With almost 900 scattered islands, and a vast 5,000km coastline on both sides of the Malaya Peninsula and along the coast of Borneo, Malaysia offers beach holiday destinations to suit every taste and budget.
Here are some of the best beaches in the country, from jungle-fringed coastline to romantic secluded coves.
Among the cluster of serene beaches on its quiet west coast is Teluk Nipah (Nipah Bay), the most popular beach, lined with Casuarinas and palm trees.
Just north of Teluk Nipah, Coral Beach is quieter and more laid-back.
On the north-west tip of the island, Teluk Belanga is more upmarket, with a private jetty and 4-star resort.
And for divers, the Pulau Sembilan group of nine islands, 27km south of Pangkor, offer crystal clear waters, diverse marine life and secluded coves.
Getting there: Catch an eight-hour coach ride from Singapore to Lumut, from which you can take a 10-minute boat ride to Pangkor. Alternatively, you can catch a one-and-a-half hour flight to Ipoh from Singapore. Then, take a 30-minute ferry ride to Pangkor from Lumut Jetty.
NEXT: Pasir Tengkorak Beach, Langkawi, Kedah →
Anyone who adores beautiful beaches and luxury resorts will love Langkawi. The island’s outstanding geological landscapes have also made it a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Arguably the best beach on the island is Tengkorak Beach, which is often overlooked by tourists who settle for the famous Cenang Beach on Langkawi’s southern side. However, as locals will agree, it is beautifully simple, while the nearby three-tired Temurun waterfall is a spectacular sight to impress even jaded travellers. A great option for casual picnics and stretching out on a towel, this pocket-sized beach is unlikely to become crowded, except on weekends.
Getting there: Catch a 1 hour and 15 minute hour flight to Langkawi from Singapore, on Singapore Airlines.
NEXT: Teluk Pandan, Bako National Park, Sarawak →
Teeming with natural diversity, Bako National Park is home to lush jungles and glittering beaches. It’s not unusual to hear a greeting from Proboscis monkeys, rustling high up in the trees that line the beach.
Secluded Teluk Pandan is one of the most breathtaking beaches in the park, with its weathered sea stacks, jungle foreshore and panoramic lookout.
While April to October is the best time to visit for clear weather, the monsoon season between November and March bring torrential rain, causing the waterfalls to gush and the streams to flow freely.
Getting there: Catch a 1 hour 20 minute flight to Kuching from Singapore, on Singapore Airlines’ regional wing, SilkAir.
NEXT: Teluk Kemang Beach, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan →
You can’t get more rustic than this quiet beach in sleepy Port Dickson, where you can still experience the traditional kampong (traditional Malay village) lifestyle.
The white, sandy stretch is popular among local families and backpackers in the know, and is a perfect spot for a short getaway.
Getting there: Catch a four-hour coach ride from Singapore to Port Dickson.
NEXT: Batu Feringghi Beach, George Town, Penang →
If you need all your creature comforts, Batu Feringghi ticks the boxes. Not far from buzzing George Town, on the island of Penang, it is home to big beachfront resorts, such as Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa and DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Penang.
If you want to escape the crowds, travel further west to less developed areas like Monkey Beach in the north-east of Penang National Park. The secluded coves at Teluk Bahang and Tanjung Bungah, and Jerejak Island, just off the south-east coast are particularly tranquil.
Getting there: Catch a one-and-a-half hour flight to Penang from Singapore, on Singapore Airlines’s regional wing, SilkAir.
NEXT: Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah →
Just 10 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Tanjung Aru is popular among locals, who jog there in the early mornings and gather to watch the sunset in the evenings – good, friendly vibes abound. Views stretch across the shimmering South China Sea, to the nearby offshore Gaya Island group.
Tanjung Aru Beach is only 1,500m long but with its generous low tides and shaded public areas, its northern end (where you’ll also find a golf course and sailing course) is a great spot for picnics. You can also enjoy kayaking, windsurfing and jet-skiing here.
Getting there: Catch a 2 hour and 35 minute hour flight to Sabah from Singapore, on Singapore Airlines’ regional wing, SilkAir.
NEXT: Coral Bay, Perhentian Islands, Terengganu →
If you like Phuket, but not the tourist hordes that gather there, try these two relaxed islands that border Thailand.
A variety of beaches on both islands gives you access to azure waters and pure white sand, surrounded by thick jungle.
The best of the beaches is Coral Bay, which has its own jetty and a great selection of nature trails nearby, leading to such climbing highlights as Lighthouse Towers, where the daring dive into the waters below.
Getting there: Catch a 1-hour flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on Singapore Airlines, from which you can catch a 50-minute flight to Terengganu. Then catch a half-hour boat ride from Kuala Besut to the Perhentian islands.
NEXT: Pangkor Island, Lumut, Perak →
By Cara Yap, SilverKris, June 2016 / Updated October 2019
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