Malaysia is a magnificent country that has dozens of islands on both the east and west coasts.  It has some of the most amazingly beautiful coastlines in the world.  There is such a wide variety of beaches in Malaysia, from the very cosmopolitan to the elite to the very secluded, that anyone wanting some fun in the sun you will find the perfect Malaysia attractions that will fit your desire.  Below is a list of what I consider the best beaches in Malaysia.  It is not all-inclusive, but will give you a great idea of what wonderful things await you on your dream vacation.

 

1. Langkawi

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Austin Smith

Langkawi is located next to the border of Thailand, and is considered one of the best places to see in Malaysia. The area is an archipelago of spectacular islands in the Andaman Sea, and therefore is covered with countless beaches.  There is such a wide variety of beaches that everyone can find one that is that perfect spot for themselves.  You will find beaches with pure white sand and others that are beautiful golden sand.Some are very private and secluded, some are best suited for various water sports, and still others are the hottest beaches in Malaysia for the parties and family times.  One of the most popular Malaysia attractions is the 2,200-meter-long cable car, which rises some 710 meters above sea level. It takes you high enough up that you can get a great view of the entire archipelago and take in all of its glory.  There is every type of accommodation you could desire, from low-budget hostels to the highest-end resorts.  So for a great vacation at some of the best Malaysia beaches, Langkawi is where you should head first.

 

2. Tioman

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Juska Wendland

Tioman is one of the most popular beaches in Malaysia for a holiday destination for travelers. It is a beautiful island that was used as a backdrop for the 1958 movie “South Pacific”, and Time magazine named it one of the world’s most beautiful islands in the 1970s.  You can reach Tioman by ferry from Simgapore if you are there, if you aren’t in the country.  It is Mersing in the state of Johor, which if one of the most exciting places to see in Malaysia.It is a beautiful teardrop-shaped island in the South China Sea that is generally considered one of the best beaches in Malaysia because of the amazing surroundings that are prevalent.  There are trails and wildlife that originally made the island famous and are still there today for all to enjoy.  You can see many amazing native animals such as the giant monitor lizards and much spectacular marine life.  It is certainly one of the Malaysia beaches you will not want to miss.

 

3. Layang-Layang

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Scubanut aDa

Layang-Layang is one of the best beaches in Malaysia, and arguably the world, for scuba diving. This magnificent tiny little island located northwest of Kota Kinabalu was originally created by the country’s navy. They reclaimed the land from the sea to prove the nation’s independence from the Spratlys, which were also being claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  It is now an amazing coral reef in some of the most pristine waters you will find anywhere.These waters drop to over 2,000 meters and are full of some of the most spectacular varieties of marine life.  There are many manta rays, dolphins, barracuda and turtles as well as an abundance of the amazing hammerhead sharks.  This is one of the more isolated beaches in Malaysia, therefore it isn’t as crowded as many of the other Malaysia beaches.  The beautiful coral reef and crystal clear water makes it great for not only diving but snorkeling and swimming.  Simply fantastic!

 

4. Penang

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Artem Bagaev

Penang is a beautiful island that is known as the “Pearl of the Orient” and certainly lives up to that and is one of the best beaches in Malaysia. Once called Prince of Wales Island, this magnificent vacation spot is one of the best places to see in Malaysia as well as the rest of the world. It is one of the UNESCO sites because of it’s rich history.  It was once part of a series of sea trade outposts known as the “Straits Settlements” between India and the rest of Asia.  This incredible history is the pride of the island and displayed in amazing ways.There are many cultural festivals and fairs that everyone can enjoy.  The amazing waters and beaches of this island are such incredibly beautiful places to enjoy the sea and all of the fantastic water sports you could desire that you will want to spend a lot of time here.  While you are here, you will most certainly want to try all of the delicious street food vendors that are in the area.  There are amazing samples of seafood, banana leaf and so much more local favorites that will amaze you.  Grab some of the best and enjoy it on your favorite beach in Malaysia while you get in a lot of swimming, diving or other fun in the water.

 

5. Pantai Cenang

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Filip Splawiec

Pantai Cenang is one of the favorite beaches in Malaysia, especially for families. Located on the Langkawi archipelago, it is a fantastic place to play in the water, on the shore and along the strip that has many shops and restaurants.  There are many vendors right along the beach that will rent equipment from jet skis to boats to diving equipment and any other things that will make your day in the water the best ever.The beautiful white sand beach with swaying palm trees providing some shade even offers parasailing for the adventurous.  On the northwest coast of Langkawi is Pantai Kok, which is one of the more secluded of the Malaysia beaches so is very quiet and relaxed.  Both of these have fantastic food vendors where you can get some of the best seafood you have ever had, along with other local delicacies.After a fantastic day of playing in the ocean at whatever water sport you like, relax on the beach with your favorite tropical drink and food and you will have a vacation you will never forget.  There are many Malaysia attractions in this area, and hotels that are right on the beach to complete your adventure.

