Did you know that Malaysia has about 2900 miles of coastline? Many people head to Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines when they want to experience the stunning beaches in South East Asia.
We have put together a list of beach islands for you to visit if you’re heading to Malaysia, the added bonus of exploring these islands in Malaysia is that they are relatively cheaper, more untouched and less crowded than other popular beach destinations in South East Asia.
It was a really tough task for us to write about only 10 Malaysian islands, but after long thinking and brainstorming, we can say that we have an awesome list now! Keep reading through the list of the best islands in Malaysia and pick one for your next vacation!
#1 TIOMAN ISLAND
On the southeastern side of Malaysia, there is a group of 64 islands which Tioman island is the largest one. Tioman is famous for fantastic diving, snorkeling, and delicious food. You can reach the island from a town called Mersing.
The island has an abundance of marine life, you can also go exploring the island’s many beaches, do so hiking, check out the waterfalls, fishing and of course jungle trekking. There are also many villages to explore such as Tekek Village, Air Batang, Salang, Juara, Mukut & Nipah.
The area is very rich in culture and a great place to some photography. The area has a range of accommodation choices for most budgets. Be aware some parts of the island can only be reached by boat. If you are looking for evening entertainment head to one of the many beach bars on the island.
One of the main attractions of Tioman island are the many day boat trips you can take and also a visit to Tioman National Park.
#2 RAWA ISLAND
Rawa Island is a tiny coral island located off the east coast of Johor – Malaysia. The island is a beautiful tropical paradise, surrounded by clear blue waters, jungle and soft white sand. It is approx 2 hours and 20 minutes from Singapore, it is advisable to stay overnight rather than doing a day trip here or stay for a few days.
Most of the activities here are beach type things to do such as water activities, hiking snorkeling, diving, lazing away not the beaches and days trips to nearby islands. There are no cars on the island and you can walk around the beaches or rent a canoe and paddle around the island.
Be aware there is limited shopping on the island and a limited choice of accommodation – so do plan ahead, as at times accommodation can be fully booked.
#3 REDANG ISLAND
A popular island in the South China Sea on the Eastern side of Malaysia, Redang has protected marine waters and a stunning marine park. It is located approx 35 miles from Kuala Terengganu.
If you are looking for a more exclusive stay you will find many luxury hotels here. There are a ton of activities on the island to keep you busy such as good nightlife options, a range of water activities, day trips, and shopping.
The island attracts scuba diving and beach enthusiasts due to the stunning aqua waters and white sand beaches. The island is perfect for beach holidays, getaway trip, romantic trip, honeymoon, and beach holidays.
Redang Island is also a nature lovers paradise and is home to many species of animals and rare plants, trekking is another great activity to do here.
#4 PERHENTIAN ISLANDS
One of our favourite islands is Perhentian island, a fantastic place for diving and snorkeling. It consists of two islands Kecil (popular amongst backpackers) and Besar for people that love nature and peace and quiet.
Many people visit Perhentian islands to get their PADI diving license. Perhentian islands lie close to the Thai border and the island belongs to a protected marine park and fishing and collecting coral is prohibited here.
Like other islands in Malaysia you can find a number of activities to keep you busy during your stay here such as, chilling in the beach, swimming, water activities, jungle trekking, seeing turtles nesting which you can volunteer at, sea kayaking, trying out the local foods, and of course watching the gorgeous sunsets.
There are numerous beaches and coves to explore here and you definitely won’t run out of stunning beaches to discover. When we visited last there were no cars on the salad and most of the exploring will be done by foot or you cause the water taxis. The best time to go is between March – October where you’ll have sunny skies, and hot weather.
On Perhentian Kecil, there are two main beaches which have the most accommodation choices. Long Beach and Coral Bay.
#5 LANGKAWI ISLAND
A beautiful island in Malaysia, very developed compared to some of the other islands listed here. Langkawi has all the facilities/attractions and various types of accommodation to suit most travellers.
This is a very easy island to reach and it has an airport too. The best ways to explore the island are by renting a motorbike or a car. There are tons of beaches to see and many other types of attractions such as beach and island hopping, exploring mangroves, the sky cab, Langkawi sky bridge, waterfalls, tracking and wildlife adventures.
Langkawi offers you a great selection of accommodation options and places to eat and there are plenty of things to do at night here. Our recommended accommodation choice is the Berjaya Langkawi Resort.
#6 TENGAH ISLAND
A stunning privately owned island which has 8 sand beaches and incredible marine life, this is a perfect place for a chilled out or romantic getaway. The island also has a protected marine park. Tengah Island is located about 40 km north-east of Kuala Terengganu and can be reached by boat from there.
Further Read: How to Hop Around Thailand Islands Like a Boss?
It is less developed that Redang island and offers visitors a quiet tropical paradise to relax on. Due to the limited number of hotels on the island you really need to book well in advance to secure a booking here.
#7 PENANG ISLAND
Penang, also known as Pearl of the Orient, is located at the northwestern side of Malaysia. This is Ann amazing island to visit to absorb its culture and vibrancy.
This out of all the Malaysian islands is the most touristy and visited. You can sample some incredible food here and there are many activities for you to take part in and places to see.
The capital is Georgetown which was made a UNESCO world heritage site due to tot he number of historic buildings in the capital. There are many sandy beaches along the south and southwest coast while the western coast is also covered with mangrove swamp. The northwest side has a few secluded beaches such as Pantai Kerachut.
On the whole, the most famous beaches in Penang are Batu Ferringhi and Tanjong Bungah.
#8 PULAU PAYAR ISLANDS
Pulau Payar is a small inhabited island between Langkawi and Penang. Pulau Payar Marine Park is actually a group of small islands; Payar, Kaca, Lembu and Segantang. As diving and snorkeling directly around Langkawi and Penang is not possible, this is the nearest place where you can enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling.
From both Langkawi and Penang tourists can arrange tour packages to Payar Island. One of the highlights of a trip to the island is feeding baby sharks.
#9 SIPADAN ISLAND
Sipadan is very popular among dive enthusiasts as it is one of the best places to dive in the world. There is no accommodation available at the island, and visitors will stay overnight at one of the neighboring islands like Mabul or Kapalai. Sipadan is located in Sabah, Borneo.
To get there you need to take a direct flight to the city of Tawau in eastern Sabah. From there you travel overland to the small town of Semporna. Here boats to Sipadan Island depart. This is a fabulous island to visit to explore its vast marine life and to enjoy the secluded beaches.
Lankayan is a beautiful island north of the city of Sandakan within the Sulu Sea. The island has one luxurious resort, Lankayan Island Dive Resort, diving is the main reason people visit the island, though it is also a great place to just relax or snorkel around the resort.
The island is especially known for its whale shark sightings. The boat to Lankayan Island takes about 1,5 hours.