Home to 878 unique islands, Malaysia is truly one of the most perfect destinations for a tropical getaway. The country is filled with beautiful beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes and cities, both modern and old.
With so many islands, it’s hard to look for your next destination in the country–that’s where we come in. In this blog, we will list down the different islands in Malaysia that we think offer the best sights and experiences–let’s get started!
One of the most famous islands in Malaysia is undoubtedly Langkawi. Every day, hundreds upon thousands of tourists flock towards it to admire its beautiful sceneries and swim in its pristine beaches, and you should too!
If you’re looking for family-friendly activities here, the best thing we can suggest is to spend time at Cenang Beach. This beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, parasailing, jet-skiing and other water activities.
Aside from exhilarating activities, you can also sit back and bask in the chill vibes of the shore by hanging out at one of its beachside bars. This place is great because you’ll get to meet new friends as you drink refreshing drinks and listen to live music.
For those looking to observe the breathtaking natural landscapes of this island, we recommend riding the SkyCab cable car. This ride will take you all the way up to the misty hills of the island where you’ll be treated to an unobstructed view of the lush greeneries below.
Speaking of hills, you can also get a glimpse of a fantasy-like view of Mount Machinchang by walking along the famous SkyBridge. This man-made attraction spans 125 metres and it stands on top of the aforementioned mountain–make sure to grab onto something!
As friendly and adorable as they may seem, we discourage anyone from interacting with the countless monkeys you may encounter in Langkawi. You can never predict their behaviour and some tourists have even gone on record saying that these creatures stole from them.
Layang Layang Island
Located 300 km north of the coast of Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo is an island that’s perfect for diving called Layang Layang. This pristine patch of land is in the middle of deep waters, making it a little more peaceful compared to others on this list.
It’s a fairly small island, which is why it only contains a single resort aptly named “Layang Layang Island Resort.”
It’s the premier place to stay, as it’s complete with world-class amenities and premium rooms that make up for the total price of visiting the place. That sounds like a good deal, right?
Coral reef fanatics and divers will get a kick out of this island, as it’s mostly known for its beautiful marine life. With rich coral reefs and different species of fish and more, the waters of this island are indeed rich.
The main highlight of diving here, however, is the occasional sight of whale sharks. These friendly giants make for a great photo opportunity and they’ll certainly make your diving experience 100% cooler.
Pamper yourselves at Layang Layang Resort’s spa if you find yourself too tired to engage in exhilarating water activities.
Penang perfectly balances historical sites, city life and laid-back beach vibes. It’s located approximately 100km south of Langkawi and it’s one of the best places to live for expatriates because of the aforementioned variety it offers.
Starting with the historical side of things, this island is home to the famous George Town, a UNESCO Historic Site. It played a significant part in history by acting as a port town for foreign merchants, allowing them to trade globally.
As for its city life, look no further than Seberang Perai, which is Malaysia’s largest city by population. Although it’s not as grandiose as Kuala Lumpur, it still has its fair share of cafes, restaurants and several other points of interest that we think are worth visiting.
Lastly, the island doesn’t fall short of nature-centric destinations as well. For starters, you’ll find tons of hiking trails here, most notably along Penang Hill, which aren’t too difficult but will definitely challenge your trekking skills.
You can also visit Penang Gardens if you want to be surrounded by beautiful fauna and flora, some of which can only be found there. We recommend taking tons of photos here, as you won’t find an amazing collection of these species anywhere else!
If you’re looking for something to do at night, we recommend checking out Penang Avatar Secret Garden. As soon as night falls, this secret garden will be lit up with various LED lights that make the place even more magical.
It’s no debate that Pangkor Island holds some of the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia. This place is perfect if you don’t want your trip to be filled with other tourists because it’s not as hot of a holiday destination compared to other islands.
However, don’t be fooled, as it still holds wonderful views, fun activities and more. It’s one of those places where you can truly disconnect from your everyday hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature.
Here, you can enjoy empty beaches that have stunning views of cerulean waters as far as the eye can see. One of the best beaches we recommend you visit, however, is Coral Beach, which is the perfect destination for couples.
Unlike several other famous beaches in the country, Coral Beach is a bit more secluded, perfect for reconnecting with nature in peace. Aside from that, it features white sand, clear waters and a serene ambience thanks to the absence of noise from boat engines and other tourists.
Lastly, at the centre of the island is a thick jungle which you’re free to explore with your friends or family members. The trek isn’t hard, but it will still give you majestic views of wildlife along with the looming clear waters in the background.
If you want to treat your kids to a fun activity, head over to Sunset View Chalet at Nipah Bay to feed hornbills.
Selingan Turtle Island
Selingan Turtle Island is a great destination if you want to be immersed in amazing wildlife. As you may have guessed from its name, the main inhabitants of this small and peaceful island are slow and steady turtles.
You can spot these hard-shelled creatures roaming the island and swimming along its shores, living their best lives. If you’re lucky, you can even witness some of them hatching an egg, which is such a special event.
Aside from these cute little turtles, however, another reason why you need to visit Selingan is its beautiful marine life. This is why we recommend scuba diving or snorkelling when you get the chance to explore this part of Malaysia.
For the more adventurous people out there, we recommend checking out Mantanani Islands because of the variety of activities it offers. But for us, the biggest highlight here is diving, as it can lead you to abandoned yet beautiful shipwrecks.
These wrecks can date back a hundred or even thousands of years ago, which explains why they’re all covered in barnacles. However, there is beauty in these tragedies, as today, they’re seen as beautiful diving attractions in the Mantanani Islands.
