Malaysia: Beaches and Islands

Malaysia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches; picture warm, white sand that you can sink your toes into, sparkling aqua waters and tiny islands with secluded coves and bays, where jewel-colored fish and coral await.

For unbeatable beach adventures, head to Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast. It’s easy to reach this tropical paradise, just catch a daily flight from Kuala Lumpur (you’ll get there in less than an hour), or fly directly from Singapore.

Langkawi’s waters are delightfully inviting, with ocean temperatures fluctuating between 82–86°F. There is a beach for everyone here. Pantai Cenang is the busiest beach town, with buzzing bars and restaurants. Long beach is ideal for sunbathing while active types can try jet skiing or waterskiing. After dark, the beach comes alive with music and cultural performances, hosted in the little beach bars clustered along the shoreline.

Pantai Kok is a quieter, photogenic spot, seven miles north of Cenang. Its sweeping bay is surrounded by rugged mountains with dramatic limestone caves. The new yachting marina, Telaga Harbour Park, has a wealth of bars, shops and restaurants. Take a cable car from here to the top of Mat Cincang Mountain and access the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls. Another gorgeous beach is Tanjung Rhu, at the island’s northern tip, surrounded by limestone formations; keen photographers will love Black Sand Beach, a 20-minute drive from the Langkawi Cable Car.

Langkawi also has beautiful countryside to discover, plus pristine rainforests and quiet mangroves, best explored by boat. Join a tour to explore some of the mysterious caves such as Gua Cerita (Caves of Stories), Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave) and discover the legends of Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden).

There are plenty of other sun-kissed islands to pick from, all with white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Take a trip to Redang Island (famed for its tropical fishes) and Tioman Island, a nature reserve that has some spectacular dive sites. There’s a turtle hatchery on Tioman Island’s east coast, where you can learn about sea turtles. Pangkor is another must-visit… this stunning, mountainous island is a tropical haven all year round. Or visit Sipadan Island; a breath-taking islet, hosting white-sand beaches and emerald-waters. If you’re looking for a spectacular underwater experience, this is your place – Sipadan has been labelled one of the best places to dive in the world. 

Two other islands for your hot list include Rawa and Perhentian, which can also be accessed from the mainland via a boat transfer. Beach-bunnies will love the jaw-droppingly beautiful stretches of sand here. So grab your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses and plan a beach day like no other.

Fly to Malaysia from US gateways (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York) via Singapore with Singapore Airlines, from just $740* in Economy class.

Discover Malaysia in the following articles:

Welcome to Malaysia

Adventure and Nature

What to eat in Malaysia

Mini Itinerary: Langkawi Island

Mini Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur

Mini Itinerary: Kuching

Mini Itinerary: Kota Kinabalu

Mini Itinerary: Penang

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