand Skull e Tanjung Rhu. The sea is not bad, but what surprises most is certainly its wild and luxuriant nature. Also remember that just an hour and a half by ferry is the beautiful Thai island of Koh Lipe, with an incredibly crystalline sea and white sandy beaches.
Finally, it must be said that Langkawi is a duty free island, there are entire shopping centers where you can buy everything, mainly concentrated in the Pantai Cenang area.
Another important island on the Malaysian west coast is Penang, a destination that attracts many visitors every year thanks to its great cultural offer, wild nature and beaches.
The real highlight of Penang is its capital George Town, a colonial jewel declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
For culture lovers it is the perfect place, with its colonial buildings, museums and religious temples, including the Kek Lok Si, the largest religious complex in the whole country.
Don't expect white beaches and crystal clear sea instead, Penang's main beach is Batu Ferringhi, where there are some of the best hotels but where the sea is not the best.
The best thing would be to dedicate a few days to Penang for the cultural aspects and for the sea to move to Langkawi.
Pangkor is actually the name of 2 islands located in the Perak region 300 km from Kuala Lampur, the largest is known as Pualu Pangkor and the smallest is known as Pangkor Laut.
Pangkor is connected to the mainland by continuous ferries or fast boats that depart from the port of Lumut. The larger island offers accommodation for every need, guest house, resort or hotel, while the small Pangkor Laut is home to just one luxury resort.
It is a perfect destination for those who want to spend a quiet and relaxing stay among its beautiful beaches, but also to enjoy various tourist attractions or participate in activities such as jungle trekking or snorkeling. Especially recommended for those who are in Kuala Lumpur and want to do a few days at sea without going too far.
Finally, there are the islands of Malaysian Borneo, real tropical paradises, with crystal clear waters, white beaches and unique seabeds in the world.
Sipadan is one of the best islands for diving lovers, the seabed is populated by sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and many tropical fish. The island has become a protected area for some years and it is not possible to sleep in it, the only way to visit it is to stay in the nearby islands and request a diving pass through the resorts or diving centers of the other islands.
A good starting point for exploring Sipadan is the island of Mabul, favorite destination for diving.
Another perfect destination for diving and snorkeling is the small atoll of Lankayan Island, surrounded by crystal clear waters rich in a varied marine fauna. This is one of the best places in Malaysia to spot whale sharks.
Lankayan is also the ideal island for a relaxing stay, thanks to the island's only resort, the Maldivian-style Lankayan Island Dive Resort, surrounded by coral reefs, with an incredible sea where you can swim with the many sea turtles. Finally, it is also possible to witness the turtles laying their eggs and their hatching.
These are just some of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. As you have seen, the choice is wide, it depends a lot on your needs but also on the period of your stay.
For further advice write me in private or comment on the article, for the rest enjoy Malaysia and its sea!
Start with the Best Guide to Visit Malaysia
Tips, information, suggested itineraries and updated maps for a holiday in Malaysia
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