Top 24 Best Beaches in Malaysia

Best Malaysia Beach & Island Vacations 2023

Malaysia boasts fine beaches, as well as some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests and most spectacular cave systems.

Temperatures in Malaysia constantly hover around 30°C (22°C in highland areas), and humidity is high all year round.

The major distinction in the seasons is marked by the arrival of the monsoon, which brings heavy and prolonged downpours to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the northeastern part of Sabah, and the western end of Sarawak from November to February; boats to most of the islands do not run during the height of the monsoon.

The ideal time to visit is between April and October, avoiding the worst of the rains.

Air Batang

Despite its ever-increasing popularity, Air Batang, 2km north of Tekek (jetty to jetty), is still one of the best areas on Tioman and gets most of the budget market.

Although there’s plenty of accommodation, it feels spacious, and development tends to be relatively tasteful and low-key. A jetty divides the bay roughly in half; the beach is better at the southern end of the bay.

A fifteen-minute trail leads over the headland to the north, which – after an initial scramble – flattens out into an easy walk, ending up at secluded Penuba Bay. From here, it’s an hour’s walk to Monkey beach, beyond which is Salang.

Bako National Park

Bako National Park a two-hour bus and boat journey northeast of Kuching occupies the northern section of the Muara Tebas Peninsula at the mouth of Sungei Bako. It’s a beautiful area and the best place to see wildlife in Sarawak.

Many people come on a day trip and then end up staying longer, taking picnics on one of the seven beaches, relaxing at the park headquarters area, or following the trails.

You’ll see plenty of flora and fauna, including the strange pitcher plants, whose deep, mouth-shaped lids open to trapping water and insects which are then digested in the soupy liquid.

The park map clearly shows the sixteen trails, which all start from park headquarters and are color-coded with paint splashes every twenty meters.

If you leave the main trail at the wooden hut and viewpoint just after the kerangas, and turn west, a path descends to two beautiful beaches, Telok Pandan Kecil and Telok Pandan Besar (30min).

The longest beach on the peninsula is Telok Sibur beach. To get there, continue past Tajor Waterfall, following the main trail for around forty minutes, before turning west on the black-and-red trail. The demanding descent to the beach takes anything from twenty minutes to an hour to accomplish.

You’ll have to drop down the cliff face using creepers and roots to help you, and at the bottom, you have to tread carefully through the mangrove swamp. After wading across a river, you reach the beach – not surprisingly, seldom visited.

Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi, a thirty-minute bus ride west of Georgetown on Transitlink #202 or Transitlink air-con #93 (but not the standard #93), has a decent beach and several guesthouses, albeit a filthy sea.

The road runs more or less straight along the coast for 3km, on which all the hotels and restaurants are lined up side by side. The bus stops in the center, where you’ll find the Telekom office, post office, police station, and clinic.

Towards the western end of Batu Ferringhi there’s a small enclave of similar standard budget guesthouses facing the beach – take the road by the Guan Guan Cafe. Here you’ll find the homely Ah Beng, the spotless Baba’s, and the best place, Ali’s, which has a relaxing open-air cafe and garden, and better rooms than most. The most popular of the expensive places are the grand Park Royal, with lavish rooms and five-star restaurants.


Life is simple on Juara. The locals speak less English and are much more conservative than elsewhere on the island: officially alcohol isn’t served. There’s only one sea bus to the kampung from the east coast of Tioman, so at any other time, the journey to this isolated bay must be made on foot through the jungle, a steep trek that takes three hours from Tekek.

The start of the trail (a five-minute walk from the airstrip) is easy enough to identify since it’s the only concrete path that heads off in that direction, passing the local mosque before hitting the virgin jungle after about fifteen minutes. There’s no danger of losing your way: cement steps climb steeply through the greenery, tapering off into a smooth, downhill path once you’re over the ridge.

After 45 minutes, there is a waterfall – it’s forbidden to bathe here since it supplies Tekek with water. From the waterfall, it’s another hour or so to Juara village.

Juara is refreshingly free from the buzz of speedboats and motorbikes, while its lovely wide sweep of beach is far cleaner and less crowded than anywhere on the other side. The bay, however, facing out to the open sea, is the most susceptible on the island to bad weather.

Juara in fact consists of two bays; the northern has a jetty, opposite which the cross-island path emerges. Most of the accommodation and restaurants are here too, although the southern bay does have a few chalets.


Mukut, a tiny fishing village on the south coast, lies in the shadow of granite outcrops. Shrouded by dense forest, and connected to the outside world by a solitary card phone, it’s a wonderfully peaceful and friendly spot to unwind, though be warned that this is still a conservative place, unused to Western sunbathing habits.

