North East Terengganu of East Coast Malaysia is sublime. Pristine white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters that would make Leo (di Caprio) rethink twice of filming The Beach in Thailand. Seriously unrivalled diving in the region, the two islands are dotted with rustic beach huts and has become the number one destination for beach lovers and backpackers around the world. The location is so amazing you’ll forgive for the lack of luxury hotels. Just suck it up and dive into paradise.
Another diving hot spot in Terengganu, that’s not far from Perhentian. One of the largest and most beautiful of the east coast islands, Redang is also the most developed. Redang Archipelago is made of 9 islands that together constitute a protected marine park. With crystal clear waters and some of Malaysia’s best coral reefs, the island offers excellent diving and snorkelling.
Made up of 99 islands, Langkawi (duty free island) has now been given geopark status by UNESCO. Langkawi is the easiest to access of all the islands (40 mins direct flights from KL) with gorgeous sandy beaches. Boasting some of the most luxurious hotels, such as Four Seasons, The Datai, Westin, The Andaman, Casa del Mar etc you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Pangkor Laut Island
It’s not the main Pangkor island I’d recommend but Pangkor Laut Resort – a top notch 5star luxury hotel alone on an island. Voted as best romantic hotel, best spa, best hotel in Malaysia – Pangkor Island Resort is the ideal romantic getaway. Book for the Spa Village Villa, on stilts in the middle of the ocean and you’ll forget easily the real world. Heaven.
The largest of Malaysia’s east coast islands, Tioman is famed for its soft, sandy beaches, warm waters and coral reef. Most of the resorts are strung out on isolated bays along the western coast. Diving and snorkelling is excellent but also jungle hiking and sunbathing. Best luxury hotel is Japamala resort – to simply die for!
Not far from Tioman, the privately owned island of Rawa is surrounded by sugary sands and transparent waters. There’s only one place to stay on the island but worth if you’re looking for the charming rustic feel.
Leaving the best til last, rated among the wold’s top 5 dive sites, Sipadan is fringed with white, sandy beaches. Surrounding the island is stunning coral reef teeming with over 3000 species of marine life and sightings of sharks, barracudas, turtles and manta rays are also common. Located in Sabah, Borneo in Malaysia – this is a true paradise delight.