The Best Underrated Beaches to Visit in Malaysia

Perhentian Kecil in Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Kecil in Perhentian Islands | © Giorgiomonteforti/WikiCommons
Lu Yin Wai

Malaysia is well-known for its beautiful beaches such as Tioman Island, Redang Island, and Batu Ferringhi beach, but there are beaches that are more secluded, if you’re hankering for a relaxing experience, with tranquil, scenic views. Here are the best underrated beaches to visit and relax on while you’re in Malaysia.

1. The Perhentian Islands


Crystal clear waters of the Perhentian islands | © Tuomas Lehtinen/Shutterstock
© Tuomas Lehtinen/Shutterstock

Perhentian Islands comprise of two islands: Perhentian Kecil (small island) and Perhentian Besar (big island). Relax by the beaches with crystal clear waters and enjoy the beach activities at Long Beach and Coral Bay at Perhentian Kecil. Take a boat from Kuala Besut with a return ticket (RM70). You also have to pay the “Marine Park Conservation Charge” (RM30 for foreigners and RM5 for locals).

Why not go scuba diving to explore the aquatic wonders including coral reefs, fish, turtles, and sharks? Relax on the sandy beaches and soak up with the sun while you enjoy the scenery and have fun with the little turtles at Turtle Beach in Perhentian Besar.

Perhentian Islands, Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu, Malaysia

Crystal clear waters of the Perhentian islands | © Tuomas Lehtinen/Shutterstock

2. Gaya Island

Uncrowded spots that line Gaya island | © Buzov Evgeny/Shutterstock
© Buzov Evgeny/Shutterstock

Gaya Island is 10 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu by boat. Spend some time on the semi-private beaches. where you can explore the colourful sea life by snorkelling in the clear waters. You will be able to see variety of sea creatures, from sea snakes to clownfish. Drop by the turtle conservation to see how well the turtles are looked after. You can then go hiking through the rainforest to discover the luscious foliage and jungle animals. Don’t leave your items around for too long though, as the curious monkeys will drop by!

Gaya Island, Pulau Gaya, Sabah, Malaysia

Uncrowded spots that line Gaya island | © Buzov Evgeny/Shutterstock

Kerachut Beach

Kerachut Beach is one of the more secluded beaches in Penang. You need to take a two-hour hike through the Penang National Park to get there, or you can hire a boat near the entrance of Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang. You will spot a meromictic lake which has two layers of salt and fresh water that are mixed together.

Visit the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Centre to learn more about how the turtles are nurtured, and how their eggs are hatched before they are returned to the sea.

Teluk Bahang, Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia

Kerachut beach jetty at sunset

Monkey Beach

Similar to Kerachut Beach, you can either hike through or take a boat from Penang National Park to visit the scenic Monkey Beach. You will see some long-tailed macaques that give this beach its name, hanging around looking out for food. There are cafes if you’re hungry, and you can also have a picnic or camp overnight at Monkey Beach.

Jalan Hassan Abas, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Fishing boats anchored at Monkey beach

3. Pasir Tengkorak Beach


Pasir Tengkorak in Langkawi | © Authentic Travel/Shutterstock
© Authentic Travel/Shutterstock

Located at the northwest of Langkawi Island, Pasir Tengkorak Beach (Sandy Skulls Beach) is a tranquil beach guarded by rocky walls at both ends. The rocky walls are in Machinchang Formation due to the effects of nature (a combination of algae, sandstone and shale). After you walk through the forested park, you will be welcomed by the beach with clear blue sky and calming waters. This is a wonderful place to soak up the sun and enjoy swimming in the calm waters.

Pasir Tengkorak beach, Jalan Datai, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

Pasir Tengkorak in Langkawi | © Authentic Travel/Shutterstock

4. Kapas Island

Local surveys the crystal clear water at Kapas island | © Izz Hazel
© Izz Hazel

Head for Kapas Island to enjoy its serene surrounding with crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. Travel down to Kuala Terengganu, then take a public bus or taxi to Marang Jetty for the 20-minute boat ride to Kapas Island.

A great place for snorkelling and scuba-diving, you can make friends with the various species (fishes, turtles, corals, and sharks) in clear waters or take a stroll along the beach, from one end to the other, while admiring the island’s natural beauty. Join in one of the popular games of volleyball on the beach and go for a hike in the jungle. Or you could just relax in a hammock and get lost in a good book.

Kapas Island, Pulau Kapas, Terengganu, Malaysia

Local surveys the crystal clear water at Kapas island | © Izz Hazel

5. Rawa Island

Pristine white sand of Rawa island | © jamesteohart/Shutterstock
© jamesteohart/Shutterstock

Pulau Rawa (Rawa Island) is a coral island in Johor. You will be amazed by its sandy beaches and turquoise waters, ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. Take a boat from Mersing Jetty and while waiting, try some local foods and browse the stalls for beach holiday necessities. You could rent a canoe and go kayaking to explore the island or just kick back on the beach with some cool drinks, fun activities to enjoy, and party all night at the beach shack.

Pulau Rawa, Johor, Malaysia

Pristine white sand of Rawa island | © jamesteohart/Shutterstock

6. Damai Beach


Picturesque rock formations on Damai beach | © alphonsusjimos/Shutterstock
© alphonsusjimos/Shutterstock

An hour’s drive from Kuching and you will be welcomed by the sea breeze and scenic views of Damai Beach. Stop by the Damai Central which has everything you need: convenience stores, restaurants, bars, food stalls, and toilets. Learn about the Sarawak’s culture by visiting the Sarawak Cultural Village (10 minutes’ walk from the beach), home to the annual Rainforest World Music Festival. Don’t forget to watch the sunset views at the beach in the evenings. Hop on the Irrawaddy Dolphin Cruise to discover the Irrawaddy dolphins, a local fishing village, and exotic mangrove along the Santubong and Salak rivers.

Damai Beach, 93010 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Picturesque rock formations on Damai beach | © alphonsusjimos/Shutterstock

7. Tanjung Aru Beach

Sunset reflections at Tanjung Aru beach | © greenpop/Shutterstock

Tanjung Aru Beach is known for one of the most beautiful beach-view sunsets in Malaysia. The tangerine sunset seeping through the skies along with the calm seas simply takes your breath away. There are plenty of things to do before you catch the sunset in the evening: play volleyball, take part in water sports, search for seashells, have a swim or go snorkelling. To get to the beach, hop on the number 16 bus from City Hall or Wawasan Plaza in Kota Kinabalu.

Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, +60 16 833 0678

Sunset reflections at Tanjung Aru beach | © greenpop/Shutterstock

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