Ah yes, travel. That fabled and amusing concept that our forefathers often spout on and on about such as the one time they were relaxing while soaking in clear, azure waters by a paradise-like beach. Or when they were scaling the intimidating peaks of a cold and frigid environment. Or how about the time when they had some of the best seafood (whatever that is) on an island nation that could even bring tears to their eyes?
Depressing hypothetical roleplaying aside, traveling has now become a distant memory due to the ongoing global climate but we certainly believe that it’ll make a comeback once we’ve beaten the plague known as Covid-19.
Until then, we can only use our imagination to fulfill our lust for, well, wanderlust. Also, we could compile a list of some potential destinations to head to once the world opens up once more — yeah, that sounds like a better idea here.
With that in mind, here are the five best beach destinations in Malaysia to visit for a great family vacay.
1. Langkawi Island
An island paradise, shopping haven, and the Jewel of Kedah. Obviously, we couldn’t start our list without mentioning one of the most popular beach getaways in the country.
The island of Langkawi is home to a magnificent array of natural wonders including its beautiful beaches, but that’s not all it has.
Shopaholics will have a whale of a time shopping at the various duty-free shops around the island. Nature lovers and island enthusiasts will enjoy island-hopping, waterfalls, and scenic hikes. But if you’re looking for a relaxing, fun time with the family, then the Underwater World, Langkawi Sky Bridge, and Dataran Lang/Eagle Square would be the best choice.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper list of “best beaches in Malaysia” without actually naming them. And on Langkawi, Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are all you need to know.
2. Redang Island
Other than Langkawi, Redang is yet another popular Malaysian island among tourists. You’ll notice tons of divers and snorkellers frequenting Redang, so the island tends to get a little crowded during the peak seasons. But if that doesn’t phase you, then this little island off the coast of Kuala Terengganu should not be missed.
Similar to our previous entry, Redang is home to diverse flora and fauna, along with spectacular marine life. Traversing into the deeper regions of the crystal clear waters will earn you a chance to swim with an assortment of lively marine creatures.
In particular, Pasir Panjang or Long Beach on the eastern coast of the island is a must-visit to get into the snorkeling mood. This beach features a wide area of fine sand (hence the aptly named Long Beach) flocked by plenty of resorts — which means large crowds of tourists are certainly unavoidable.
Other similarly idyllic beaches on the island include Teluk Kalong Beach and Teluk Dalam Beach.
3. Tioman Island
Somewhat of an underrated island, Pulau Tioman is a beach (pun intended) to get to — though the effort is worth it in our eyes.
The island is known for its magical dive sites which feature corals, sea fans, and sea sponges. Some dive spots are even known to have shipwrecks that act as an underwater sanctuary for the fishies — giving off a vibe you would find at home in fishing hunter games. Most of the island is also covered in tropical rainforests and various wildlife including butterflies, lizards, and monkeys can be found here.
Of note, the island is famous for Juara Beach and Salang Beach.
Juara is known for its pristine sand, lush greenery, and beautiful coral reefs. The beach is tucked away on the east coast of the island and is less populated due to the spot being difficult to access. Additionally, Juara Beach is one of several landing spots for nesting sea turtles, so be sure to keep an eye out if you are there!
Conversely, you have Salang Beach — a veritable paradise for divers due to it being the closest spot to many reef sites around Tioman. Here, there is actually nightlife as the area is littered with tons of bars, pubs, and restaurants. But if that doesn’t suit your fancy, then you may take a short scenic hike from Salang Beach to arrive at Monkey Beach — a small beach paradise inhabited obviously by monkeys.
4. The Islands Off The Coast of Sabah
We couldn’t end our list without mentioning the ever-popular islands surrounding the tourist-central of Borneo, could we? And boy, Sabah does have some of the most spectacular beaches around.
From Sipadan to Manukan to Gaya Island, you will be spoilt for choice! Here are some of the islands and beaches found in Sabah.
This tiny jewel-like tropical coral resort island offers the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The island is surrounded by a stretch of white sandy beach. The waters around said beach is also inhabited by a fascinating army of marine life — including the rarely sighted whale shark. Surely, divers will find these waters an absolute paradise to behold.
This island is considered one of the more popular ones among the many islands of Sabah. Gaya Island hosts an expansive landmass that includes beaches of fine white sand as well as tropical forests.
In particular, the island is famed for its legendary beach at Police Bay — the 400 meter stretch of sand being the ideal spot for swimming in the crystal clear water. Plus, the coral reefs surrounding the island also present an opportunity for some diving activities.
Other than that, nature lovers will be in for a real treat due to the island’s exotic flora and fauna. Trekking and trudging through the island’s 20km stretch of hiking trails is a reward in and of itself.
Sipadan is home to a diverse ecosystem comprised of a smorgasbord of marine species which makes it the perfect place to dive. In fact, this spot is regularly named one of the top diving spots among diving aficionados around the world.
Among the varied marine life, you’ll frequently find green and hawksbill turtles, barracudas, manta rays, and so on. And have we mentioned the eerily fascinating turtle tomb that lies underneath the column of the island?
Considered the most popular island among the locals, Manukan is also home to some of the best stretches of granulated sand in Sabah.
Specifically, you’ll want to head to the southern side of the island, where the island’s most popular (and crowded) beach is located. The beach spans about 1,500 meters and faces a bay of crystal clear and tranquil sea. The waters here are calm and shallow, which makes it suitable for non-swimmers and children to soak and have fun.
For the adventure seekers, the offshore of Manukan Island contains some of the prettiest coral reefs you’ll find in the region. So get your snorkeling mask and flippers ready, you won’t regret it!
As the most popular island in Sabah, Manukan also has the most developed tourist facilities. These facilities include chalets, restaurants, and even a diving center. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, football field, volleyball and sepak takraw courts.
5. The Blue Tears of Tusan Beach, Miri
This next entry is somewhat of an unknown beach to many. Tuscan Beach has been gaining a lot of attention on social media due to an unusual phenomenon that happens here on occasion.
We’re talking about the “Blue Tears” phenomenon where a gentle blanket of neon blue envelopes the nearby waters of Tuscan Beach — producing a sight that would fit perfectly in the realm of James Cameron’s Avatar.
This otherworldly scenery is produced by tiny microorganisms (dinoflagellates) found in the sea. The microorganisms release a chemical into the water which then transforms the gentle inky waters into a neon blue facade.
A similar albeit more popular sighting of the “Blue Tears” is found in the mythical Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives. But, we’d say that this beach near the tiny oil town of Miri in Sarawak presents a more accessible destination.
Sarawak’s Tusan Beach is a mere hour’s drive south of Miri city. And apart from the wondrous azure seas, you’ll also find warm orange sands and peculiar rock formations. One such formation resembles a horse bending down to drink from the sea that has since corroded, unfortunately.