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Malaysia Beaches


Malaysia is hot and humid all year. Good beaches are not inexpensive, particularly the premier beaches which are often owned by exclusive - and expensive - resorts. They are, however, superbly run and well maintained, so if you can afford them you won't be disappointed.
Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is not especially interesting, though safe and has great dining options.

'Haze', caused by forest fires and slash/burn agricultural practices in both Malaysia and Indonesia has, in the past, obscured the sun and reduced air quality around Aug-Sept, but does not seem to be such a problem in this millennium.

Plus: genuine tropical wildlife is often very nearby or even on the beach, Malaysian facilities are efficient and sophisticated, it's fairly crime-free, and local cuisine is varied and excellent.
Minus: the humidity is energy-sapping, costs can be wallet-sapping and it's often very commercial. Most islands will require a potentially bouncy boat ride to get there, especially off-season.

Pantai Teluk Belanga [Emerald Bay], Pangkor Laut [West-centre]
Emerald Bay, on a tiny, privately owned island off Malaysia's west coast, is often listed in the top ten world's best beaches. The bay is a perfect crescent shape, with soft golden sand and calm emerald-green water.
This is the property of the luxury Pangkor Laut Resort, where only guests can enjoy its elegant facilities, so is totally hawker[seller] free. In spite of its commercial success, most of the island remains untouched, with plenty of wildness and natural beauty just outside this sophisticated resort.
It is an all-year destination, but the best time to be there is Jan-May. Oct-Dec can be wet and grey.

Datai beach, Langkawi island [North-west]
The beaches on this well-developed island are regarded as some of the world's most secluded and picture-perfect hideaways by many travel specialists. Unfortunately most of the best coves are private, occupied by luxury resorts.
If you are independent, try Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, or the beautiful crescent of Datai beach. Langkawi has also exquisite snorkelling sites, especially at Palau Payar Marine Park where Malaysia's best coral reefs are. The best season is Nov-May, when the sky is clear and the humidity is low, but rainfall here on the west coast is lower than in the east, so most of the year is OK. The worst time is Sept-Nov.

Tioman island [South-east]
Tioman, one of the most spectacular islands in Malaysia is relatively unspoilt despite increasing development. It is a great destination for nature lovers, golfers and especially underwater enthusiasts due to close offshore reefs and crystal clear water. It has small golden sandy beaches backed by tropical jungle. One of the golfing hazards is monkeys stealing balls.
One of the best secluded, palm-fringed beaches is Tioman, the property of Berjaya Tioman Beach Resort.
Kampung Juara is the place for total serenity, but hard to get to - a 6 km, 2.5 hour trek from Kampung Telek, the island's main village.
Best March-Sept. Avoid going during the monsoon season Nov-Jan [possibly wet, grey, rough seas].

Long Beach, Kecil island, Perhentian Islands [North-east]
The Perhentian Islands are the must-go place in Malaysia for budget travelers. They have some of the world's most beautiful beaches and world class diving with plenty of cheap accommodation.
Go to the popular Long beach for action. Try Coral Bay [on Kecil island] or the other island - Besar - for smaller, tranquil beaches like Flora Bay.
Try to book accommodation well in advance if you go in the high season June-August. Best March-Sept, with best diving April-May. Avoid Nov-Jan [possibly wet, grey, rough seas].

Redang island, Redang archipelago [most of the islands are uninhabited] [ North-east]
Another perfect island exploited [in the nicest way] by a posh resorts - twelve at the last count. The usual powder white coral sand, crystal turquoise sea, blah blah.
What makes Redang a bit special is the superb underwater life in the surrounding marine park, making this is a premium target for scuba/snorkel addicts. Water temperature around 28C! Best [incl. diving] from March-Oct. 50 mins by boat.

Turtle Beach and Golden Beach, Similajau National Park, Sarawak [Borneo, i.e. far east of the mainland!]
This park consists of 30 km of golden sand and cliffs with tropical wildlife all around. It is well worth the hassle to get there for some of the finest beaches in Malaysia, jungle streams, waterfalls and 185 species of bird and plenty of animals - including gibbons, macaques, turtles, wild boars and crocs.
The park has chalets with an open-air café, hostels and a camping site near some good beaches, but the best ones, Turtle and Golden Beaches require a permit to enter and are a looong 8 km walk from the park office, or a hire a boat. No contest there!
Best time to go is April-September. Worst is during the big monsoons Oct-March. Temperatures range from 23C to 32C with high humidity.


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