Home to 879 islands, Malaysia is one of the most underrated countries for island-hopping adventures. With unblemished powdery beaches and majestic aquatic creatures, experience these seven lesser-known Malaysian islands (that could give the Maldives a run for their money) without feeling the pinch.
1. Perhentian Islands
Made up of two pristine islands (namely, Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil), the Perhentian Islands is a remote paradise perfect for a weekend of tranquillity. Gorgeous coral reefs and diverse marine life including sea turtles, baby sharks and multi-coloured reef fish make this a sublime snorkelling spot. Not to mention, it’s only three and a half hours away from Penang.
2. Redang Island
Located right beside the backpacker-friendly Perhentian Islands, Redang Island is its neighbour’s slightly more luxurious counterpart. Besides the place’s abundance of resorts and its unparalleled turquoise waters, it is also host to such critters as monkeys, squirrels and monitor lizards.
3. Lang Tengah Island
Another scenic location with white-sand beaches and waters clearer than the sky, this is a tiny blip of an island situated between Redang Island and the Perhentian Islands. If you’re planning for a day trip to this secluded isle, you’ll do well to include the first two recommendations to your itinerary as well. Pop by Pulau Lang Tengah anytime from April to October and you may catch a few nesting turtles.
4. Pangkor Island
Pangkor Island a three to four-hour drive from either Penang or Kuala Lumpur. Home to hundreds of species of wildlife, it offers more than just pretty views of the sea. Away from the pristine beaches and resorts are local fish farms, temples, and tombs. Enjoy a good trek? Head to the top of Tortoise Hill for an unbeatable panorama of the island.
5. Tioman Island
Image: Romain Pontida
Once claimed by Time magazine as one of the most beautiful islands in the world, this teardrop-shaped vacation spot offers an array of activities from scuba diving to jungle trekking to swimming under waterfalls – a rejuvenating experience you won’t want to miss. At SGD60 to 90 for a two-way bus ticket that takes you from Singapore directly to the place, Tioman Island makes for a dirt-cheap weekend getaway destination.
6. Rawa Island
For a more sequestered site, try Rawa Island. Not only is Singapore nearer to it than Tioman Island, it’s also a private islet owned by the family of the Johor Sultanate. And that’s on top of the small island’s idyllic topography, postcard-perfect beaches, and untouched marine life. Don’t forget to book early as its scarce accommodations tend to get snatched up like the wind.
7. Mabul Island
For those who don’t mind venturing a bit farther, Mabul Island is about four or five hours away from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore. The pay-off, however, is spectacular. Dip into the clear, emerald water that surrounds your exotic water bungalow, or discover the rustic village of sea gypsies (also known as the nomadic people of Bajau Laut). Who would’ve thought heaven is a tropical wonderland in East Malaysia?
8. Penang Island
Surrounded by plenty of other smaller islands, Penang Island (not to be mistaken for the state of Penang) is an ideal holiday destination if you want to do some island hopping. This vast island is both modern and traditional, with its capital, Georgetown, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Enjoy one of the island’s most beautiful sunsets from the costal stretch along Batu Ferringhi where PARKROYAL Penang Resort perches overlooks the Straits of Malacca. One thing you must pencil into your to-do list is to try every type of food possible, from ice balls to the Penang Assam Laksa.
Book a stay with PARKROYAL Hotels & Resorts in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or Singapore, and plan a day trip or weekend escape to any one of these stunning islands.