Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries on earth. You could spend months exploring the nation and still only scratch the surface. This South Asian country is split in two – one part on the Malay Peninsula and the other in Borneo. There are also more than 800 islands – some of which aren’t inhabited. Known for excellent food, a fascinating history, and some of the best wildlife watching in Asia – if it’s not on your bucket list, you’d better rethink!
With such a long coastline (as well as all those islands we mentioned), you’ll find some top tier beaches in Malaysia. Maybe you want to be surrounded by tropical rainforests and wake up to the sound of birds before your morning swim. Or you might fancy a party beach where you can down buckets and dance ’til the early hours. Perhaps you just need a day trip from Kuala Lumpur and George Town to escape the hustle and bustle. All of this is possible at these awesome beaches in Malaysia!
In this post, we’ll take a look at seven of the best beaches in Malaysia. Not only have we considered why you might want to go to these beaches, but also where to stay nearby and what to do. This guide is your perfect partner in planning your Malaysia beach vacation – so let’s jump in and check them out!
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- When to Go to Beaches in Malaysia
- Most Popular Beach in Malaysia | Batu Ferringhi
- Best Beach for Swimming in Malaysia | Pasi Bogak, Pangkor Island
- Most Beautiful Beach in Malaysia | Perhentian Islands
- Cleanest Beach in Malaysia | Juara Beach, Tioman Island
- Quietest Beach in Malaysia | Redang Island
- Family Friendly Beach in Malaysia | Pantai Cenang, Langkawi
- Best Beach for Scuba Diving in Malaysia | Kota Kinabalu
- Malaysia Packing List
- Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Malaysia
When to Go to Beaches in Malaysia
Because Malaysia is so spread out, it’s hard to nail down the best time to visit. It all depends on where you want to go in Malaysia. The country has two peak seasons – one between December and February, and the other from June to August (but sometimes as late as mid-September).
The dry season of December to February is the best time to visit islands on the west side of the country – such as Langkawi and Penang. However, the second high season in the northern hemisphere summer is better for the likes of Tioman Island and the Perhentians.
The good news is that temperatures stay roughly the same throughout the year – between 22 and 32 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is lowest in July and August. This only changes if you’re travelling into the hills. While it may not seem relevant when talking about the beaches in Malaysia, if you’re planning on spending time in Kota Kinabalu, it’s useful to know!
Most Popular Beach in Malaysia | Batu Ferringhi
- Who It’s For: Need an escape from the hustle and bustle of George Town? The white sands of Batu Ferringhi are ideal.
- Don’t Miss: The nearby tropical spice garden. Wander around freely or take a tour.
Just outside of the second-largest city in Malaysia, George Town, Batu Ferringhi has a bit of everything. Popular with travellers and locals, it’s close enough to the big city to be convenient, but far enough to feel like a different world. It started as a water sports destination – and there are still loads on offer here. However, it has since built up into a popular weekend destination and is one of the top beaches in Malaysia. The well-developed infrastructure means you won’t have to go far to eat, drink, and shop.
Best Airbnb: Aloka Seaview Apartment
With room for four guests, this apartment would suit a small family or group of friends. You can’t really get much closer to the beach, and you’ve got access to an outdoor pool and tennis court!
Best Hostel: Baba Guest House (By The Sea)
There are scores of places to stay in George Town, but why not wake up on the beachfront? Baba Guest House is an inexpensive option, and the staff are super friendly.
Best Hotel: Hard Rock Hotel Penang
Want to live the rockstar life in Batu Ferringhi? The Hard Rock Hotel is for you! It’s got a huge outdoor pool with water slides… when you’ve worked up an appetite head to one of the three on-site restaurants!
Best Villa: Iron Man Experience for 24
This gaudy villa may not be for everyone, but superhero fans will marvel at the attention to detail! There’s space for 24 guests – so it will suit a big group get-together!
Batu Ferringhi Night Market
There’s nowhere better to sample the local street food and pick up some inexpensive souvenirs than the sprawling night market.
