The best Malaysian islands

The best Malaysian islands

Written by: Reema Arora

The Malaysia islands look no less than shining gemstones, and the experiences they offer only make them a desirable destination for any type of holiday. Be it romancing with your loved one, spending time with your family, or chilling with your friends, these islands are ideal hotspots to have the best vacation of your lifetime. Scroll through these 15 best islands in Malaysia, and take a note of the top things to do and how to reach there before you head out for your trip. We have considered the nearest airport and the best mode of transport to reach the islands in Malaysia mentioned below.

Top 16 Malaysia Islands

Looking for islands to visit in Malaysia? These Malaysia islands along the coast of Borneo should be on your list because of the breathtaking scenery they have to offer. Make sure to stop by on your trip:

  • Lankayan Island: A Snorkeling Paradise!
  • Layang Layang Island: Spot Some Whales!
  • Selingan Turtle Island: Take A Look At The Little Creatures!
  • Sipadan Island: Enjoy Scuba Diving!
  • Mabul Island: Go Try Kayaking!
  • Mataking Island: Get Pampered!
  • Rawa Island: Try Beach Volleyball!
  • Kapas Island: Go For Jungle Trekking!
  • Tenggol Island: Relax On The Tranquil Beaches!
  • Redang Island: Witness Coral Reefs!
  • Tioman Island: Click Pictures At The Waterfalls!
  • Perhentian Islands: Have Fun At The Bars!
  • Penang Island: Savour Some Local Food!
  • Pangkor Island: Relish Scrumptious Seafood!
  • Langkawi: Enjoy Beach Hopping!
  • Payar Island: For Adventure Seekers

1. Lankayan Island: A Snorkeling Paradise!

islands in malaysia

Situated in the Sulu Sea, this is one of the best Malaysian islands, which is a haven for refreshing oneself amidst the beauty of nature. Apart from offering elegant wooden chalets to spend your holiday, it is also becoming one of the hottest diving spots in the world. This is amongst the most famous islands in Malaysia.

Best For: This tiny jewel-like island is an ideal holiday spot for families with kids, and also for divers.

Things To Do:

  • Stay at the luxurious Lankayan Island Dive Resort
  • Indulge in snorkelling or diving
  • Savour the gorgeous views around

How To Reach: Upon reaching the Sandakan Airport from Kuala Lumpur, wait to get transferred to the jetty from where you can take the boat and reach the island in 75 to 90 minutes.

2. Layang Layang Island: Spot Some Whales!

island in malaysia

Also known as Swallow Reef, Layang Layang is just the perfect place to be if ‘eat, sleep, and dive’ is all you are looking for. While this island is not too cheap, it is definitely a beauty worth witnessing. Make sure to stop by one of the most peaceful Malaysia islands.

Best For: Located in the middle of deep waters, this island is home to rich marine life and refreshing breeze, which makes it a must-visit for nature lovers.

Things To Do:

  • Enjoy the underwater world
  • Spot whale sharks
  • Indulge in sunbathing or bird watching

How To Reach: Take a flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Kota Kinabalu Airport, and then a chartered flight from there to reach the island in around two hours.

3. Selingan Turtle Island: Take A Look At The Little Creatures!

turtle island in malaysia

Located some 40 kilometers away from Sandakan, the Selingan Island offers unique experiences and extraordinary sights that no other Malaysia islands does. With turtles swimming around on the beaches, it is nearly impossible to take both your eyes and camera away from them. It is touted as one of the best Malaysia islands.

Best For: Of all the Malaysia islands, this place is worth visiting with your family, partner, and even friends.

Things To Do:

  • Witness the turtles laying their eggs
  • Indulge in scuba diving and snorkeling
  • Spend time at the beaches

How To Reach: Take a direct flight from either Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu to reach the Sandakan city, and then get on board the 60-minute boat ride to reach the island.

4. Sipadan Island: Enjoy Scuba Diving!

famous island sin malaysia

One of the top islands in Malaysia, Sipadan is home to exotic species like sea turtles, reef fish, and hammerhead sharks. While the island doesn’t offer any accommodation, it is still the best place to escape for a quick getaway!

Best For: Being one of the best diving spots in the world, this gorgeous island near Malaysia is a paradise for divers.

Things To Do:

  • Indulge in scuba diving
  • Experience the thrill of snorkeling
  • Take a tour of the island via Sipadan Liveaboard

How To Reach: Fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu, take a taxi to the town of Semporna from there, and upon reaching Semporna, take a fast boat to reach the island.

5. Mabul Island: Go Try Kayaking!

malaysia islands

A hidden island in Malaysia, Mabul is one of the best Malaysian beach holiday destinations. The island boasts pristine beaches with coconut trees, soft white sand, and emerald water. Thanks to its seclusion, it is still an untouched bit of beauty, which makes a visit here absolutely worthwhile. It is counted among the best Malaysia islands.

Best For: This island is one of the world’s best destinations for muck diving, which makes it a great place for adventure seekers.

