10 Islands You Want to Visit in Malaysia

I love island life. I love the sea, the sand and the sun. Ironically, I live in Singapore (which is technically an island) but I just don’t get the satisfaction of what I expect from an island escapade/adventure. I always dream of island hopping in the Caribbean and I absolutely miss my time in Greece 2 summers back. Out of desperation, I sought out islands next door (Malaysia). I’ve been to some on the list and there are others that I’m dying to visit

i.e. like #1 & #2 (insert love sick emoticon).

Totally random, but seeing this picture makes me want to scream “wheeeeeeeeeee~~~~~”.

photo credits: petukhov.anton

* I will be using the term Island and Pulau interchangeably in this article. Pulau means island in Malay Language.

10. Tioman Island

Tioman is situated in Pahang within the Mersing Marine Park and being in Johor, it’s one of the closest island getaways for Singaporeans. In particular, Tioman Island created memories for my first dive trip and it is a fantastic starting point for all of you who are interested in getting your scuba diving certification. (Read 5 Reasons to Make You Want to Dive) Time magazine has also selected Tioman Island as one of the most beautiful islands.


photo credits: paradiseistheworld.com

9. Tiga Island a.k.a Survivor Island

Pulau Tiga is the first location for the popular reality tv show “Survivor”. The island is situated off the West Coast of Sabah in Borneo. There are trails, plenty of trails on the island (including one that leads to a mud bath). It may not be your typical luxury island getaway but this uninhabited place will certainly let you escape from reality – or perhaps bring out the Chuck Noland in you?

Pulau Tiga -0

photo credits: borneotrails.com.my

8. Rawa Island

Rawa Island is another option close to Singapore (even closer than Tioman!) The only way to get there is by a 1 hour ferry ride (or 30mins speed boat) from Mersing Jetty. There are lesser tourist on this small island compared to Tioman so it may be a better choice for those of you who prefer less crowd. Rawa is known for its soft white sand and coral reefs rich with marine life (as it is mostly untouched).

photo credit: Yiping Lim via photopin cc

7. Tinggi Island

Also accessible from Mersing Jetty, Pulau Tinggi is bigger than Rawa but smaller than Tioman. Not only does Pulau Tinggi offer a tranquil island life, it is also populated with lush jungles. This island can be a great family adventure offering both water activities in the deep blue, as well as rock climbing or trekking leading up to waterfalls amidst the rainforest.


photo credits: tourismjohor.com

6. Tenggol Island

Pulau Tenggol is part of a string of islands including Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang, off the coast of Terrengganu. This island is more well-known amongst the divers as it offers abundant marine life compared to other commercialised islands like Tioman. Sightings here include sharks, rays and nudibranch. For the  interest of non-divers, I will quit rambling on and introduce you to Pulau Perhentian – #5


photo credits: travel mylaunchpad

5. Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands have been dubbed ‘paradise’ by some. It is made up of a big island (Perhentian Bersar) and small island (Perhentian Kecil). Both islands are fringed by sandy white beaches, and the reefs and crystal clear water are host to a wide variety of coral, sea-turtles, jellyfish, small sharks and reef-fish. Expect yourself to be part of a scene in the Beach and the Perhentian Islands are certainly not a shabby alternative to Ko Phi Phi.


photo credit: Elmar Bajora via photopin cc

4. Pangkor Island

Pangkor Island is situated off the coast of the Perak state, somewhere between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. It was previously reported that celebrities such as Kiera Knightley, Sting and Anna Friel are fans of the island (or more accurately the privately owned sister island Pangkor Laut). Having said that the main Pangkor Island offers a more affordable getaway with beautiful beaches like Coral Bay and Teluk Nipah. 


photo credits: Malaysiavisit.com

3. Redang Island

I don’t think I need to introduce Redang Island. It is a haven for all islanders. There are plenty of accommodations to choose from; budget to the ones you can splurge on. Period.


photo credits: wallpaperax

2. Layang-Layang Island

Layang Layang Island is also commonly known as Swallow Reef Island. It is one of the most population dive destinations for enthusiast and for the rest, it is a serene island to basically chillax. Bird watching is also a popular activity on Layang Layang. For the wanderers, do be careful because there is a naval base and trespassing will result in detention! Otherwise, just stay underwater, there’s so much to see, or bask in your deck chairs. Either way, this is a blissful island retreat.


photo credits: Avillion Layang Layang Island Resort

1. Mabul Island – (Sipadan)

Just look at that accommodation! I want to jump into the waters right there and then. Who needs Maldives when you have Malaysia?! (Haha okay I’m kidding, I want to go Maldives too). But this place is heaven – friends who have been there swear by it. I’ve included Sipandan as part of Mabul Island as it is a beautiful dive destination but I’ve been told by Malaysian friends that you need a dive permit to head there. If you don’t have one, stay on Mabul Island, which is equally deserving. Though, being number 1 comes with a price, be prepared to burn a hole in your pocket!


photo credits: Sipadan Water Village

DREAM of living in a beach house, by the deep blue sea and waking up to the waves crashing against the shore.

