Situated on the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, Malaysia consists of hundreds of islands that feature gorgeous beaches marked by crystal clear waters and pristine beaches. Once often overlooked by Western tourists, more and more people are flocking to the area to not only enjoy the beautiful weather and beaches, but also explore the lush rainforests and experience the unique culture, history, and cuisine. With so many beaches to choose from, it can be almost impossible to decide which Malaysian beaches you must visit. To make this decision easier for you, here are five of the best beach spots in Malaysia.
Located on the north side of Pulau Redang, which tends to be a favorite island of tourists from all over the world, Coral Beach offers visitors the opportunity to partake in numerous water sports, while also enjoying the white sandy beaches and clear, warm, and calm waters of the South China Sea. Starting just 50 feet from the shore are innumerable coral reefs that serve as home to a wide array of tropical fish, along with jellyfish, turtles, and the occasional baby reeftip shark, making it the perfect beach for anyone interested in snorkeling and diving. A dive center is centrally located on the beach and provides equipment rentals, as well as certified instructors for anyone who is new to diving. (Be aware that the further out you go, the stronger the currents will get.) Additionally, underwater cameras are available for rent. When you turn the camera in, you will receive a CD that includes all your photos.
On Coral Beach, you can also rent sea kayaks, build elaborate sandcastles, or play a game of beach volleyball. However, water skis and jet skis are banned to protect the reefs. In addition, you can fish, but you must be at least 2 miles away from the shore. Of course, there are plenty of fishing boats for hire for excursions out on the water.
Juara Beach on Pulau Tioman
Despite being located in a secluded bay on the eastern side of Pulau Tioman, Juara Beach is a popular spot for travelers who simply want to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the brilliant turquoise water and the lush palm trees blowing in the breeze. The beach’s left side is ideal for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling, especially around the Salang Reef South. The Salang Reef South is a great breeding ground for a variety of colorful fish, such as butterflyfish and rabbitfish. Surfing is also an option on Juara Beach.
On the south end of the beach, you can visit the Juara Turtle Project, which works to protect the sea turtles of Tioman, or the small restaurant that serves fresh fish. On the other end of the beach, you can follow a marked path through the jungle to an exquisite waterfall that also offers a quiet spot for swimming. On a side note, Pulau Tioman served as the backdrop for the 1958 movie “South Pacific.”
Layang-Layang Beach on Labuan Island
Located on Malaysia’s “man-made island,” Layang-Layang Beach originally served as a base for the Malaysian Navy. Today, it is open to everyone and is considered by avid divers to offer “a kaleidoscopic underwater world that is like no other.” Additionally, the underwater visibility extends to more than 40 meters, giving divers the chance to see everything from barracuda and turtles to dolphins, manta rays, and even sharks. (It is worth noting that from April 1 to May 15, divers are charged a surcharge due to the large number of hammerhead sharks that swim through the area.) Quiet and peaceful, Layang-Layang is home to sparkling azure water and pearly white beaches that back up to lush grassy areas.
In an effort to ensure the beach, its waters, and the coral reefs remain unpolluted and unspoiled, no fishing or motorized water sports are allowed in the area.
Located on the Perhentian Islands, Keranji Beach, previously known as Mira Beach, is best known for being a tranquil, peaceful, quiet, and extremely private beach with warm, crystal clear water and white, powdery beaches. Far from civilization and fringed with lush vegetation that ensures the beach stays separate from the rest of the island, the idyllic setting is home to birds, butterflies, gecko lizards, and even a few squirrels.
Thanks to how quiet and serene the area is, you can snorkel right off the beach and catch sight of plenty of colorful, little fish who call the coral reefs home. Traditional beach huts are available for rent on the beach, making it easy to spend several days in this tranquil setting. Again, be aware that there is wildlife in the area, including the friendly, resident otter.
Situated on the northwest tip Langkawi, Datai Bay has been named one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Beaches in the World and is largely considered to be one of Malaysia’s most unaltered and beautiful beaches. The pristine white beach is slightly less than a mile long and gives way to the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea on one side and the rainforest that sits at the base of Gunung Mat Chinchang, a UNESCO World Heritage Geopark, on the other. The rainforest just happens to be home to over 530 different species of butterflies, along with hornbills, colugos, and dusky langurs, meaning it is very possible you will hear birds or monkeys calling to each other while you sit on the beach.
Datai Bay is known to be rich in marine life, including the Indio-Pacific humpback dolphin, which can frequently be seen breaching the water in a series of acrobatic leaps in the distance. And, like so many other Malaysian beaches, Datai Bay has beautiful coral reefs not far from shore that offer plenty of chances to get up close and personal with marine life.