Malaysia is speckled with hundreds of mesmerizing islands, referred to as ‘Pulau’ by the locals. Some are ideal for diving and snorkeling, while others are perfect relaxing on the white sand with a cocktail in hand.
If there is one thing that all ‘Pulaus’ are famous for, it would be the crystal-clear azure waters, powdery sands, secluded beaches, bio-diverse rainforests and variety of delectable food.
Here are five ‘Pulaus’ that are absolute must-visits for your next sun, sea and sand holiday, according to Luxury Escapes.
Langkawi: Malaysia’s most visited island
Langkawi attracts the most visitors out of all the Malaysian islands. The duty-free shopping, great air connectivity and abundance of luxury accommodation options, makes it a top pick.
If you like your beach holidays filled with activities, then Langkawi will keep you enthralled with great attractions, vibrant nightlife, adventure trips and of course beach-hopping. Datai Bay, Pantai Cenang and Tanjung Rhu are some of the popular beaches in Langkawi and each comes with its own unique character.
At Langkawi, jump aboard the cable car or sky cab to enjoy a panoramic view of the island’s lush green landscape. If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, then we recommend visiting the Sky Bridge, located at the end of the cable car ride. Built on the top of the Machinchang mountain, Sky Bridge is the longest curved suspension bridge in the world and boasts all-encompassing views of the sea, sky and rainforests.
Love snorkeling? Then Coral Garden in Pulau Payar Marine Park is the place for you.
Pangkor: ‘Beautiful’ island for spa lovers
This is the perfect place for a luxurious, tranquil, pampered and leisurely beach life in Malaysia. Pangkor Island is a favorite among both tourists and locals. Home to secluded beaches, the name of the island couldn’t be more apt. Derived from the word, Pang Ko, which means beautiful, it does complete justice to this island of idyllic beaches.
There is plenty to do on Pangkor Island if you ever get tired of basking in the sun. We recommend a light jungle trek, like the Pangkor Hill Trek that starts at Bogak beach. Another way to enjoy the island life is by renting a boat or a yacht and going on a ‘Castaway’ day trip to the small, unspoiled islands nearby such as Pulau Jarak.
You can’t leave Pangkor Island without a rejuvenating half-day or full-day spa treatment at one of the luxury resorts on another island close by, Pangkor Laut. Spa Village at the Pangkor Laut Resort is the best place to experience the healing cultures of Malaysia, China, Thailand, India and Indonesia. Spa Village boasts of an extensive range of treatments from these regions including nap gazebos, bathhouses and spa huts.
Redang: Foodie’s paradise
This island is located in the protected marine waters of the Terengganu Marine Park. Picture crystal clear waters, sugar-white sand beaches and fascinating marine life. The island is perfect for embracing long days at the beach — soaking up the sun, taking a stroll, playing beach volleyball, reading on a hammock or doing nothing at all.
Redang offers a wide variety of authentic local cuisine but we recommend ‘Experience Dinners’ at The Taraas restaurant. Imagine dining on a floating pontoon in the middle of the sea! Sand Table Dinner, Surf Dinner, ‘Robson’ Crusoe Dinner (we’ve spelt that right!) and similar-themed offerings by The Taraas are all about making memories and bonding over delectable food.
Easy accessibility also makes Redang an ideal island to visit. You can fly directly with Berjaya Air from Changi Airport, avoiding any hassle of transfers by ferry or speedboats.
Sipadan: One of the world’s best diving spots
Hardcore divers love Sipadan island, rated one of the world’s best diving spots and famous among scuba divers across the globe. To protect the delicate ecosystem, there are no hotels or restaurants on the island. You will also need a permit to enter the island, with only 120 given out daily. We recommend staying at one of the other islands close-by such as Mabul and Kapali.
Not a diver? Sipadan Island is still a must-visit. Enjoy the incredible biodiversity of the island on foot — it only takes 25 minutes and you’ll discover that the breathtaking island beauty isn’t just underwater. An abundance of turtle and bird species can be found on Sipadan, which was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1933. It is also considered to be the best place to snorkel or swim with turtles.
Rawa: The island next door
Planning your next trip? How about enjoying the turquoise waters of Rawa, an island that driving distance from Singapore! A short 2-hour drive is all it takes to reach the Mersing Port in Malaysia. Rawa is only a half-hour private speedboat ride away.
The island is owned by the family of the Johor Sultanate and promises to offer you an exclusive and secluded beach vacation. Windsurfing, fishing, cruising, snorkeling and diving are some of the many things you can do on this remote island.