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

45 thoughts on “10 Islands You Want to Visit in Malaysia

    1. Hi Xue Wei! Thanks for the compliment. I like the simplistic layout on your blog too! 🙂
      The settings are probably dependent on your template (I’m not quite sure myself, I just fiddle around)! I always pick “images” as my format instead of “standard”. I think that’s how it becomes a post in different pages. Try it!

  1. Hi! I m from.singapore too and I havee been to many Islands in malaysia. U may wanna try out Kapas Island, Sibu Island, Lang Tengah Island and Gemia Island too 🙂 Ive visited Rawa and Its the best!

  2. Pulau Tinggi is one of the best ever. Clear water and also a fishing heaven for anglers. Been there twice and had a wonderful time and experience.

  3. It’s Perhentian , not Perhantian. = ) One alphabet wrong might not get you to the correct place tho…= P

  4. I’m from Malaysia, now located at Sabah. You should probably consider include Kapalai Island, Mataking Island and Pom-Pom Island. Kapalai island is as good as Maldives with less harm to your bank. Mataking Island in my opinion is the best island in Malaysia. Find someone local, then u can get local price ^^ so you wont have a hole in pocket

    1. Sounds like a plan! I visited Sabah 2 years back. Lovely landscape you have there (and don’t get me started on the yummy food). Will definitely get my local friends to take me to those islands you’ve mentioned. Another reason to visit again! 🙂

    1. you aint seen no ‘maldives of malaysia’ till you’ve seen pulau mataking, pulau kapalai, and pulau pom pom in sabah 😉

  5. I love everything about islands and sea but wonder if some of these have nightlife as well. I like live music, esp. a laid back reggae vibe when I’m on an island!

    1. I’ve heard good stuff about nightlife on Perhentian! 😉 I’m pretty sure you’ll get the fair share of nightlife on more populous islands (and I second the reggae tunes, reminds me of the movie the beach!)

  6. Awesome lists. I’m staying in MY for 2 years now and I’ve been to Tioman only. This list is an inspiration to explore MY moreeeeee. Sipadan looks inviting.

    Rawa on my mind. 🙂

    Thanks for this info. 😉

  7. I used to owned a piece of land (2acres) on Pulau Besar,off Mersing and beside Pulau Rawa and,Pulau Tengah.Mersing has a few islands ; Sibu island ,Pulau Tinggi (as mentioned in the post),Pulau Aur,but which are quite a distance from the Mainland Mersing.The boat trip is quite exhausting and infrequent.,and also risky during emergency.

    What about Langkawi and its 99 islands (off Kedah,in the north of peninsula Malaysia).These are also worth visiting and explored.

  8. Each of them look amazing. I am hoping to visit within the next year while growing my business. The beach tour will be a must. What is your favorite beach that you’ve been to?

    1. Do enjoy your visits to the islands! 🙂 Are you referring to those I picked out on the list? Because it’s really hard to make a choice (I really really want to visit Mabul though)! Aside from the islands above, one of my favourite beaches would be one in Sabah at a place called Kuala Penyu. Google it! Beautifully wide-stretched and flour like sandy beach. It’s very calm and serene. Waves are slightly too aggressive to swim but it’s nice to just sit back and hear it crashing against the shore…

    1. Hi there! I haven’t forgotten about it! 🙂 But as a local, Sentosa Island is too commercialized and expensive for my liking! But it’s worth a visit if you’re in SG. Check out USS and the Aquarium. 😉

  9. try Mataking Island and Lankayan Island, both are in Sabah…

    Mataking is accessible by boat from Semporna (same jetty as Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai)

    Lankayan is accessible from Sandakan

    have fun exploring 😉

  10. Hi, my wife is from Singapore, I travelled there 3 times already and many more to come, we also have relatives in Malaysia, Melaka, and I agree, in Singapore you don’t feel like being in an island, so developed, you feel like in another busy city in States/Europe. We are planning to retire in Malaysia when the time will come and you article just helps us a bit more. I perfectly know it gonna be at the sea shore cos i love the sea, I live in southern Spain, Fuengirola, province of Málaga. Many ppl may think Málaga is a “wow” but in my own opinion Asia offers much more for a nice retirment such as in food, weather, charming people…peace and tranquility. love your article. Good job, xin ku ni lah

    1. Thank you for such warm compliments. 🙂 Well, the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it? Nonetheless, I hope you find that perfect island to retire in. I’m glad my article came in handy. All the best to you and your wife! 🙂

  11. The photo of Pangkor is highly misleading. Waters in Pangkor are murky and not the photoshopped clear in the photo. It is vastly expensive and commercialized. Beaches are some of the lower qualities comparable to Port Dickson.

    1. Hi Shermin,

      I think the visibility would depend on the weather conditions for the day as well! The waters in KK are known to be really clear though. You can start there. 🙂

      Eileen. x

  12. Wow! This really showcases a side to Malaysia that doesn’t always show up! Mackinnons Travels does really reasonable tour packages, maybe check them out if travelling from Sri Lanka?

Peregrinate with me

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