Tropical Spice Garden
Just west of Batu Ferringhi is the tropical spice garden, the most extensive collection of flowers and spices in Penang. You can even try cooking classes here! [source: Create Hot Look (Shutterstock)]
TeddyVille Museum Penang
One of the more unusual attractions in Penang, this museum which is dedicated to all things cuddly bears, can be found in the Hilton DoubleTree Resort. [image credit]
Take a guided hike away from the beach and discover the hidden gems in Batu Ferringhi.
Enjoy The Watersports
Get the adrenaline pumping with watersports such as jet skiing and parasailing!
Head to A Theme Park
Ride the world’s longest waterslide – it’s 1,111 metres long – in ESCAPE theme park.
Best Beach for Swimming in Malaysia | Pasi Bogak, Pangkor Island
- Who It’s For: Tourists who want to get off the traditional tourist track – Pangkor is one of the least visited islands and offers some of the best beaches in Malaysia.
- Don’t Miss: Enjoying the shade of a coconut tree after a refreshing dip in the water.
Pangkor Island has several beautiful beaches, so it’s a good idea to check more than just the epic Pasi Bogak. However, if you’ve only got time for one, this spot will take your breath away. It’s duty-free, so accommodation and shopping are cheaper, making it the ideal stop on your Malaysia backpacking itinerary. Plus, it’s just three hours from Kuala Lumpur. The blue waters are warm and largely pollution-free, making it one of the safest places to swim in Asia. Teluk Nipah and Coral Beach are harder to reach but also worth a trip on Pangkor.
Best Airbnb: Cosy studio on the little island
This studio comes with a shared swimming pool and provides lots of useful features like toiletries and towels. So, you can keep your backpack as light as possible!
Best Hostel: Hotel Pangkor SJ
There are no hostels on Pangkor Island. However, this budget hotel has a garden and shared lounge where you can meet other travellers, and you won’t see a big hole in your budget.
Best Hotel: Pangkor Island Homestay
Less than five minutes’ walk from Pasi Bogak, this homestay offers a friendly and welcoming place to stay. Rooms have private terraces and aircon.
Best Villa: Corner Family House Pangkor Island
This gated house offers you the ultimate in privacy and luxury while you stay in Pangkor. There’s a 60-inch TV and games should you fancy a night in!
Dutch Fort Ruins
A testament to when Pangkor was in the hands of the Dutch, this ruin dates back to 1670. [source: Azril Saad (Shutterstock)]
Sunset View Chalet
This hotel is more than just a place to stay. At 6.30 every evening, scores of hornbills fly down here to be fed fruit. It’s quite a sight! [image credit]
Foo Lin Kong Temple
Standing in the heart of Chinatown, this Taoist temple has stunning gardens with a replica of the Great Wall of China!
Get a whistle-stop tour of the island if you only have a day to spare. There’ll be time to stop off and swim!
3 Day Tour
Looking to spend more time here but worried about making your own way from KL? Let someone else sort out the logistics so you can enjoy 3 days on Pangkor Island!
My missus travels with all her clothes in ziplock bags: don’t be like my missus. UP YOUR PACKING GAME!
Packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise its volume too so you can pack MORE.
Or, y’know… you can stick to ziplock bags.View Our Fave Cubes Or Check Out the Sacks!
Most Beautiful Beach in Malaysia | Perhentian Islands
- Who It’s For: Want to enjoy natural, unspoiled beauty with lots of things to do? Look no further than the Perhentian Islands.
- Don’t Miss: Taking a private boat to one of the uninhabited Perhentian Islands – that’s where the best snorkelling is.
There are seven Perhentian Islands with several beaches, including Turtle Beach, Keranji Beach Resort, and BuBu Long Beach. We’d need another article to look at all the great beaches there, so we’ve grouped them all together and you can choose when you arrive. The islands boast some of the best beaches in Malaysia with white sands and turquoise waters, all surrounded by coral reefs. You’ll be able to stay in a hotel right on the beach, spot rays, tropical fish, and turtles when scuba diving. But there are loads more activities on offer like kayaking and jungle trekking too!
