Malaysia's Beautiful Beaches and Islands

Malaysia is justly famed for having some of the world's most idyllic beaches and islands, with over 4,600km of coastline and dozens of gorgeous islands to choose from.

Teluk Nipah, Pulau Pangkor

As you can see from the two interactive maps which I have compiled below, Malaysia's coasts are lined with beach and island tourist destinations ranging from uninhabited coral atolls to built up and developed islands.

Starting with Peninsular (or West) Malaysia I have marked 74 beaches and islands on the map.

View Larger Map

By the way, beach in Bahasa Malaysia language is 'pantai' and island is 'pulau'.

The west coast has relatively few of the classic golden sand beaches. This is because much of the shore is lined with mangrove forests or muddy swamps and many of Malaysia's mighty rivers, flowing westwards into the Straits Of Malacca, deposit their silt, sediment and vegetation onto the muddy shorelines.

Furthermore, being one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, there is a fair amount of rubbish and pollution which washes ashore.

Having said that, the west coast is dotted with a number of paradise islands and beautiful beaches. Working down from the north, Langkawi Island share many of the geographical characteristics of other famous Andaman Sea islands such as Thailand's Phuket, 200km further up the coast.

Next there is Penang, a booming economic powerhouse with a large population, a dynamic industrial and commercial hub, a UNESCO World Heritage site (Georgetown) and some beautiful beaches including the famous Batu Ferringhi.

Further south there is Pulau Pangkor, a scenic island with a more tranquil atmosphere. The island boasts some sparkling sand beaches such as Teluk Nipah, secluded coves and an active fishing community.

Closer to Kuala Lumpur you can explore colourful islands such as Pulau Carey, Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) and Pulau Indah. There are no beautiful beaches here but they are all interesting in their own way.

Port Dickson is the closest sandy beach to Kuala Lumpur and for that reason is very popular with local and foreign visitors alike.

The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is essentially one continuous sandy beach from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu to Kuantan so you are spoilt for choice.

Cherating, with exclusive resorts like Club Med, is one of the more famous stretches of beach on this coast where you can ocean kayak, sail and windsurf.

Perhentian Islands

Off the east coast are some of the country's best beaches and islands diving resorts, including Redang Island (famous for wreck diving), the Perhentian Islands and Tioman Island where you can admire tropical fish and other aquatic life in crystal clear water.

View Malaysia Beaches & Islands (Sabah, Sarawak & Labuan) in a larger map

In East Malaysia (Sarawak, Labuan and Sabah) I have listed 23 famed beaches and islands on the map. (Pan with the right arrow if Borneo is not showing on the above map).

Just off Kota Kinabalu are five unspoilt islands making up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a great destination for snorkelling, relaxing and spotting giant lizards.

On Sabah's eastern coastline, in the Sulu Sea off Sandakan you can find many of Malaysia islands' premier scuba diving sites such as Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Layang-layang and Turtle Islands Park where you might encounter turtles, sharks, manta rays and more.

I plan to visit as many of these 97 beaches and islands as I can over the coming months and years (tough job!).

Click on the links below to view reviews of the ones I have visited so far.


Langkawi Beaches

Which is the best beach in Langkawi? Here I review a dozen top Langkawi beaches and give you my suggested rankings. 

Manukan Island

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park 

Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands have white sand beaches and varied aquatic life but is this the unspoilt marine paradise that some claim? Here is my personal view. 

Pangkor Island

Pangkor Island

Pulau Pangkor, with its fine beaches, interesting fishing villages and laid back atmosphere is a great place for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

Pantai Cahaya Bulan

Moonlight Beach (Pantai Cahaya Bulan)

Pantai Cahaya Bulan is probably the closest beach to Kota Bharu but it was quite a tiring trip for my poor old tricycle driver. 

Pantai Irama

Pantai Irama

Coastal erosion has taken its toll on Pantai Irama, once rated as the most beautiful beach on Malaysia's East Coast, but it is still a nice beach. 

Bukit Keluang

Bukit Keluang

Bukit Keluang has some of the best coastal scenery in Malaysia with lovely beaches, a walkway along the cliff edge, caves and a hill with superb seaviews. 

Cherating Beach

Club Med Cherating

I had never seen myself as a Club Med sort of person but this superb resort really changed my perception. 

Carey Island

Pulau Carey

Carey Island is famous for oil palm plantations, seafood and ethnic wooden handicrafts produced by the Mah Meri Orang Asli community. 

Crab Island

Crab Island

A ferry ride to Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) makes an enjoyable daytrip from Kuala Lumpur. Enjoy tasty seafood and explore the fishing village built on stilts amid mangrove swamps. 

Pulau Indah

Pulau Indah

Pulau Indah is an unusual island - a combination of container port, industrial estate, mangrove coast and sleepy kampungs. Read about my visit here. 

Morib Beach

Bagan Lalang, Batu Laut and Morib Beaches

Bagan Lalang Beach, home to the Golden Palm Resort, together with Batu Laut and Morib are some of the closest beaches to Kuala Lumpur.

Port Dickson

Port Dickson

Which is the best beach in Port Dickson? Here I review a dozen top Port Dickson beaches and give you my suggested rankings. 

Teluk Bahang

Teluk Bahang

Teluk Bahang is a busy fishing village in the northwest corner of Penang. The beach looks inviting but is not advisable for swimming. 

Pulau Besar

Pulau Besar

Pulau Besar is part beach resort and part Islamic pilgrimage site. There are also legends of elves, goblins and strange rocks. Worth a visit.

Teluk Batik Beach

At Teluk Batik Beach, located close to Lumut and Sitiawan, the family can enjoy a day frolicking in the sea and trying water sports. Lifeguards, shops and facilities are on site.

Pantai Puteri

Pantai Puteri

A long, sandy and reasonably clean beach at Tanjung Kling, close to Melaka, and popular with locals for seafood. Visitors can also visit Hang Tuah's tomb nearby.

More beaches and islands will be added soon.

Would you like to experience some of the places and activities described in this website?

Want to sample some of the local food but not sure where to start?

Would it be great to have a trusted local expert to show you around?

If your answer to these questions is 'yes', take a look at Withlocals.

Withlocals brings together travellers with locals who have talent, passions and skills to share. Read more

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