Top Malaysian beaches

Top Malaysian beaches

Thanks to its endless coastline, Malaysia boasts world-class beaches, many of which are popular for secluded bays, unforgettable sunsets and - thanks to the crystal clear waters and colourful coral reefs - scuba diving. Colonial villages, beautiful temples and lavish resorts complete the picture of wonders that make Malaysian beaches some of the most sought after in the world. Here are some of the top picks:

Perhentian Kecil Island Beach (in photo)

The beaches of Palau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhential Kecil are situated just off the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine Park, this is the place to snorkel and scuba dive thanks to the coral-fringed waters. These beaches are also suitable for windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and deep-sea fishing.

Mantanani Island Beach, Sabah

Located in Kota Belud, Sabah, the Mantanami Islands are home to a beautiful secluded beach that frame deep blue waters. Under the surface, you'll find a thriving sea life and colourful corals with changing hues. This beach is rightfully famous for underwater photography, canoeing, rafting and snorkelling.

Mataking Island Beach

Whether you are looking for a retreat or an undersea exploration, Mataking caters to every whim. Located to the southeast of Sabah, Mataking Island comprises two islands: Mataking Besar (which is the big one), and the smaller Mataking Kecil. It only takes about an hour to walk around the whole island, and you can even walk from the big island to the small one during low tide, which makes it perfect for those interesting in island hopping.

The island is also perfect for deep sea diving and snorkelling as it is surrounded by house reeks and there are over 30 dive sites in the area. The most popular dive sites are Frog Fish Farm, Sweet Lips rock, Stingray City, Shipwreck Post, Turtle Playground, Eye Candy and many more.

Dive conditions are mostly great, with good visibility and almost no currents during the dives. If you find yourself a bit lost, there's a dive school that offers great dives at numerous beautiful sites in the area.

The best time to dive is from April to June, with visibility over 30m and up to 50m. From May to August, you might spot green turtles and hawksbill turtles laying their eggs on the beaches.

Rawa Island Beach

Located 16km off the east coast peninsula of Malaysia, Rawa Island is one of the most popular beach destinations in Malaysia despite being a small island with only two resorts. Rawa Island is perfect for a secluded getaway and it's famous for its white sand, turquoise waters and the stunning resort owned by Johor Sultanate. This secluded destination is perfect for snorkelling, kayaking, scuba-diving, hobbycat sailing and island hopping.

Layang Layang Island Beach

Known as the ‘jewel of the Borneo Banks', Layang Layang Island is home to one of Malaysia's most precious beaches. Thanks to its splendid diving conditions, Layang Layang is a must for scuba divers. It is also great for parasailing and gliding. Despite being a popular destination, you can also visit Layang Layang Island Resort from March until August, as it is closed during the rest of the months due to monsoon.

Teluk Duyung, Penang

Located in Penang National Park in the north-west corner of Penang Island, Teluk Duyung is the bay at the base of Muka Head. Popularly known as the Monkey beach, Teluk Duyung is one of the most secluded beaches in Malaysia, with a long stretch of white sandy beach that is good for swimming. This beach can be accessed through the jungle trek, from the Penang national park or by boat. If you choose the latter, you can book one from Teluk Bahang. Visitors need a permit to enter Teluk Duyung, which they can get by registering at Teluk Bahang. This beach is famous for wildlife safari and vivid marine life in the park.

Sibu Island

Also known as Battleship island because of its shape, Sibu Island is a small island in Mersing District, Johor, and it consists of several islands (Sibu Besar, Sibu Tengah Island, Sibu Kukus Island and Sibu Hujung Island).

The most popular activities include snorkelling, diving and turtle spotting, while the main beaches are located on the eastern side of Sibu. Scuba diving and snorkelling is particularly good from Pulau Sibu as the whole area was turned into a Marine Park in 1993.