Best Airbnb: Chalet at the Beach
Located next to Petani Beach, this is a great place for snorkelling and meeting the island’s resident turtles. Watch the sunset from a hammock between the trees!
Best Hostel: Orang Hutan Camping
Camp out in the trees at this site on Perhentian Islands. It’s near three of the island’s beaches, and breakfast is included!
Best Hotel: Tuna Bay Island Resort
This resort set in the tropical jungle can take care of sorting all your activities. Think snorkelling, fishing, diving, or simply kicking back on the beach!
Best Campsite: Camping with a view
On an island packed with natural beauty, camping allows you to get as close to that as possible. Wake up to the sound of waves at this site just north of Shark Point.
Long Beach to Coral Bay Jungle Trek
This trek through the jungle means you’ll spot wildlife and see two of the island’s beaches in a day. Perfect!
Panorama Divers Buffet
With food to suit all budgets, this restaurant is a great spot to fuel up for the day on Long Beach. [image credit]
Perhentian Turtle Project
Come face to face with turtles and get involved with their work off Perhentian Besar’s main beach. [image credit]
Spend the day spotting brightly-coloured fish and coral reefs on a full-day snorkelling adventure.
Take a 3 Day Tour
Looking to spend three days on the island but unsure how to sort it out? Leave it to someone else. Then, sit back and enjoy the Perhentian Islands!
Cleanest Beach in Malaysia | Juara Beach, Tioman Island
- Who It’s For: Budget travellers on the hunt for natural beauty will love the duty-free prices on Tioman.
- Don’t Miss: Meeting the local fishermen at Genting Village. Come early in the morning to see them bringing in the day’s catch.
This whole island is a nature preserve, meaning there’s little pollution. That’s what makes it such an awesome place to scuba dive and snorkel in Malaysia! Extensive coral reefs are matched on land by the diverse jungles, which make for a great trek. Juara Beach is the only spot on the island that’s good for surfing, but there are several cafes and bars too! Be sure to visit Tioman Island between March and October. For the rest of the year, the monsoon season means there’s little point in seasonal hotels being open.
Best Airbnb: Sunday Juara Lodge. Island Paradise
Right by Juara Beach, this small but colourful lodge is a comfortable place to stay and use as your base. The queen bed means it’s ideal for couples!
Best Hostel: Impian Inn Tioman
This laid-back guest house is one of the few budget accommodations available on Tioman Island. It’s a comfortable option for couples and solo travellers.
Best Hotel: Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort
A romantic resort with lots to offer, including a spa. If you’re travelling as a family, there’s a babysitting service so that parents can have some time to themselves!
Best Beachfront House: Beachfront Guest Suite by the Hill
Located at the northern end of the beach, enjoy a spot of privacy and views over Juara Bay. Your back garden is the rainforest!
One of the most popular restaurants on Tioman Island, it offers an impressive sunset view. That with freshly caught BBQ’d seafood? What more could you want!
One of the most popular hikes on Tioman Island, Asah Waterfall can be reached via multiple trekking trails. [source: Authentic travel (Shutterstock)]
Juara Turtle Hatchery
See several species of turtles and their eggs at this hatchery on Juara Beach. An unforgettable experience! [image credit]
What lurks beneath Tioman Island’s waves? There’s only one way to find out (well, there are a few) – snorkelling!
Take a night dive to see what creatures come out of the coral reefs after dark.
Do An Open Water Diving Course
Want to get your PADI certificate? Take an open water diving course to give you the chance of doing just that!
We’ve tested countless day packs over the years, and now we’ve found our absolute favourite: the traveller-approved Osprey Daylite Plus.
Want more deetz on why we love it so damn much? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!View on Osprey View on REI
Quietest Beach in Malaysia | Redang Island
- Who It’s For: Beachcombers who want nothing more than a gorgeous tropical beach to themselves… at least in the morning
- Don’t Miss: Getting involved with a game of soccer or beach volleyball in the afternoon with the friendly locals on Teluk Dalam.
