10 Best Malaysian Islands

by Nur Faisal

Malaysia is a country like no other, with a rich and diverse cultural heritage and stunning landscapes. Its unique blend of more than 300 ethnic groups living together in relative harmony is a testament to its welcoming nature. With mountain ranges, tropical rainforests, tidal mangrove estuaries, and lush highlands, Malaysia’s landscape is equally varied, and that’s not all; the country is made up of two distinct land masses, West and East Malaysia.

The capital city, Kuala Lumpur, boasts towering skyscrapers, upscale retail areas, museums, and lively nightlife. Melaka is steeped in culture and history, while Penang has stunning colonial architecture and mouth-watering cuisine. The Cameron Highlands with its temperate climate and beautiful landscape of flower fields and tea plantations is another popular destination. And for scuba divers, Redang, Tioman, Langkawi, and the Perhentians are some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

East Malaysia is home to remarkable cave systems, orangutans, granite peaks, and untamed jungles, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers. Kuching and Kota Kinabalu are major cities that provide easy access to these natural wonders.

Malaysia’s islands are a particular highlight, with beautiful beaches and clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. But there’s so much more to explore, including colonial villages, stunning temples, and exciting outdoor pursuits.

In summary, Malaysia is a country that offers something for everyone. With its welcoming nature, diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and unique blend of ancient and modern attractions, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Whether you’re looking for a city break or an island paradise, Malaysia has it all.

10. Pulau Pangkor

Peaceful sunset view of the ocean with wooden houses on stilts at the Straits of Malacca.

A serene and tranquil sunset view of the ocean with charming wooden houses built on stilts, located at the Straits of Malacca. Image source: Reuben Teo/Shutterstock.com

The picturesque “beautiful island” of Pulau Pangkor lives up to its name. Niphah Bay, Teluk Belanda, Pasir Bogak, and Coral Bay are some of Pangkor’s most popular beaches, and they’re all known for their tranquility and beauty. Attractions here include the Dutch fort ruins that surround Tiger Rock and the Chinese Fu Lin Kong Temple, as well as the Hindu Kali Amman Temple.

Banana boat rides, jet ski rides, jungle hikes, and night swims among the blue-glowing plankton are just a few of the fun things to do here on vacation. Pangkor Laut is a little island just next to Pangkor that has one of the most lavish resorts in all of Malaysia.

9. Pulau Kapas

Scenic sea view of Kapas Island at Terengganu, Malaysia

A breathtaking view of the picturesque Kapas Island. Image source: IZZ HAZEL/Shutterstock.com

Kapas Island can be found not far from the mainland city of Marang. The island’s beautiful white beaches inspired the natives to call it Cotton Island, or Pulau Kapas. There is a wide variety of marine life in the island’s calm, clear waters, which attract snorkelers and scuba divers.

8. Penang

National Park Pantai Karachut Penang

A scenic view of the pristine National Park Pantai Karachut in Penang, Malaysia. Image source: Muhammad Aqeel Meer/Shutterstock.com

Penang is a big and colorful island formed by its rich culture, traditions, and world-famous food and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Orient” due to its strategic position along the maritime trade route. Georgetown’s colonial architecture, magnificent mansions, gorgeous temples, and stunning hotels make it a must-see on every visit.

Horseback riding on the beach, photographing snakes at the Snake Temple, and taking a cable car ride to the top of Penang Hill are just a few of the many activities available to tourists.

7. Pulau Tenggol

Tenggol Island beach scenery from an elevated view

An elevated view of the picturesque beach on Tenggol Island. Image source: Outdoor Monkey/Shutterstock.com

When visiting Tenggol Island, guests have the impression that they are on their own secluded tropical island. While formerly deserted, the island is now home to a number of hotels. The pristine beaches of Tenggol Island are set off by the island’s lush green interior, which is covered with tropical forests. Both fisherman and scuba divers value the little island highly.

6. Sipadan

A vibrant school of jack fishes swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Sipadan Island.

A stunning sight of a large school of jack fishes swimming together in the turquoise waters surrounding Sipadan Island. Image source: Simon Shin kwangsig/Shutterstock.com

Sipadan Island, which is located off the coast of Malaysian Borneo, is renowned among scuba divers as a world-class diving destination. Sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and reef fish of every color can all be found here. Because of its new status as a wildlife reserve, Sipadan has seen the closure of its hotels.

