5 best beaches in Malaysia

Malaysia's best beaches have more than pristine white sand to offer: they're also the gateway to world-class diving and some of the most stunning jungle habitats in the world. Read on to discover our top recommendations where you may even meet a turtle or two...
The turquoise waters of Redang beach. Photo: Shutterstock
The turquoise waters of Redang beach. Photo: Shutterstock

White sandy beaches and gentle sea breezes are for many the perfect recipe for a holiday, and in Malaysia the offerings are plentiful. Whether on the peninsula or in the marine park of Sabah, here we've selected the best beaches in Malaysia on which to bask and laze under the tropical sun.

1. Pulau Redang, Terengganu

On the beaches of the peninsula's beautiful east coast, sun-soakers and coral-lovers mingle happily with the local folk whose families have fished its waters for generations. Pulau Redang is one of the most stunning islands in the region, located off the mainland, halfway between the towns of Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu, both stops on Insight Guides' aptly named Taking in the Splendour of Malaysia holiday.

Redang is famous for its great visibility and diverse dive sites. Comprising nine islands, there is a pleasant cross-island track through rainforest connecting the pristine wide beaches of fine white sand at Pasir Panjang and Teluk Dalam. There is also a small traditional Malay fishing village on stilts where you can stop for teh (tea) and local kuih (cakes). Aside from diving (and the diving here is fantastic – submerged reefs are particularly fascinating) there is also a high chance of bumping into a member or two of the large green turtle population. Redang has got it all...

2. Pulau Rawa, Johor

With long sandy beaches, unpretentious resorts , crystal-clear waters and beautiful coral reefs, Malaysia's South China Sea islands achieve the difficult feat of being both popular and unspoilt. Tiny Pulau Rawa belongs to the islands of Johor, covered in jungle and boasting great reefs. Rawa is privately-owned by the Johor royalty and if you can tear yourself away from the stunning beach there is diving, windsurfing, canoeing, snorkelling and fishing available.

The idyllic waters of Pulau Redang make an obvious choice for a list of Malaysia's best beaches. Photo: ShutterstockIdyllic Pulau Redang is an obvious choice for a list of Malaysia's best beaches. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Pantai Cenang, Langkawi

The most popular beach on Langkawi, with lots of places to eat, souvenir shops and water activities on offer. Experience Cenang beach for yourself: it's a stop on the Round Island Tour in Insight Guides' Indulgent Malaysia holiday, which also takes in a sunset cruise and foray into the thick mangrove for some eagle-spotting. Also on Langkawi, Pulau Singa Besar has a pristine beach as well as a freshwater lake.

4. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah

Stunningly beautiful, with an air of mystery, Sabah has now become a prime destination for wildlife watchers. Offshore from Kota Kinabalu, surrounded by azure waters, are the five islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. As part of Insight Guides' Experience Nature in the Wilds of Sabah, you'll take a 20-minute boat ride to one of these coral islands and spend the day swimming, snorkelling or just relaxing on the beach.

5. Pulau Sipadan, Sabah

Right on the southeast tip of Sabah, near the border with Indonesia, is Pulau Sipadan, one of the world's five best dive sites and Malaysia's only oceanic island. A pinnacle of limestone rising up 600 metres (2,000ft) from the sea, it spreads out like a mushroom cap to form a 12-hectare (30-acre) island. The stunning visibility and the incredible range of marine life – including large pelagic fish, brilliantly coloured hard and soft corals and underwater caverns – greatly impressed legendary marine ecologist and diver, Jacques Cousteau.

Are you ready to take your holiday to Malaysia's best beaches?

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