During a visit to Malaysia it would be a shame to not pay a visit to any of the beautiful islands. There are so many stunning islands to choose from but if you can’t see them all. Here is a run-down of the top three islands to visit in Malaysia.
1. Perhentian Islands
What’s it Like?
Heaven. Seriously, it is still one of my favourite places in the world. I ended up staying here way longer than was planned because I couldn’t bring myself to leave this place. I went to the smaller Island (Perhentian Kecil) which is more popular for budget travelers while the larger island is more family friendly.
The water is crystal clear, calm and clean with white soft sand beaches. You can walk out into the water forever because it’s quite some distance before the sand drops off.
At night the beaches are covered with mats and lanterns for people to hang out at and have a few drinks. It’s a nice setting to meet new people. There are a couple of bars that turn into dance parties later in the night. If you want to avoid the noise make sure to find accommodation at the top of the hill instead of near the beach.
All around this island are amazing restaurants. Really, there is no where I ate that disappointed me.
This is probably the best spot in Malaysia for scuba diving. The beach is lined with scuba shops so you won’t have any trouble trying to find someone to take you out. The islands are part of a marine so you know that the diving will be beautiful. Besides awesome diving it is also cheap due to so much competition.
If you aren’t a diver you can also book snorkeling tours or rent snorkeling gear on the island.
There is also a short hike on the small island that offers a nice view of the island form up top.
How to Get Here
Arriving at the islands is super simple from the small village of Kuala Besut- you can get a bus straight to the pier here from the larger town of Kota Bharu. Once at the pier, purchase a ticket then you will be sent away in a small speedboat to your destination.
During monsoon season this island is actually under water, Therefore, make sure to visit during June to October.
What’s it Like?
Langkawi is an island known for it’s scenery. It has a very relaxed vibe to it (but what island doesn’t) and I found that I had plenty to do within walking distance. If you are comfortable on a motorbike you can rent one and go explore even more of the beautiful island.
I spent my days here lounging on the beach and eating delicious food- my favourite restaurant was Red Tomato. Besides yummy restaurants there are often street vendors selling yummy samosas and other finger food for next to nothing. You can also purchase juicy fresh fruit on the island. My favourite was to buy a mango and eat it on the beach as I watched the sun set.
After the sun has gone down, you can spend your evening at a fun bar on Cengang beach that has hookahs and fire dancers. Just sit on the beach with some new friends and smoke sheisha as you share travel stories and watch a fire show.
Note: The whole island is duty free so you can do some shopping on the island so you will find duty free shops everywhere.
Island Hopping Tour
This is amazing because you get to visit the different islands around Langkawi as well as see some beautiful nature and wildlife.
The islands you visit are all unique from one another. One island had a freshwater lake on it and we were given some time to lay around the lake and go for a dip. Another island had beautiful turquoise waters and was a sight to see. Don’t let them fool you into renting snorkel gear though because it’s mostly just sand on the bottom. However, on land there were quite a few monkey wandering around.
On the boat we also got to see the sea eagles- which is an animal that Langkawi is very proud of. And you don’t just get to see them from a distance, they were swooping all around our boat.
How to Get Here
Langkawi island does have an airport but if you are already in Malaysia it is very easy to reach by a ferry. You can take a ferry from Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah , Penang and Satun. I just purchased my ferry ticket in Penang a couple of days before my departure ( you can ask your accommodation where the nearest ticket office is) and then took a taxi to the terminal on the day I was scheduled to leave.
The ferry rides are between 1- 1.5 hours long and shouldn’t cost more than $20.
3. Tioman Island
What’s it Like?
Tioman is definitely not a party island and doesn’t have a lot of backpackers. If you are a solo traveller this is not the best island to go to meet people, especially because I don’t remember seeing any hostels and there was only one place you could buy beer. You will definitely enjoy this island more if you go with someone.
This island is easy to walk around but it is pretty big so you will do a lot of walking if you want to check out other beaches. There are shacks all over this Island that rent snorkels out for cheap. There is also no shortage of places to jump in to snorkel and no beach will ever be crowded.
Trip to Coral Island
Visiting coral island for a snorkeling tour is a must! This can easily be arranged the night before or even the morning of by asking anyone with a boat. If you will pay they will take you.
The snorkeling at coral island was amazing! I saw a gigantic pink jellyfish. At first I freaked out and quickly swam away until I was at a safe distance. Then I just floated in the water and watched as this beautiful sea creature gracefully bobbed through the water.
Coral Island did have a bit of a currant so you should make sure that you are a comfortable swimmer or that you don’t venture too far from the boat.
The boat driver also stopped at a few other tiny islands to let us swim around. At the second island that we went to I saw a sea snake quickly slither under a rock. The coral and the fish were beautiful and full of colours. I remember feeling like I was in the little mermaid- I even started singing ‘under the sea’ in my head as I swam around.
Even if snorkeling isn’t your thing you can just go along for the ride and to enjoy the different islands and their private white sandy beaches.The boat ride through the islands is beautiful and was the highlight of my time on Tioman.
How to Get Here
Tioman Island does have an airport. However, taking a ferry to the islands is super simple and is less expensive.
When taking a boat to Tioman, make sure that you know where your accommodation is on the island since the boat makes stops at different locations on the island. From the boat dock I just walked until I found a good place to stay. From the airport you will need to take a taxi.