Things To Do:

  • Explore the island in a transparent kayak
  • Visit the Bajau Laut Village
  • Witness the gorgeous golden hues of the sunrise

How To Reach: After reaching the town of Semporna from Tawau, take a speedboat to reach the island in 30 minutes.

6. Mataking Island: Get Pampered!

top islands in malaysia for honeymoon

Located in the Celebes Sea, this island is the perfect reflection of sheer beauty, luxury, and serenity. The top-notch resorts here surrounded by sparkling blue waters make it an enchanting place for having a one-of-its-kind experience. It is one of the best Malaysia islands all over the world.

Best For: Home to first ‘Underwater Post Office’ and connecting two islands via a sandbar, this island is best for both honeymooners and families.

Things To Do:

  • Indulge in diving, and explore the famous gardens and viewpoints
  • Pamper yourself at Jamu Spa
  • Take a leisurely walk to the Mataking Kecil Island

How To Reach: Fly to the city of Tawau and then take a taxi or minivan to Semporna. After reaching Semporna, take a speedboat to reach the island in 45 minutes.

7. Rawa Island: Try Beach Volleyball!

hidden island in malaysia

Rawa Island is one of the best island in East Malaysia. For experiencing royalty or having a secluded vacation, this island owned by the Sultanate of Johor is the best place to be. Also, one of the top Malaysian islands near Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Rava is an absolute delight for a weekend getaway.

Best For: This idyllic tropical island is a haven for those in pursuit of peace and wishing to spend some good time with their family.

Things To Do:

  • Indulge in snorkeling
  • Enjoy the fun of water slides with your loved ones
  • Try your hands on fishing, or at a game of beach volleyball

How To Reach: Take a taxi from either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Mersing. After reaching Mersing, take a speedboat or a ferry to reach the island in 30 to 60 minutes.

8. Kapas Island: Go For Jungle Trekking!

beautiful island malaysia

With soft white sandy beaches, palm trees, and colorful flora and fauna, Kapas is a marvel worth witnessing. Out of all the islands of Malaysia, Kapas has the most laid-back and rustic ambiance, which makes it an ideal retreat for a relaxing holiday. This is among the most beautiful destinations for honeymoon in Malaysia.

Best For: Also known as Cotton Island, this is a perfect holiday spot for beach lovers.

Things To Do:

  • Indulge in Turtle spotting
  • Enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving

How To Reach: Take a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu, and from there hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Marang. Upon reaching the Marang Jetty, take a boat till the Island, which would take only 15 minutes.

9. Tenggol Island: Relax On The Tranquil Beaches!

best island in malaysia

Loved by both locals and tourists, the Tenggol Island is like a home away from home. It not only lets you enjoy privacy, but also comfort, making your holiday a beautiful memory you would cherish for lifelong. If you are seeking tranquility then this is one of the best Malaysian islands.

Best For: Offering the vibes of a private tropical island, this is the best island in Malaysia for those looking to escape the crowds.

Things To Do:

  • Enjoy diving at this hidden island in Malaysia
  • Spot the whale sharks
  • Soak in the panoramic views of the island from the hilltop

How To Reach: Take a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu, and from there hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the small town of Kuala Dungun. After reaching the Kuala Dungun Jetty, take the 50-minute boat ride to reach the island.

10. Redang Island: Witness Coral Reefs!

best island in malaysia

If white sand beaches is not something that pleases your eyes, rest assured because this island offers a lot more than that. With plenty of wildlife and luxury resorts around, Redang island is the best island to spend your money and invest your time. This coral island in Malaysia is known for offering memorable experiences!

Best For: Lying amidst the crystal clear marine waters, this island is ideal for those who love every bit of luxury during their summer holiday.

Things To Do:

  • Witness the pristine coral reefs while diving
  • Take a nature walk
  • Stay at a luxurious resort

How To Reach: Head for Shahbandar jetty or Marang jetty from Kuala Terengganu, and take a ferry from there to reach the island directly.

11. Tioman Island: Click Pictures At The Waterfalls!

popular luxury islands malaysia

Named as one of the most beautiful islands in the world in 1970 by the Time Magazine, Tioman island has more to offer than what just comes across. Its natural beauty and wildlife diversity still retains the magic of leaving one in awe.

Best For: One of the most famous Malaysia islands, Tioman is an ideal holiday place for those who love traveling without worrying about the budget.

Things To Do:

  • Indulge in diving and snorkeling
  • Visit a turtle farm
  • Swim under the waterfalls

How To Reach: The only way to reach the Tioman Island by taking a direct ferry from either Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty, after getting to either of the jetties from Kuala Lumpur by air.

12. Perhentian Islands: Have Fun At The Bars!

best malaysia islands

One of the best islands in Malaysia for backpackers, this island is a hideaway waiting to be explored. The beaches are utterly gorgeous, and the accommodation is too cheap. Apart from diving, there’s also a tropical jungle for you to see.

Best For: The Perhentian Islands Malaysia is a shining gem amongst all the islands, and is perfect for budget travelers.

