Boasting a total of 878 islands, it should hardly come as a surprise to know that you can find some of the best beaches in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country known for its great food, friendly people and lush natural surroundings.
Despite being less popular than nearby Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, Malaysia offers many similar perks. Best of all, it does this with affordable costs, less congestion with a quintessentially Malaysian twist to the mix.
To help with your planning, I’ve listed what I think to be the best beaches in Malaysia in this article.
List of the Best Beaches in Malaysia
Tanjung Rhu Public Beach, Langkawi
Found on the west coast of Malaysia, Langkawi island is a hotspot for beach vacations for locals and tourists alike. Surrounded by pristine turquoise water, this archipelago of 99 islands contains some of the best beaches in Malaysia. These include the Tanjung Rhu Public Beach which is located at the northeast end of Langkawi.
“Tanjung” means a promontory in Malay whereas “Rhu” refers to the casuarina trees that ring the beach. This beach is a gem because of its emerald blue water, long stretches of soft white sand and relative secludedness. Be warned however that the afternoon sun can get quite hot, although the mild sea breeze does help. If you have small children, this beach will be perfect as the water is quite shallow.
Turtle Beach, Perhentian Island
The Perhentian Islands are gorgeous, coral-fringed islands located northeast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Terengganu. The Turtle Beach in particular is considered to be one of the most picturesque beaches around. Experience soft sand, shade and snorkelling with the reef sharks! It is particularly known for its snorkelling given the abundance of sea-life nearby including colourful fish, stingrays and cuttlefish.
Two things to note in the event that you decide to come here. Firstly, you can only reach this secluded beach via taxi boat. Secondly, there is a group of mischievous monkeys nearby, so make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings!
Batu Ferringhi Beach, Penang
Batu Ferringhi Beach is located in Penang, an island state of Malaysia. It’s also one of the most popular places for tourists to visit after Kuala Lumpur.
It is famed for its rich and varied local food, such as its char kway teow and cendol. You’ll also find lots of preserved heritage buildings, culture and art. In fact, Lithuanian-born mural artist Ernest Zacharevic is famous for turning Penang into a place full of interactive murals. Each of these depict a unique aspect of local life.
As for the beach, Batu Ferringhi consists of 3 kilometers of white sand coast. You’ll also find a number of international beachfront hotels, action-packed water sport activities (such as parasailing and banana boat rides), and a night market to fulfil all your culinary desires.
This is the perfect beach for you if you’re wanting a nice mix of relaxation and modern comforts.
If you are travelling from Kuala Lumpur you can get to Penang by short flight, car or bus.
Tioman island is Malaysia’s very own adventure island. Here, you’ll find a range of activities. These include world-class diving, waterfall treks, climbs, or just relaxing on the sand.
If you decide to come here, you should absolutely go on a beach-hopping expedition. There are so many options to choose from so I will only name some of my favourites. First up, there is Juara Beach, a golden sand beach with a lagoon. This place is often touted as one of the best beaches on the island. You can also learn about the turtles here at the Juara Turtle Project. Turtles here nest from February to October, and public releases occur from June until November.
We also have Monkey Beach, renowned for its gorgeous aquamarine waters and diving choices, the crescent-shaped Berjaya Beach with its nearby golf course and rainforest, and last but not least, the snorkel and backpacker friendly Salang Beach which is known for its monitor lizards and festive night life. I can’t choose a favourite, so why don’t you drop by Tioman Island and draw your own verdict?!
If you are planning a visit, I strongly recommend coming outside of the monsoon season. Like all tropical countries, the monsoon season brings about fierce winds and storms (quite unlike the drizzle you are more likely to encounter in places like London)! During this period, you are unlikely to venture out!
NOTE: This isn’t the case everywhere. Sometimes it is best to visit a destination during the off season as it can help stretch out your travel budget.
Labuan, known as the Pearl of Borneo, is one of three places to constitute a Federal Territory of Malaysia. The other two being Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
Comprising of one large and six smaller islands located in East Malaysia, Labuan is another place that is filled with stunning beaches.
My first recommendation would be the 9km United Nations Beach. This spans the length of Batu Manikar Beach to Sungai Miri Beach, and is lined with casuarinas and swaying coconut trees. In 2008, it won the prestigious COBSEA Clean Beach Award. This goes to show what efforts are being made to ensure that this remains one of the most pristine and gorgeous beaches around.
Pancur Hitam Beach is our second recommendation and there are plenty of street food stalls lining the length of this beach thus ensuring that you will never go hungry.
Finally, Layang-Layangan Beach in the northeastern part of Labuan completes my list of must visit beaches. This is due to its soft white sand and stunning views. You are also unlikely to ever be bored here due to the plethora of activities available. Cycling, picnicking, horse riding, and even listening to live music. There is something for everyone here to enjoy.
Best beaches in Malaysia bonus
Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor
I’ve put this one as a bonus because it’s not freely accessible, and so it may be out of reach for a lot of people (including me)! However, it’s so special that I thought I had to include it.
Pangkor Laut Resort resides on Pangkor Island, located along the Straits of Melaka some three miles off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. This five star luxury beach resort is famed for its pristine white beaches and emerald blue waters and was once considered by the famed Italian opera singer, Luciano Pavarroti, to be “heaven on earth”.
Accessible only via helicopter or a short speed boat ride from the mainland jetty, this is the perfect retreat for couples and families given the wide range of activities available. You can join in on a morning jungle walk with the resort’s Resident Naturalist, indulge in a wide range of spas at the luxurious Spa Village or spend your day on a hammock at Emerald Bay – a stretch of open beach that opens up to gorgeous turquoise waters.
The accommodations also range in hill villas, beach villas resting on stilts above clear blue waters, or one of the nine exclusive private estates that come with their own private driver, chef and butler! Want to feel like royalty while relaxing by one of the best beaches in Malaysia? This is the place.
Best Beaches in Malaysia Conclusion
Even after this article, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the best beaches in Malaysia. Whether you are a solo traveller or coming with small children, there is something for all of you.
Malaysia’s beaches have something for everyone. You can find remote sandy havens, bustling beaches with all the amenities of a modern city, bustling night life, and jungle hikes for the most intrepid of travellers. Forget Bali and its overtly congested beaches; Malaysia is the place to go!
A Borneo born lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and expanding her knowledge of the cultures and history of the world. You can find her at https://www.vidadeliya.com