The paradise island of Redang Island is another of Malaysia’s jewels in the south of the Gulf of Thailand. Beaches here are crystal clear and boast white powdery sand, as well as a huge variety of marine life. There are several beaches on the island – Pasir Panjang is the best known, but Teluk Dalam is where you should go if you don’t want to be disturbed by hordes of tourists. The protected waters are perfect for seeing turtles!
Best Airbnb: Rainforest Chalet Resort
Deep in the rainforest, book an awesome chalet that’s also close to the beach. Rooms come with high ceilings and traditional wooden furniture.
Best Hostel: Dahlia Redang
This budget hotel is less than a mile from Taaras Beach, one of our favourite beaches in Malaysia. Family rooms are available – great for those with kids!
Best Hotel: The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort
This luxurious resort is great if you want to splash out and make unforgettable memories on Redang Island. There’s an all-day restaurant, so you can eat whenever you’re hungry.
Best Homestay: Homestay in Redang Island
Staying with a local family is not only a great way to save money, but also to get insider knowledge about the local area. Take advantage of that with seven of your nearest and dearest here!
Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary
Head to one of the most important beaches on Redang Island and learn about turtle conservation there. [source: mintography (Shutterstock)]
Try local dishes, including fish head curry. Kieara Cafe is one of the highest-rated islands on the island! [image credit]
Kuala Terengganu Marine Park
One of the best places to see local wildlife is in these protected waters. [source: Sondipon (Shutterstock)]
Explore The Underwater World
Go diving and see turtles and tropical fish off Redang Island.
Looking to have everything organised for you and the family? This two night Redang Island getaway takes care of that.
Take A Private Boat Tour
Want to go snorkelling but don’t want to be in a big group? This private boat tour makes that happen – and you’ll probably see turtles!
Family Friendly Beach in Malaysia | Pantai Cenang, Langkawi
- Who It’s For: Active families looking for plenty of activities and a developed area around the beach will love Langkawi’s best-known beach.
- Don’t Miss: Taking the Langkawi Skybridge cable car for views over the island.
Langkawi is made up of more than 100 islands, and while there are thousands of beaches to discover, none will capture you in the way that Pantai Cenang does. There are loads of awesome things to do in Langkawi including water sports options with shops to rent equipment just by the beach. When you’ve had enough of swimming or sunbathing for the day, pop to one of the beachfront cafes or restaurants for a spot of sublime Malaysian cuisine.
Best Airbnb: The Love Shack: A Romantic Getaway
Though it’s a romantic getaway, there’s room for four here, so it could suit family and friends, too. This cute cottage is a piece of history – dating back 130 years!
Best Hostel: Bed Attitude Hostel Cenang
This capsule hostel which opened in 2019 is an ultra-modern place to stay. Enjoy the best of both worlds – your own private space and a dorm price!
Best Hotel: Lot 33 Boutique Hotel
With an outdoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant, you can easily spend a day lounging around the hotel. Particularly popular with couples!
Best Chalet: Seaview Chalet
Part of a resort, this gorgeous chalet is right on the sands of Pantai Cenang. Wake up to the sound of the waves and the sight of palm trees swaying in the breeze!
Underwater World Langkawi
If you don’t have time for snorkelling or scuba diving, you don’t have to miss out on the marine life. Just head to Underwater World Langkawi instead! [source: swevik (Shutterstock)]
Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car
Take a ride into the clouds and walk over the Langkawi Sky Bridge. On a clear day, you can see Sumatra in Indonesia!
Kilim Geofrest Park
On the east side of Langkawi, you’ll be astounded by the karst cliffs and ancient mangrove forest of Kilim. [source: H-AB Photography (Shutterstock)]
Learn about the island’s past on a cultural walk with a local historian.
Swap the warm waters of the beach to see Langkawi’s inland waterways by kayak.