 

6. The Perhentian Islands

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Hamad.RD

The Perhentian Islands are a more isolated group of islands, which makes them one of the favorite Malaysia attractions for backpackers and anyone wanting to spend time on a more quiet and secluded beaches in Malaysia. The waters are so magnificent that it is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.  There is such an amazing variety of marine life to see here.  Many trails to venture down is what makes it so great for backpackers.You can spend the days diving or playing in the water or sunbathing on the beautiful beach, or hire one of the many guides that can take you fishing or to swim with the sharks and turtles.  Then during the evening, watch a spectacular sunset while enjoying drinks on one of the many cushions that the many beach bars set up.  Whatever would make your vacation special, you can find it here, which makes it one of the best beaches in Malaysia.

 

7. Labuan

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Mohd Saifulrizan

Labuan is one of the Malaysia beaches that is considered the “isle of bankers”. Located on the east coast of the country, Labuan has special status as an international offshore financial center and free trade zone which brings in professionals and corporations in the financial sector from all over the world. Most importantly for the people that love to dive is that it is wonderful for wreck diving.  Many ships have sunk in these shallow waters, which makes it such great scuba diving for even the newest divers.The many wrecks are known as the American, Australian, Blue Water and Cement Wreck.  There is also a War Cemetery that is such an interesting place.  It holds an annual ceremony that is in honor os the 3,900 Allied soldiers who died during in World War II.  It is one of the most popular Malaysia attractions for locals and tourists alike.

 

8. Sipadan

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Dan Smo

Sipadan is one of the best beaches in Malaysia for the most experienced scuba divers.  It is located in the center on the planet’s most bio-diverse marine habitat, which makes it the most spectacular place to dive.  With hundreds of species of coral, an over 3,000 species of fishes, there is so much to see.  You will also find plenty of sting rays and sharks as well as many turtles, both hawksbill and green.

There is an underwater labyrinth where so many of the magnificent turtles have drowned that it has become a world famous turtle tomb.  In the effort to protect this most beautiful of Malaysia beaches, there have been some restrictions put in place.  Night dives have been banned, and there is a limit of 120 divers per day, but all of this has been readily accepted and has done wonders to preserve this amazing but fragile ecosystem.

If you are a diver, or just love an area that is devoted to such an amazing ecosystem, you will certainly find that this is one of the best beaches in Malaysia as well as the entire world.

 

9. Redang

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Kai Kai

Redang is actually an archipelago consisting of nine islands, namely Lima, Paku Besar, Paku Kecil, Kerengga Besar, Kerengga Kecil, Ekor Tebu, Ling, Pinang and Redang itself.  The entire region is considered one of the best beaches in Malaysia for anyone’s dream vacation.  As a group, these islands comprise a marine park that is simply fantastic to see.

This group of islands is more of a resort destination with all of the highest-end accommodations that any vacation-goer can expect.  They even have their own airport, so one can fly directly in and start enjoying the fun and sun immediately.  The crystal clear waters of Redang are home to some spectacular coral reefs which makes it ideal for snorkeling and diving.  It was also on this Malaysia beach that the Hong Kong movie “Summer Holiday” was filmed.

The success of this movie was probably the impetus for it becoming the more elite vacation spot and the higher number of tourists than other portions of the country.  That also means that these are the best beaches in Malaysia in terms of the number of vendors and services right on the coastlines.  For the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation you have ever had, this is certainly one of the first Malaysia beaches you will want to visit.

 

10. Rawa

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Charles EYES PiX

Rawa is a beautiful island that is owned by the family of the Sultanate of Johor, making it one of the rare Malaysia beaches where you can stay on a Sultan’s private island.  Located off the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, its magnificent white sand coastlines are only accessible by boat from the mainland which makes it one of the most secluded beaches in Malaysia.  This is certainly one of the popular reasons to spend your vacation on this island.

Besides the fantastic waters that are wonderful for any water sport venture you care to undertake, there are amazing dramatic rocky cliffs that plunge directly into the sea.  You can also climb up a steep set of steps to a high vantage point where you can take in Rawa and the other 12 small islands that make up the Johor Marine Park, which is a spectacular view.  You will certainly want to make these Malaysia beaches a priority to visit while on your vacation.

 

11. Pangkor

 

best beaches in Malaysia

Flickr Credit: Andrew Loh

Pangkor is one of the beaches in Malaysia that is favored by locals.  While it is a tiny island, it is actually one of the most accessible islands in the country.  It is a fishing village that is not crowded by tourists, but is full of friendly locals and a huge variety of amazing local cuisine.  It is a perfect place to enjoy the magnificent water, sunbathe and enjoy the food.  It is an incredible time when you can spend your time on one of the best beaches in Malaysia with the local people and learn of their ways and foods and family traditions.  It is not to be missed.

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Justin Carmack
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!
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