Sunset at Langkawi © Indra Gunawan
Malaysia offers visitors a host of tropical islands that are rated as some of the most beautiful in the world. Sun chasers can expect a palm trees, clear waters, white sandy beaches and an underwater heaven for scuba divers.

Regarding options, the Langkawi archipelago has become an internationally renowned resort destination, irresistible for its ancient lakes and forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and wonderful beaches. Lovely coastlines and crystal clear seas surround the Perhentian Islands, where divers can marvel at wonderful coral gardens and a vast array of marine life. Off the east coast, the most impressive island is Tioman, which offers a wide variety of activities on and off the water, and a holiday suited to those tired of commercialised resorts. Sipadan Island may be the world's best scuba diving site, and features on any dive enthusiast's bucket list. Many islands are also covered in dense tropical forests, which are a must for hikers.


The Langkawi Skybridge
The Langkawi Skybridge © Dylan Walters


Langkawi is the collective name for a group of 99 tropical islands located 20 miles (30km) off the northwestern tip of the peninsula. Pulau Langkawi is the largest and most developed of them. Much of the island's prolific development has been focused in the town of Kuah, which is the embarkation point for visitors travelling by ferry. Pulau's appeal flows from its hot springs, waterfalls, pristine beaches, limestone outcrops and stunning mountainous interiors. Visitors will also find plenty of shops and modern amenities. Langkawi is easily accessible by air or boat, though ferry crossings may cease during the monsoon season.

Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands © Jpatokal

Perhentian Islands

Two islands make up the popular holiday destination, which for all intents and purposes is a backpacker's paradise. Fisherman double as tour guides, and simple beach bars spill out onto the pristine shore. Travellers have the option of securing more high-end accommodation if they want, though the islands are an iconic stop on the budget traveller's itinerary. Regarding activities, the largely undeveloped region is located within the Terengganu Marine Park, where divers and snorkelers can enjoy clean water and gorgeous coral reefs. Visitors can reach the islands via taxi boats from the town of Kuala Besut. They should also note that the east-coast monsoon often makes the islands inaccessible between November and January.

Sunset on Pulau Pangkor Island
Sunset on Pulau Pangkor Island © Gryffindor

Pulau Pangkor

Pangkor Island was once a hideout for pirates, and where the Dutch choose to construct a fort to assert their trade dominance in the region. The Dutch weren't in charge for long though, as local leaders allied with the British to force them out. Today, the mountainous island welcomes a healthy stream of visitors to its beautiful beaches. Eco-tourism is another drawcard, given the destination's gorgeous scenery and impressive variety of wildlife. The tourist infrastructure is good too, meaning holidaymakers will find various accommodation options, and lots to keep them entertained. Anyone looking to dive into some island history can enjoy attractions such as the ancient Fu Ling Kong Temple, the Dutch Fort and a granite boulder called, Tiger Rock, which bears etchings of a tiger on its surface. Travellers can also visit tombs and trek up Tortoise Hill.

Tioman Island
Tioman Island © Ferrazo


This picturesque, ecologically rich island is home to dense jungles, which flourish around mountains. Clear waters lap its pristine beaches, revealing luminous coral reefs and a stunning marine population. Visitors will find a handful of villages along the coast, and virgin forest farther inland. Divers and snorkelers can hire equipment. June to August is high-season, while the island is almost deserted over the monsoon period, which runs from November to January. The journey there takes about two hours by boat from the coastal town of Mersing. Alternatively, travellers could choose the high-speed catamaran service that operates between Singapore and Tioman. It takes more or less four and a half hours.