The nicest position is occupied by Chalets Park, with secluded chalets shaded by trees. Those at Sri Tanjung Chalets (at the far western end of the cove overlooking a patch of beach – ask at the house in the village where the name of the chalets is painted on a tyre.

The places to eat are few and basic. The Sri Sentosa is a bit on the dingy side, though popular with the locals, while the views from Mukut Coral Resort and the 7-Eleven cafe just by the jetty make up for their lack of variety.


For almost total isolation, head to Nipah on Tioman’s southwest coast. Comprising a clean, empty beach of coarse, yellow sand and a landlocked lagoon, there’s no village to speak of here, but there is a Dive Centre and canoeing.

You might be lucky enough to get a ferry from the mainland to drop you here since there is an adequate jetty, but it’s more likely that you’ll have to come by sea taxi from Genting, costing around RM30 per person.

There’s only one place to stay: the Nipah Resort, offering basic chalets and more expensive A-frames, as well as a nicely designed restaurant; the food can get a little monotonous. The air-con longhouse, Nipah Paradise, at the far end, caters only to pre-booked packages from Singapore.

Pantai Cenang

Five hundred meters north of Tengah, the development at Pantai Cenang is the most extensive on the island, with cramped chalet sites side by side.

The bay forms a large sweep of wide, white beaches with crisp, sugary sand, but again the water here won’t win any prizes for cleanliness.

Plenty of places offer watersports and boat rental, including Langkawi Marine Sports, where you can expect to pay around RM200 per boat (for eight people) for a round-island boat tour, RM110 for a day’s fishing, or RM25 for ten minutes of waterskiing.

The main attraction on Pantai Cenang is the huge Underwater World (daily 10 am-6 pm), where the highlight is a walk-through aquarium.

Pantai Kok And Telaga Tujuh

Pantai Kok lies on the far western stretch of Langkawi and is the best beach on the island, a large sweep of powdery white sand with relatively clear and shallow water – quieter and more secluded than Cenang and more intimate in feel.

Accommodation, however, is limited to a few big resorts, only one of which – the Baru Bay – is actually on the beach.

The road after the turn-off to the Berjaya Resort leads up to the island’s most wonderful natural attraction, Telaga Tujuh or “Seven Pools”, where the mossy rocks enable you to slide from one pool to another before the fast-flowing water disappears over the cliff to form the ninety-meter waterfall.

It’s a steep 200-meter climb to the pools from the base of the hill – in total, it’s about a 45-minute walk from the road near the Burau Bay Resort.

Pantai Tengah

If you head 18km west from Kuah, a clearly signed junction takes you to the first of the western beaches, Pantai Tengah, 6km away. It’s a quiet beach and the sand isn’t bad, but the water is murky. There are also jellyfish, so take local advice before you swim.

Accommodation is limited to a couple of smart resorts and a handful of low-key chalet places. The best of the budgets is Tanjung Malie with comfortable fan or air-con chalets set in a garden, closely followed by the similar Sugary Sands Motel; both are at the northern end of the beach.

For eating, the Chinese restaurants by the junction with Jalan Pantai Tengah have the best atmosphere. Moody’s place on the junction is a good place for Western breakfasts though it’s a little pricey and portions are small.

Later in the day, Charlie’s has beachfront barbecues, and next-door Oasis has the best bar.

Further south, the White Sands Restaurant has very good Malay seafood at around RM17 a dish.

Pasir Bogak

Pasir Bogak is the biggest and most upmarket development on the island but has a disappointingly narrow strip of grubby sand.

Only a few of the chalets front the beach itself; most line the road that continues north along the west coast, but they’re all reasonably close to the sea.

Pangkor Standard Camp is the best deal for those on a budget, sleeping three at a squeeze. A step up is Beach Hut, with pleasant beachfront chalets and simple double rooms.

Khoo’s Holiday Resort is a large complex of tasteful doubles perched on the hillside. The views are fantastic, there are air-con options and the rate includes breakfast.

Sri Bayu Beach Resort is by far the most characterful outfit on the beach. The carved wood and antique-strewn lobby lead onto a well-landscaped garden and chalets.


Penang, 370km from Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia’s northwestern coast, is a confusing amalgam of state and island. Everything of interest in Penang State is on Penang Island, Pulau Penang, a large island of 285 square kilometers which is connected to the mainland by a bridge and by round-the-clock ferry services from Butterworth.