Take A Jetski Ride
Starting at Pantai Cenang, take a 3-hour tour of the island by jetski.
Best Beach for Scuba Diving in Malaysia | Kota Kinabalu
- Who It’s For: Active travellers will love the range of things to do on this awesome beach in Malaysia and the chance to hike Kinabalu volcano!
- Don’t Miss: Seeing the beautiful Kota Kinabalu mosque in town reflected in the lagoon next to it.
Over to Borneo for the last of our 7 best beaches in Malaysia. And what a gorgeous one it is! Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah region, and there are all sorts of awesome places to visit in the area. One of the key reasons to visit is to go scuba diving in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Gaya Island and Manukan should be on your itinerary too, thanks to their epic coral reefs. The most adventurous tourists can look into staying on the uninhabited islands near Kota Kinabalu.
Best Airbnb: Modern and bright CC flat
This city centre flat is bright and cosy, with a balcony that looks out over the city. It’s also next to the biggest shopping centre in KK. Great for hiking supplies!
Best Hostel: Faloe Hostel
One of the most popular hostels in Kota Kinabalu, there’s a lot of free stuff on offer here, including breakfast, Netflix, and tea and coffee.
Best Hotel: Hotel 7 Suria
Overlooking the ocean, this popular hotel is a big hit with couples.
Best Loft Apartment: Hidden Gem Gallery
A gorgeous Kota Kinabalu loft apartment, this colourful space has beautiful furniture and lots of plants to make it feel like a home away from home!
Signal Hill Observatory Platform
The highest point in the city offers views across Kota Kinabalu. There’s a cafe up there, too. [source: Yusnizam Yusof (Shutterstock)]
Sabah State Museum
Learn about not only the heritage of the area, but also science, technology, and art at this large museum complex. [source: Affendy Soeto (Shutterstock)]
Atkinson Clock Tower
Tell the time at the oldest surviving wooden structure in Kota Kinabalu. [source: Damian Pankowiec (Shutterstock)]
Go Scuba Diving
Discover turtles and tropical fish amid the coral reefs of Borneo on a scuba diving adventure.
Take A Cruise
See the unusual proboscis monkey with its odd-shaped nose in the wild. Dinner and a cruise is part of this trip!
Immerse yourself in Sabah’s culture on a three-day trek on Mount Kinabalu. You’ll stay with local families, swim in waterfalls, and taste local products like pineapples and coffee!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Malaysia
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Malaysia Packing List
1. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
2. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl geopress is a true behemoth amongst water bottles acting as a purifier AND temperature regulator – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are.
3. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
4. Headtorch: Every backpacker should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must. Currently, I’m using the Petzl Actik Core rechargeable headlamp – an awesome piece of kit! Because it’s USB chargeable I never have to buy earth polluting batteries.
5.Hammock: Taking a tent and pad on a road trip are not always practical but hammocks are lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy, and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere. Right now, I’m rocking an Eno parachute hammock – it’s light, colorful and tough.
6. Toiletry Bag: I always travel with a hanging toiletry bag as it’s a super efficient way to organise your bathroom stuff. Well worth having, whether you are hanging it from a tree whilst camping, or a hook in a wall, it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Malaysia
Now that you’ve seen the best beaches in Malaysia, you’re probably a bit more clued up on where to go. And you might have dropped a few more pins on your map! Remember, we’ve seen scuba diving and other water sports in Kota Kinabalu, the quiet seclusion of Redang Island, and the all-rounder that is Batu Ferringhi.
The only problem you have now is deciding which beach to visit first! And remember, although Malaysia’s beaches are undoubtedly amazing, leave some room on your itinerary to see other epic attractions. Check out the rainforests of Borneo and its orangutan sanctuaries, the colonial splendour of George Town, and the ultra-modern architecture of the capital, KL.
There’s so much to do in Malaysia and its beaches that it’s impossible not to have a fantastic time. We hope that you’ve found our extensive list helpful and that it’s taken the stress out of planning your trip!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!