Malaysia is overlooked as a beach destination.
With Thailand to the north and Indonesia to the south, Malaysia is sandwiched between two countries that use their beaches heavily in promotion.
Don’t let the stop you as the best beaches in Malaysia are epic.
The beaches you see here are scattered around Malaysia (map is at the bottom of the post).
1. Tanjung Rhu Public Beach – Langkawi
I’ve explored the majority of the beaches in Langkawi and was stoked to see the sunset at Tanjung Rhu Public Beach. Never have I ever seen so much pink/purple in the sky. It was so memorable and while I won’t be able to afford to stay at the hotels nearby anytime soon, the fact they’ve kept this a public beach is awesome.
You can also do some water activities around here such as sea kayaking and jet skiing.
Sold on Langkawi beaches already? Check out my post covering the best in Langkawi.
2. Tip of Borneo Beach – Borneo
If you aren’t driving to this beach, the trip here takes some time. You take the bus north as far as you can from Kota Kinabalu, before getting a taxi for the last stretch.
The Tip of Borneo beach is remote, with a handful of guesthouses and restaurants along the stretch of sand extending to the rocks that are the northern tip of the beach.
There are a few waves for surfers, but this is a spot where you want to chill out big time. The other highlight is the milky way, there is still some light pollution around but with Kota Kinabalu so far away it’s minimal.
See full details on how to get there.
3. Pasir Bogak – Pangkor Island
Pangkor Island is a hidden gem not too far from Kuala Lumpur. The island is small, easily navigated by bike in a day but there are a few beaches worth visiting. The most popular beach, Pasir Bogak is worth hanging out at in the afternoon.
There are lots of water activities available with the shape of the island creating a calm bay. The hour before sunset, the area comes alive for a few reasons:
- Hornbills comes to hang out
- Street food vendors start opening for the evening
- The sunset is prety awesome
These three ingredients make for the perfect way to finish the day of exploring Pangkor.
4. Pasir Panjang Beach – Redang Island
Unfortunately many of the Redang beaches are privately owned. Pasir Panjang offers something for everyone thanks to the nickname, ‘Long Beach’. The white sand is the longest beach in the area and given there are no coral reefs in the middle, you’ll find people playing volleyball when they’re not basking in the sun.
If you head to the end of the beach, you’ll find the famous Redang snorkeling with a few companies offering various adventures.
Bonus points: The sun sets over the ocean horizon here, letting you enjoy the beach until the end has really finished.
5. Juara Beach – Tioman Island
Tioman island has lots of awesome beaches, but if you have to choose one, let’s go with Juara Beach. Rather than the usual white sand you see in most places in Malaysia, you get golden sand here where you can work on your tan.
There’s plenty to do nearby for those who get itchy feet. A small hill can be hiked nearby, swim in the lagoon at the south end of the beach, restaurants galore and that’s without mentioning the snorkeling.
There’s also a turtle sanctuary nearby! When the season is right, you can see them just as they’re born! Incredible.
6. The One Beach – Rawa Island
Rawa Island is a small island one hour away from the mainland by ferry. Rawa island can be completed in a day trip, but the sunset is breathtaking. Do note, the island resort is top dollar so if you love sunsets, make sure you can afford the place first.
For the day trippers, the beach is pristine with the relative lack of consumerism on the island highlight by the bright blue waters. You’ll be feeling royal on this beach.
7. Cherating Beach – Pahang
Malaysia isn’t a popular surfing destination but you’ll find plenty of people partaking in the break during the monsoon season of November and December. The coastline nearby is filled with great surf beaches, some even holding international competitions attracting surfers for both the decent shore-break and beach-break.
Cherating is the most well developed of these beaches which won’t suit everyone, but there’s a reason it’s popular. There’s a variety of accommodation options, with a bungalow on the beach always hard to ignore.
8. Tanjung Aru Beach – Kota Kinabalu
The Tip of Borneo beach may have been remote, but this beach will allow you to get a real dose of the locals enjoying their day. Despite being only 6km from Kota Kinabalu, there are few tourists who come out to this beach. While there, you’ll be able to sample the freshest of seafood and sample the rest of the local cuisine from the food stalls.
9. Adam & Eve Beach – Perhentian Islands
Great name for a beach right? The Perhentian Islands are becoming popular. With some luck you might find yourself alone when arriving at Adam & Eve beach. You can take the jungle trail to get there, otherwise you’ll need to get a boat to drop you off. The trees along the beach are handy in that you’ll always have access to shade or you’ve got a long stretch of white sand to lounge around on in between snorkeling missions.
BONUS! 10. All The Beaches – Kapas Island
I had to update this post with a new favourite bunch of beaches. I spent six days camping on Kapas Island and the beaches here are amazing. There’s a handful of beaches separated by nice walkways and what makes it awesome is the lack of rubbish! Maybe I got lucky, but all tourists, local and foreign respect the beach and that shows by the lack of water activities in and around the beaches. The sand is beautifully white and soft with the ability to walk straight into the water and start snorkelling your heart out.
The Best Beaches In Malaysia On A Map
Malaysia doesn’t get the glory of the bordering Thailand but I’m sure you’re now convinced the Malaysia beaches can be as awesome. The theory is, you won’t see so many western tourists making the beaches ‘too touristy’, yet.
The best beach in Malaysia in my opinion? Tanjung Rhu!
How To Get Around Malaysia
Getting around both the Malaysian Peninsular and Malaysia Borneo by car is the best option if you want to get around to all of them in reasonably quick time.
Otherwise the bus system will be able to get you everywhere more or less. Ah, except for the likes of the North Tip of Borneo beach which requires a bus then taxi.