Things To Do:

  • Try scuba walking
  • Chill at Tupai Beach Bar
  • Spot whale sharks and octopuses while diving with Turtle Bay

How To Reach: The only way to get to these islands is by taking a boat from Kuala Besut, which can be reached from either Kuala Terengganu or the Kota Bharu Airport. Both of these airports have direct connectivity with Kuala Lumpur.

13. Penang Island: Savour Some Local Food!

Malaysia islands

If you’re looking for islands in Malaysia to visit in December, there’s nothing better than Penang island. Known for its cultural diversity, heritage, and cuisine, this large and colorful island offer all kinds of unique experiences.

Best For: Known for offering more than just beaches, Penang is one of the best islands in West Malaysia for those who are a foodie at heart or have an interest in heritage.

Things To Do:

  • Explore the Penang National Park
  • Shop at Komtar
  • Indulge in Penang’s street food

How To Reach: While you can reach the Penang Island by train, air, and even road. The best way is to either take a flight from any major city to the Penang International Airport located in Bayan Lepas, and then a direct taxi to the island. Or travel to Butterworth from the North-South Highway for four to five hours via road, and then take a ferry or the bridge to cross over to the island.

14. Pangkor Island: Relish Scrumptious Seafood!

islands in malaysia

This is not another beautiful island in Malaysia. The people here are friendly and the cuisine is lip-smacking, with resorts that offer the best of luxury. With its stunning beauty, a holiday on this island would definitely leave you spoilt.

Best For: If your heart beats for local culture and lifestyle, Pangkor Island is the best place to be.

Things To Do:

  • Take a stroll on the beaches
  • Relish the scrumptious seafood
  • Stay at the Pangkor Laut Resort

How To Reach: Pangkor Island can be reached by taking a direct bus from Kuala Lumpur or Penang to Lumut, and then a ferry to the main island. However, you can also drive or rent a taxi from the city till Lumut if you’re willing to spend a bit more on fuel.

15. Langkawi: Enjoy Beach Hopping!

famous islands malaysia

Langkawi island in Malaysia is the most popular island and Malaysia’s best known holiday destination, Langkawi flaunts the best beaches, mountains, rainforest, and mangrove wetlands. With so much to do and see here, every moment spent here would turn into a memory.

Best For: An epitome of luxury, the best island in Malaysia is a hotspot for both honeymooners and families.

Things To Do:

  • Enjoy the breathtaking views from the cable car ride
  • Visit Gunung Raya, the highest peak on the island
  • Go beach hopping

How To Reach: You can reach Langkawi by taking a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur if you wish to save your time. Though an adventurous way to get to the island is by taking a train from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore till Alor Setar, and then take a boat ride from there.

16. Payar Island: For Adventure Seekers

Pulau Payara Island

Another stunning island in Malaysia is Payar Island which is a hidden oasis located in the Straits of Melaka. The marine park in Payar Island is home to a handful of uninhabited islands that are located between Langkawi and mainland Kedah.

Best For: Watersports activities

Things To Do:

  • Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
  • Grab scrumptious seafood

How To Reach: Can be easily reached via public transport from Langkawi and Kedah

So, which of these Malaysia islands are you planning to visit on your next trip to Malaysia? Let us know in the comments below. We promise that you’ll have a blast and will not be disappointed by the bevy of activities that Malaysia has to offer you. Make sure to ask your family members and friends to tag along with you for a fun-filled memorable experience. It will be worth it!

We Go Find 10 famous places to visit Malaysia for a memorable holiday in 2020

10 famous places to visit Malaysia for a memorable holiday in 2020

Travel Tips

Frequently Asked Questions About Malaysia Islands

Q. How many days do you need in Malaysia?A. In order to make the most of your trip to the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia, you need around 7 days. On a 7-day trip, you can cover most of the happening spots in the country, taking back various memories.

Q. Which is the best month to visit Malaysia?A. To make your travel experience convenient and memorable, you should consider planning your Malaysia trip for the months of November, February and March, as this way you’ll be able to avoid heavy rainfalls.

Q. What is the biggest island in Malaysia?A. Banggi Island is considered to be the biggest island in the country of Malaysia. The island is spread over an area of 440 square kilometers. After this island comes Bruit Island, Langkawi Island, and Penang Island when the size is considered.

Q. Which is the best beach in Malaysia?A. There are various beaches in Malaysia that are a must visit for a memorable trip. A few of them are:
1. Coral Beach
2. Long Beach
3. Gem Island Beach
4. Juara Beach
5. Monkey Bay Beach

Q. How many islands are in Malaysia?A. Being home to a lot of archipelagos, Malaysia has around 878 islands, most of which are still not inhabited. Some of the popular ones you can visit are Langkawi, Perhentian Islands, Redang Island, Pangkor, and more.

Q. Which is the most beautiful island in Malaysia?A. Perhentian Islands are the most beautiful island or Pulau in Malaysia. However, Langkawi, Sipadan,and Redang islands are also gorgeous when it comes to natural beauty.

Q. Which is the best island in Malaysia for honeymoon?

A. Both Langkawi and Mataking Island are perfect hotspots for honeymooners.


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