Confusingly, the island’s capital and Malaysia’s second-largest city, Georgetown, is also often referred to as “Penang”. Most visitors make day trips out from Georgetown to the island’s north-coast beaches of Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah, though you can also stay in both these resorts.

Perhentian Besar

The best place on the islands for turtle-watching is undoubtedly Three Coves Bay on the north coast of Perhentian Besar.

A stunning conglomeration of three beaches, separated from the main area of accommodation by rocky outcrops and reached only by speedboat, it provides a secluded haven between May and September for green and hawksbill turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs.

Most of the accommodation on Perhentian Besar is on the western half of the island and tends to be more upmarket than on Kecil.

The beach improves as you go further south and the atmosphere is slightly more laid-back than at Long Beach. The best snorkeling beach (and it’s not privately owned despite signs up saying “only patrons can use our facilities”) is just to the north in front of the Perenthian Island Resort.

There is more accommodation on Flora Bay, the island’s south beach, reached via a trail from Abdul’s.

Perhentian Kecil

On the southeastern corner of Perhentian Kecil lies the island’s only village, Kampung Pasir Hantu, with a jetty, police station, school and clinic – but the littered beach doesn’t encourage you to stay.

The west-facing coves have the advantage of sunsets: Coral Bay is the most popular.

East-facing Long Beach has been the target of most development on Kecil, not surprisingly, since it boasts a wide stretch of white beach and good coral nearby.

However, it’s much more exposed to the elements, the crashing surf forcing many of the chalet owners to close up from the end of October to April.

Pulau Kapas

A thirty-minute ride by fishing boat from Marang takes you to Pulau Kapas, less than 2km in length and one of the nicest islands off the east coast.

Coves on the western side are accessible only by sea or by clambering over rocks, but you’ll be rewarded with excellent sand and aquamarine water.

Like many of its neighbors, Kapas is a designated marine park, the best snorkeling being around rocky Pulau Gemia, just off the northwestern shore, while the northernmost cove is ideal for turtle-spotting.

The only accommodation is at the two western coves that directly face the mainland. The best value is Zaki Beach Chalet, which has comfortable A-frames, and its restaurant is definitely the place to be in the evenings.

Pulau Langkawi

Situated 30km off the coast at the very northwestern tip of the Peninsula is a cluster of 104 tropical islands, the largest of which is Pulau Langkawi.

Pulau Langkawi has seen unparalleled development in recent years: some of the country’s most luxurious hotels are here, and there’s a new airport, but the mountainous interior, white sands, limestone outcrops, and lush vegetation have remained relatively unspoiled.

The principal town on Pulau Langkawi is Kuah, a boom town of hotels and shops in the southeast of the island.

The main tourist development has taken place around two bays on the western side of the island, Pantai Tengah and Pantai Cenang. Of these, Cenang is by far the most commercialized but has some budget accommodation.

The best beach on the island is at Pantai Kok in the west, though there is no budget accommodation here.

Pulau Pangkor

Pulau Pangkor is one of the west coast’s more appealing islands, with some of the best beaches to be found on this side of the Malay Peninsula, and it’s only a thirty-minute ferry ride from the port of Lumut (85km southwest of Ipoh).

The island is a mere 3km by 9km but attracts a lot of weekenders, who have inevitably brought the odd concrete highrise with them, particularly In Pasir Bogak.

Most villages lie along the east coast, while tourist accommodation and the best beaches are on the west side of the island at Pasir Bogak and Teluk Nipah.

Express ferries to Pulau Pangkor run from Lumut approximately every half hour (daily 6:45 am-8 pm; RM2 one way), calling at Kampung Sungei Pinang Kecil before reaching the main jetty at Pangkor Town. You can also catch a catamaran from the same spot for an extra ringgit which will get you to the island in half the time. Buses arrive at Lumut’s bus station a minute’s walk south of the jetty.

The Lumut ferry docks at Pangkor Town, the island’s principal settlement, from where buses and taxis will ferry you to the beaches.

Pulau Perhentian

Pulau Perhentian, just over 20km off the northeastern coast, is actually two islands – Perhentian Kecil (Small Island) and Perhentian Besar (Big Island). Both are textbook tropical paradises, neither more than 4km in length. Not surprisingly, they are a popular getaway for KL and Singaporean weekenders (especially in August) and see a regular stream of backpackers. Life here is delightful, with only flying foxes, monkeys, and lizards for company.

The harsh east-coast monsoon means that the islands, reached by slow and unsophisticated fishing boats from Kuala Besut, are frequently inaccessible between November and January.


