The beach has a way of revitalising our souls, more so when they are tucked in hidden locations away from the tourist crowd. Plan your next island getaway with our top picks of hidden beaches in Malaysia.
Over 100 years ago, the eruption of several mud volcanoes formed the paradise known today as Pulau Tiga (Tiga Island), making the island well-known for its outdoor mud baths. Meaning ‘Island of Three’ in the Malay language, Pulau Tiga consists of three islands: Pulau Tiga as the main island, Pulau Kalampunian Besar (Sands Spit Island) and Pulau Kalampunian Damit (Snake Island). Its pristine beaches also made it the chosen filming location for season one of reality series Survivor, earning it the nickname ‘Survivor Island’.
Think white sandy beaches and luxury resorts, think Rawa Island. With only two luxury resorts for accommodation options, this destination exudes privacy and exclusivity; making it the perfect place to escape from the daily grind. Boasting a 100 percent coral cover, its shallow house reef makes it a favourite destination for entry-level diving and other water sport activities. Whether it’s snorkelling, exploring green surroundings or simply basking in the sun, Rawa Island has everything you need for the perfect beach holiday.
Located in the Sulu Sea, this small island is part of the Marine Protected Areas, an initiative by Malaysian authorities to expand the ecotourism industry. Home to a wide range of marine life such as whale sharks, rays, and green and hawksbill sea turtles, the island has become a sought-after destination for experienced divers. The crystal clear waters are so inviting, you’ll find yourself diving in from your resort patios. Expect a blanket of thick, tropical island vegetation, white sandy beaches, elegant accommodation options and a variety of activities available on the island such as scuba-diving, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and more to fill your days.
Located along a jungle trail from Penang National Park’s main entrance, you can either hike for two hours or take a boat to reach Kerachut Beach. Unlike the more popular Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah, beach, which are often flocked by tourists, Keracut Beach is nice and quiet with a soft, sandy coastline and sandstone rocks that border the forests. A treat for nature lovers, you can head to the Keracut Beach Turtle Conservation Centre to learn about Penang’s turtles, or you could continue your hike towards the meromictic lake called Teluk Kampi for more scenic sights.
Home to the legendary Sea Gypsies community (known as Bajau Lautin the local language), this island is tucked in the tropical marine waters of the Coral Triangle – an area between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines known as the Amazon of the Seas. Mabul island is part of the region recognised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the global centre of marine biodiversity for many reasons: its exotic marine life, gentle sloping reefs, and year-round diving opportunities. You can also expect clear night skies for your stargazing pleasure.
Pulau Kapas’s name is attributed to its soft, powder-white sandy beaches and clear blue waters (kapas means cotton in Malay). The island is a tiny beauty, totalling 2km by 1km in size. For the adventurous, take a dive about 30 minutes away from the shore and you’ll find an underwater Japanese shipwreck from World War II. Pulau Kapas is practically uninhabited, with only a handful of accommodation options that line the empty coastline. Snorkelling is a must-do on the island; coral reefs and other colourful marine life are pretty close to the shore so you don’t have to travel by boat at all. The absence of snorkelling boats shuttling groups of tourists also means your session goes pretty much uninterrupted—it doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Ask locals what Miri’s best kept open secret is, and you’ll hear stories of Tusan Island. Just a 30-minute drive from the Miri city centre, this beach serves as a quick and easy day trip for city folk. On your visit, don’t forget to capture the unusual rock-arc structure by the beach resembling a horse bending down to drink the sea water.
By Rachel Priya