Feeling a little burned out and dreaming of pristine beaches lately? Hang in there a little longer as a quick getaway could be just around the corner. There’s a four day weekend waiting for us in two weeks with Hari Merdeka falling on Thursday, 31 August and Hari Raya Haji marked the next day.
But before you make your reservations at the usual hot spots of Langkawi, Cherating, or Penang, have a rethink. These popular destinations are well-loved by both domestic and international tourists and won’t disappoint but it can get a little too crowded for comfort.
Luckily for us local island-hopping adventurers, Malaysia is home to 879 islands with stunning beaches, where powdery white sands meet pristine blue seas. It may not be as many compared to Thailand, Indonesia, or the Philippines, but it can sure give Phuket, Bali, or Boracay a run for their money.
From secluded beaches in Perhentian Islands to the paradise that is Mabul Islands in Sabah, we discovered a couple of beautiful beaches that are as picture-perfect as the ones more famous elsewhere in Southeast Asia. So ready your bikinis and sunblock because that quiet beach getaway can soon be your reality. Here’s where to go.
Located in Terengganu, Coral Bay is one of the two main beaches in Perhentian Islands. It’s not too far from the Thai border in Northeast Malaysia and its secluded nature will suit couples on a romantic vacation (backpackers prefer to attend beach parties in nearby Long Beach.) It has its own jetty and a good selection of nature trails that lead to highlights like Lighthouse Towers, where the daring dive into the waters below. After snorkelling to see the coral reefs, sit on the sand to take in the moment. The stunning views of the sunset will make it worth it.
Coral View Island Resort, Pulau Perhentian Besar, Kuala Besut, Terrenganu, Malaysia, +609 697 4095
Pahang faces the South China Sea and is blessed with at least three main beaches. The liveliest is undoubtedly Balok Beach, where you and your pals can truly unwind. It’s located less than 30 minutes away from the state capital of Kuantan and features an impressive spread of activities like a water sport centre. It’s a small town though but expect good food and relatively cheaper accommodation rates at its selection of international hotels and resorts as compared to the more touristy Cherating situated in the north.
Swiss Garden Beach Resort Kuantan, No. 2656-2657, Mukim Sungai Karang, Balok Beach, 26100 Beserah, Kuantan, Pahang Darul Makmur Malaysia, +609 – 548 8288 or 603 – 2026 6200
Sarawak’s Tusan Beach boasts long white sandy shores with a gentle slope perfect for those who love watching the sun rise or set. It’s an hour’s drive away from Miri with very few developments save the odd street light and tar-sealed roads. But if you dare make the trip, you’ll get to witness a stunning phenomenon called the Blue Tears — a stunning sight of glowing blue ocean waters with luminous special effects. This bio-luminescent display is caused by microscopic plankton which glow in the dark when disturbed by currents or waves. The unpolluted ocean waters also allow for better views.
Miri Marriott Resort & Spa, Jalan Temenggong Datuk Oyong Lawai, 98000 Miri, Malaysia, +60 85-421 121
Another beautiful beach that can be found in the state of Terengganu is in Pulau Kapas. The locals gave the island off Marang its name, which means Cotton Island in English, for its soft white beaches like LongSha Beach a few minutes walk from LongSha Beach campsite. While its white beaches are regarded as some of the cleanest in Malaysia, its aquamarine waters are ideal for sea kayaking and snorkelling. The northernmost cove is good for turtle-spotting.
Gem Island Resort & Spa, LotNo. 2804, Pulau Gemia, Daerah Marang, Gemia Island, Terengganu, 21600, Malaysia, +60203 564 5996
Wildlife spotters, this small island off the south-east coast of Sabah could be for you. Mabul Island is considered by many as one of the best muck diving destinations in the world known for its marine biodiversity. While its famous neighbour Sipadan is home to large pelagic species, Mabul is the place to find smaller but no less captivating species like scorpionfishes, frogfishes, nudibranchs, crocodilefishes, pipefish and blue ring octopus. The island also has the most beautiful beaches that’s covered in palm trees and powder white shores.
Mabul Island Resort, Lot A-1-G, Block A, Signature Office, KK Times Square, Off Coastal Highway, Kota Kinabalu, 88100 Sabah, Malaysia, +60 88-230 006