Our rundown of eight unmissable beaches in Malaysia covers the mainland and islands, with a great selection of both rural and city beaches. Some offer watersports and beachside facilities, while others are more about the scenery and serenity. Which one will you choose?
Bukit Keluang Beach
Located on Malaysia’s peninsular east coast between Kelantan and Terengganu, Bukit Keluang is more than just white sand. Activities include kayaking, wind-surfing, snorkelling and fishing. At Keluang Hill, you can delve into the caves below or take the trail up to a stunning headland lookout point, where the views at sunset are a sight to behold.
People don’t always associate the bustling city of Malacca with beaches, but if you know where to stay you’ll have a top beach right on your doorstep. Klebang Beach is just five kilometres north of Malacca centre and, as it’s a city beach, activities include kite-surfing, horse riding hacks and heading out in a 4×4 vehicle. Plus, the famous Klebang coconut shakes are always on hand for when you want to cool down.
Over in the South China Sea, Tioman Island Wildlife Reserve serves up Paya Beach – a golden stretch of half a kilometre. As well as the wildlife in the jungle, the coast off Paya Beach is known for its excellent coral dive sites and shipwrecks, with top visibility so you can spot all kinds of marine life.
Staying on the beautiful Tioman Island, but on the opposite west coast, is the quieter Juara Beach, the starting point for short jungle treks to the Juara waterfall. Other than a laid-back bar and a fresh fish restaurant, it’s just you, the white sand and the sound of the waves. The southern part of the beach has a turtle sanctuary, where you can learn about conservation and watch baby turtles being released, depending on the time of year when you visit.
Cenang is the longest and undoubtedly the most popular beach on Langkawi Island, with shops, spas and beach bars all to hand, but at 1.5 kilometres long, the fine white sands never feel too crowded. You can go jet skiing, get towed on a banana boat, or just hire a sunbed and gaze at the tropical scenery of the Mat Chinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park and the islands offshore.
The tiny Sibu Island lies 12 kilometres off the Johor coast. It’s been a Marine Park since 1993, so is a prime spot for diving around the coral reefs to see barracuda and colourful nudibranch molluscs. There are several secluded golden sand beaches to the northeast of the island, with sea caves to explore, spa huts on the shore and mangrove swamps beyond.
Bagan Lalang Beach, Selangor
Bagan Lalang is one of the closest beaches to Kuala Lumpur, being just 45 minutes’ drive away. It’s a great spot for families, as you can buy kites from the row of shops beside the beach or try kayaking. You can also paddle out towards the luxury stilted huts of the Palm Tree Resort, which curves out into the sea. Another draw is the generous number of restaurants serving up fresh seafood, along with sunset views.
Rawa Island Beach
The small island of Rawa is owned by the Johor Sultanate and its main beach displays appropriate grandeur. Activities include Hobie Cat sailing, snorkelling and diving to spot jellyfish and black-tip reef sharks. The resorts on the west coast have pretty white beachfront chalets that mirror the colour of the sand.
Wherever you travel to in Malaysia, be it a city or a remote island, you’re never far from a fantastic beach.