When it comes to island and beach getaways, names like Perhentian, Tioman, Port Dickson and Chenang often come to mind. However, there are plenty of other islands and beaches for travellers to choose that are still under the radar. So, to those who are stuck within the Malaysian border, why not take this opportunity to uncover the islands and beaches you have never visited before?
1. Tenggol Island, Terengganu
Located off-coast of Terengganu and not far from Perhentian and Redang, this island is not swarmed with sun worshippers. Nonetheless, Tenggol Island could be one of the best places to enjoy a luxurious beach getaway. Since travellers can expect ideal snorkelling conditions, there are opportunities to spot varieties of virgin coral formations, follow whale shark tours and explore a shipwreck reef, Tenggol is definitely worth the long trip!
How to get here: Arrange a boat from Kuala Dungun jetty to Tenggol, which can be done within 50 minutes by ferry or boat.
2. Gemia Island, Terengganu
Gemia is located 18 kilometres from Marang and derive its name from the kundang tree, better known as gemia by the Terengganu community. Though rather small and intimate, like most islands in Terengganu, Gemia bursts with marine life, making the island a great place for snorkelling and scuba diving! If you are not keen on those activities, you can simply walk around the island’s white powdery beach to relax and take in the exclusive island getaway vibe, including having your fill at the Gem Island Resort & Spa’s food and beverage outlet.
How to get here: Get to Merang jetty in Kuala Terenganu and take a 15-minute ferry ride to Gemia.
3. Lang Tengah Island, Terengganu
With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, Lang Tengah offers glimpses of its rich marine biodiversity. The abundance of coral reefs around the edge make it suitable for snorkelling and beginner scuba diving, besides hiking trails and bioluminescent beach. Since the island is covered almost entirely by rainforest, get ready for some amazing natural scenery while being here.
How to get here: Hop on a boat from Merang jetty that takes about 45 minutes to reach Lang Tengah.
Note: Be sure not to confuse MERANG jetty and MARANG jetty because both jetties have similar names but are at different places!
4. Pom Pom Island, Sabah
Sabah is home to some of the most stunning islands in Malaysia. Pom Pom Island – located 30 kilometres northeast from the town of Semporna – is a tiny island filled with sparkling beach, surrounded by more than 500 vibrant coral species and an important feeding and nesting place for green turtles. In addition, a handful of resorts with overwater bungalows similar to those in the Maldives offer a dreamy island getaway.
How to get here: Take a ride from Tawau to Semporna jetty, then hop onto a speedboat that takes around 40 minutes to Pom Pom.
5. Mabul Island, Sabah
This lesser known island on the South-Eastern coast of Sabah is about 40 minutes away from Semporna. One of the main attractions of Mabul Island is the marine life that can be found along the edge of the continental seabed, definitely ideal for snorkelling, diving, cruising and angling. Travellers can find out more about the life of the inhabiting Bajau Laut community too, including the turtle nesting ground and and hatchery. Don’t forget to admire the sandy shallow water by going muck-diving because the sand underneath the Celebes Sea is home to macro sea creatures.
How to get here: From Semporna, ride on a fast boat to Mabul, which should take about 35 minutes. Alternatively, take a boat ride from Sipadan Island, which takes around 30 minutes to Mabul.
6. Pulau Tiga Island, Sabah
Pulau Tiga is where the TV series ‘Survivor’ by the CBS TV network, USA was originally filmed. For anyone who seek an island full of wildlife and natural beauty, Pulau Tiga fits the bill. Located on the west coast of Sabah and accessible via Kuala Penyu, Pulau Tiga Island has several resorts and the most famous activity here is to hike in the mud volcanoes, on top of scuba diving, snorkelling, and jungle-trekking.
How to get here: Drive to Kuala Penyu from Kota Kinabalu and hop on a 30- to 40-minute boat ride to reach Pulau Tiga.How to get here: Drive to Kuala Penyu from Kota Kinabalu and hop on a 30- to 40-minute boat ride to reach Pulau Tiga.
7. Sandy Skull Beach, Langkawi
Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (‘Sandy Skull Beach’) is a secluded shore on Langkawi’s northwestern coastline. The name comes from a legend about skulls from the victims of nearby shipwrecks that were washed up along the beach. While the clear blue water is good for swimming, travellers can explore the nearby rainforest as well and discover up to the three-tiered and tallest waterfall in Langkawi called Temurun. Being one of the cleanest public beaches on Langkawi, Sandy Skull Beach offers serene surroundings with gazebos for travellers to frolic.
How to get here: From Datai, drive up to Jalan Teluk Yu until you find the signboard that says ‘Hutan Lipur Pasir Tengkorak’ where the entrance to the beach awaits.