Scuba divers are still permitted, but they must use ferries to and from the mainland or neighboring islands. Mabul Island, which is home to many five-star hotels and a few budget accommodations, makes for an excellent home base from which to explore Sipadan.

5. Pulau Mabul

A scenic view of Pulau Mabul, a tropical island in Malaysia's Borneo region

A tranquil aerial view of Pulau Mabul. Image source: Paulo Henrique Vilella/Shutterstock.com

Mabul Island, located off the southeast coast of Sabah, is one of the greatest places in the world to go muck diving because of its beautiful beaches lined with coconut trees and boasting soft white sand and turquoise water. Frogfish, scorpionfish, cuttlefish, squid, gobies, and several types of shellfish are just some of the small marine life that can be found on Mabul Island, which is home to one of the world’s most concentrated deposits of such species. In little over an hour, sightseers can stroll the whole island, taking in sights like the traditional villages with their thatched huts.

4. Redang

Pulau Redang, a stunning island in Terengganu, Malaysia, with pristine beaches and clear blue waters.

An enchanting view of Pulau Redang, a captivating island located in Terengganu, Malaysia. Image source: Dinarshad Images/Shutterstock.com

The beaches of Redang, one of the biggest islands off the east coast of Malaysia, are known for their soft white sand and clear blue waters. Redang is a famous diving and snorkeling spot because of the abundance of marine life on the region’s coral reefs.

There is a plethora of tour companies and shops stocked with gear for snorkelers and divers. Many parts of the island’s interior are inaccessible due to the thick vegetation, although there are a few paths that go through the forest that are worth exploring.

3. Pulau Tioman

A breathtaking view of Pulau Redang, also known as Redang Island, surrounded by crystal-clear waters.

A mesmerizing view of Pulau Redang, a captivating island with pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Image source: Hasan Sulaiman/Shutterstock.com

The island of Tioman, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world, was featured in the background of the 1958 film “South Pacific.” Tioman is one of the most economically developed islands in Malaysia, yet it has nevertheless managed to maintain a lot of its natural beauty and ecological variety.

Tioman is a popular destination for those interested in scuba diving and snorkeling due to its proximity to several coral reefs. In addition to relaxing on Juara Beach, visitors can go turtle-watching, visit a turtle farm, go on a jungle hike, swim in a waterfall, and visit a traditional village.

2. Perhentian Islands

The picturesque Perhentian Islands, specifically Pulau Perhentian Besar, in Terengganu, Malaysia.

A serene view of Pulau Perhentian Besar, one of the beautiful islands in the Perhentian archipelago. Image source: Dzerkach Viktar/Shutterstock.com

It is a little island just off the coast of northeastern Malaysia, not too far from the Thai border. If you’re looking for the best value in all of Malaysia, your trip should definitely include a stop in the Perhentian Islands. Big Perhentian (Perhentian Besar) and Little Perhentian (Perhentian Kecil) are the two largest islands. You can find some of Malaysia’s best diving and some of the country’s best beaches without breaking the bank. The islands’ tropical jungle is another attraction for tourists.

1. Langkawi

A stunning view of the seashore at Langkawi Island, Malaysia, with clear blue waters and beautiful landscape

A captivating view of the pristine seashore at Langkawi Island, a popular tourist destination in Malaysia. Image source: Elena Ermakova/Shutterstock.com

Langkawi, a group of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, is the most popular tourist destination in Malaysia. The islands sit in the Andaman Sea, not far from the Thai mainland. With a population of around 65,000, Pulau Langkawi is by far the most populous of the islands, with neighboring Pulau Tuba being the only other inhabited island.

Langkawi has the most to offer visitors because of the diversity of its landscapes, which include beaches, mountains, rainforests, and mangrove wetland ecosystems. To experience breathtaking panoramas over Thailand, many visitors take the cable car to the top of Gunung Mat Chinchang and cross the Sky Bridge. Gunung Raya, Langkawi’s tallest mountain, is conveniently located nearby and is home to a luxurious hotel, a delicious restaurant, and a breathtaking observation tower. The Laman Padi Rice Garden, the Underwater World indoor aquarium, and the Oriental Village, with its cultural performances, snake charmers, and elephant rides, are just a few of the many activities available to tourists.

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