You’ll also meet some interesting sea creatures during your dive. Some of the most common ones found here include stingrays, seahorses and even whale sharks!
If you don’t want to go snorkelling and just want to lay down under the sun, you can freely do so on the island’s white sands. Trust us, nothing beats sitting on one of the pristine beaches of this island and watching the sunset while hearing waves slowly crash into the shores.
When it comes to the best diving spots in Malaysia, you have to include Sipadan Island in the conversation. It’s widely regarded as the best diving spot in the entire country and you’ll easily understand why once you get a chance to visit it for yourself.
This small oval island unseemingly holds the best marine life in all of Malaysia. During one of your dives in its crystal clear waters, there’s a high chance that you’ll encounter various sea creatures.
Two of the most notable ones that we recommend you keep an eye out for are the gigantic parrot fish and sea turtle. These two creatures are abundant in these parts of the sea and you’ll be impressed at how majestic they are in person.
As for the land itself, you’ll find a patch of luscious greeneries that you can freely explore as well. Just make sure that you’ll come with a guide and that you go in groups to avoid getting lost, and that you’ll get to see everything that the island offers.
Furthermore, it’s clear that whoever’s in charge is taking the necessary steps to preserve the beauty and majesty of this island. One of the ways they do this is by limiting the number of tourists that can visit the island per day.
Sipadan Island doesn’t offer that much in terms of accommodation. We recommend staying at one of the neighbouring islands, as this is the only way you can stay overnight near the amazing diving spots in the area.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, then you should check out Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. This place features an amazing jungle filled with different species of flowers and animals that you can explore using the official hiking trails.
These are some of the easiest hiking trails you can find in Malaysia but still, it’s wise to go with a guide and book a tour.
Aside from the luscious jungle, you can also visit a nearby island that allows you to snorkel around the shallow waters. Although it’s not as special as Sipadan, you’ll still be treated to beautiful and healthy marine life.
Sometimes, snorkelling and diving can be a bit extreme for some people. If you prefer laid-back activities, you should include Mabul Island in your Malaysia itinerary.
Mabul is a serene island that looks straight out of a postcard, with its calm waters and white sand. Plus, tons of coconut trees populate the island itself, making it more picturesque.
This tranquil nature can be attributed to the fact that the island is relatively secluded. You’ll immediately notice this when you step foot in it and hear little to no noise at all, whether it be from other tourists or boat engines.
A calm beach like this opens the possibility to tons of relaxing activities, one of which is kayaking. This is arguably the best place to go kayaking in Malaysia because of the calm and crystal-clear waters.
Lastly, what we love about this island is that even though it’s secluded, it offers tons of accommodation options. The twist is that most of them are built on stilts around the surrounding area to preserve the island.
The only way to get to Mabul Island is via a ferry. If you want a hassle-free travel experience to the island, we recommend booking a stay at one of its accommodation options so that they’ll be the ones to arrange the ferry.
Aside from seeing other places, the main purpose of travelling is to get pampered to release stress. This being said, the best island in Malaysia that we can recommend for the best of both these worlds is Mataking Island.
This patch of land in the middle of the sea is known for its luxurious reef resort that offers all the necessary amenities for a complete stay. Aside from providing high-quality rooms, these resorts also come with spas where you can spend a nice afternoon and be treated like royalty.
Don’t get us wrong, this island still lets you engage in various water activities. It’s just that it also does a great job of providing relaxation through these resorts.
Lastly, if you want to witness something amazing, check out the first and only underwater post office found on this island. As you may have guessed, it’s fully submerged. And thanks to the test of time, it’s now covered in coral reefs and barnacles.
Any entry on this list can easily take the cake for the most beautiful island in Malaysia. However, when it comes to aesthetics alone, we can argue that the Perhentian Islands take the crown and we’ll explain shortly why.
The Perhentian Islands are made up of two islands: the Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar, which means small and big, respectively. These islands are star attractions during summer and the holidays because of their picturesque nature and plentiful diving spots.
You can kiss roads goodbye once you step foot on these islands, as the main way to get around is via water taxis or trekking. If you ask us, both of these methods of getting around are memorable experiences in their own right so win-win!
If you’re looking for a more luxurious and resort-like experience, however, we advise you to stay at Perhentian Besar. This is where you’ll find premium and more world-class accommodation options, perfect for families and couples who are looking to be pampered.
On the other hand, backpackers and other budget travellers can settle on the smaller island of the bunch, Perhentian Kecil. This is where more affordable-friendly lodging can be found, but don’t be fooled, the quality of these accommodation options isn’t cheap in quality.
Several diving schools can be found on these islands and not all of them offer the same prices. Try to browse different schools before settling for one to find the price that will fit your budget the best.
Redang Island is the cream of the crop when it comes to luxury, and it doesn’t shy away from it. This “A-list” island is visited by those who don’t mind spending extra just to indulge in world-class amenities, accommodation options and customer service.
In our books, the hotels and resorts found here are unmatched. Featuring huge pools, spas, in-house restaurants and comfortable rooms, they can make anyone feel like royalty once you book a stay on their premises.
Aside from these accommodation options, however, the island itself is worth highlighting. For starters, the sands are some of the whitest and purest we’ve seen here in Malaysia, which is saying a lot!
As for the water, the best way we can describe it is that it looks like the blue flavour of Gatorade, as it features this majestic teal colour. This beauty is further magnified once the sunlight hits the surface of the water, which results in a magical shine that looks unreal.