North of Air Batang, Salang is a quieter option with a better beach, but there has been a lot of development recently and the string of hostels stretches pretty much the whole length of the seafront; prices tend to be a little higher than at Air Batang.

The southern end of the beach is the most scenic, and the small island off the southern headland has a pretty reef for snorkeling. There are two good dive schools, Dive Asia and Ben’s Diving Centre.

On the right (south) as you leave the jetty is a little cluster of budget places to stay, the best of which is Zaid’s, with attractive hillside and beachfront chalets.

Nora’s Cafe is friendly with well-kept en-suite chalets, behind the little lagoon. Friendly Khalid’s Place, set back from the beach in landscaped gardens, has a range of rooms, including some air-con.

The largest outfit, towards the center of the bay, is Salang Indah, with a range of well-appointed chalets, from sea-facing boxes to double-story family chalets with air-con and hot showers; they also arrange snorkeling trips. The Salang Beach Resort or Salang Sayang Resort has comfortable, hillside chalets.

Pulau Sibu

Pulau Sibu is the most popular – if the least scenic – of the islands after Tioman, though the huge monitor lizards and the butterflies here make up for the lack of mountains and jungle. Like the rest of the islands, Sibu boasts fine beaches, though the sand is yellower and the current more turbulent than some.

Shaped like a bone, the island’s narrow waist can be crossed in only a few minutes, revealing a double bay known as Twin Beach. Many of the coves have good offshore coral.

Most of the resorts on Sibu operate their own boats from Tanjung Leman, a tiny village about 30km down the coast from Mersing and an hour’s boat ride from the island. It’s not an established route, so you must ask the resort in advance to pick you up. O&H; “s boat runs the one-hour journey to and from Tanjung Leman daily (RM16).

Pulau Tioman

Pulau Tioman, 30km east of Mersing, has long been one of Malaysia’s most popular holiday islands. Thirty-eight kilometers long and nineteen kilometers at its widest point, it is the largest island in the Seribuat archipelago and has an inaccessible mountainous spine down its center.

Ever since the 1970s, when Tioman was voted one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world by Time magazine, crowds have been flocking to its palm-fringed shores. Now, noisy express boats travel here in less than two hours and several daily flights arrive from Singapore and other parts of the Peninsula.

Many of Tioman’s nearby islets provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling, and most of the chalet operations offer day trips (RM35) to nearby reefs.

Like the rest of the Peninsula’s east coast, Tioman is affected by the monsoon, making the island hard to reach by sea between November and February. July and August are the busiest months when prices increase and accommodation should be booked in advance.


The sprawling village of Tekek is the main settlement on the island and the least inspiring part of Tioman.

It has been overdeveloped and much of the seafront is now littered, rundown, and fenced in, but it’s the only place on the island where you’ll find essential services: there are moneychangers in the new Terminal Complex next to the airstrip and, a ten-minute walk south of the main jetty, you come to the police station and a post office.

You could distract yourself with the Tioman Island Museum (daily 9:30 am-5 pm; RM1), on the first floor of the Terminal Complex next to the airport. Displaying some twelfth- to fourteenth-century Chinese ceramics, which were lost overboard from early trading vessels, it also outlines facts and myths concerning the island.

North of the main jetty, at the very end of the bay, it’s hard to miss the large government-sponsored Marine Centre (daily 9:30 am-4:30 pm; free). Set up to protect the coral and marine life around the island, and to patrol the fishing taking place in its waters, it contains an aquarium and samples of coral.

Teluk Bahang

Five kilometers west of Batu Ferringhi, the small fishing kampung of Teluk Bahang is the place to come to escape the development.

The long spindly pier towards the far end of the village with its multitude of fishing boats is the focus of daily life. Beyond the pier, a small path disappears into the forest and it’s a two-hour trek west to the lighthouse at Muka Head.

The beaches around this rocky headland are better than the ones at Teluk Bahang itself, but since the big hotels run boat trips out here, it’s unlikely that you’ll have them to yourself.

Teluk Ketapang & Teluk Nipah

Much better beaches than those at Pasir Bogak are to be found about 2km north of here at Teluk Ketapang, whose broad, clean, white-sand shores are edged by palm trees, and at Teluk Nipah, another few kilometers further on.

The best beach at Teluk Nipah is Coral Bay – a perfect cove with crystal-clear sea and smooth white sand. The bay is inaccessible by road and to reach it you have to climb over the rocks at the northern end of Teluk Nipah (watch the tide).

You can’t actually stay at Teluk Ketapang, but there are plenty of options at Teluk Nipah.

Share on: