By: Michele Koh Morollo
Malaysia is home to more than 800 islands, and each has its own unique personality. As the country’s tourism industry grew, different islands started attracting different types of tourists. The Perhentian Islands and Tioman for instance became a hotspot for backpackers and divers, while Penang and Langkawi drew more families looking for upscale resorts. Depending on what you’re looking for, there is probably an island in Malaysia that has your name written on it.
The Romantic Escape – Pangkor Laut Located off the coast of Perak in the northwest of peninsula Malaysia, Pangkor Laut is a private island hideaway with a gorgeous bay and lush jungles – perfect for couples looking for privacy and a romantic ambience. There is one luxury resort here named Pangkor Laut Resort, so lovebirds feel like they have the entire island to themselves. The many secluded bays, coves and serene beaches here are great for couples looking to spend some quality time alone together. The resort also has a spa village where you can pamper yourselves with Chinese, Malay or Ayurvedic treatments. Pangkor Laut can be reached by boat from Marina Island Pangkor in Perak.
The Diver’s Dream – Sipadan Rising 600 metres from the seabed, off the east coast of Sabah, Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, which makes it a perfect spot for diving, snorkelling and observing pelagic marine life. Hard-core divers flock here to see the famous turtle tombs, whale sharks, green and hawksbill turtles, manta rays, barracudas, big-eyed trevally, hammerhead sharks and more.
The waters here are good for diving all year round, though the best seasons are from April to December. There are many reasonably priced resorts in the surrounding islands that offer dive courses and rent scuba gear. Most people take a flight to the town of Tawau from Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur, then take a minivan or taxi to the port town of Semporna. From there, it is a one-hour boat ride to Sipadan.
The Luxury Seeker’s Sojourn – Langkawi Officially known as the jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. The largest of these is Langkawi Island, which is where you’ll find some of the most luxurious five-star beach resorts. The Datai, The Ritz-Carlton, The Four Seasons, and The Westin all offer guests modern amenities, spas, stunning pools, lavish rooms and sumptuous dining options. You can fly to Langkawi on a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur or Air Asia, or fly Singapore Airlines direct from Singapore.
The Nature Lover’s Paradise – Redang Part of a marine park and a conservation site for sea turtles, Redang not only boasts crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and vibrant marine life, it is also a place with verdant green hills and rainforests that thrive with exotic wildlife. Here, you can go on nature hikes and spot monkeys, squirrels, birds and large monitor lizards. There are a variety of resorts, ranging from budget to luxury to choose from here. You can get a boat from Merang, 30 kilometers north from Kuala Terengganu or catch a Berjaya Air flight from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Redang.
The Backpackers Hangout – Tioman Located just 32 kilometers off the east coast of peninsula Malaysia, in the state of Pahang, Tioman is a densely forested, tropical island with eight rustic villages that are home to cosy resorts and chalets. There are many budget accommodations around the villages of Air Batang, Salang and Tekek, and a younger crowd of backpackers and budget travellers often flock here, giving the place a youthful, party vibe. You can get to Tioman by taking a ferry from Mersing jetty on the mainland.
While you're still reading this, why not: