MUST TRAVEL: Top 10 Island in Malaysia 

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As a traveller, I always start from the near by countries. My fellow Singaporeans if you have not travel to these island in Malaysia, you should plan your weekends from now. Simple take your Friday off and travel over the weekend, it will be the best short getaway you’ll experience. Let’s explore these island and start to line them up in our To-Go Travel bucket. 

#1 LAYANG LAYANG ISLAND 

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Layang Layang Island
is the ideal dive destination with warm crystal clear waters rich in both pelagic and macro diving. The ring of reefs form a calm lagoon within the center of the atoll but outside adventure looms. The coral walls plunge down to the sea floor 2000 metres below as barracuda, hawksbill turtles, manta rays, and tuna swim in the nearby open ocean. Rich in marine life the most sought after creature here is the hammerhead sharks which are found in abundance during the April-May mating season. If you’re not a diver, I still believe that their very romantic and beautiful atmosphere is worth a visit. Especially good for couples to have their honey-moon.

What to do:
Bird watching – A number of species of birds nest and visit the island such as Black-napped tern, Great crested tern, Sooty tern, Brown booby, Lesser frigatebird, Pacific golden plover, Plumed and Pacific-reef egrets and Ruddy tern. Also there are lots of Barn swallows and Yellow wagtails. During the right time of the year, this would present good observing and photography opportunities for the bird watching enthusiast.

Sun bathe – in between dives, there are deck chairs around the resort’s pool for a spot of sun bathing but remember the sun is strong and don’t get sun burnt.

Note that there are no entertainment facilities for children, i.e. no playground, no sandy beach, no special meals and no kids’ club activities.
Also note that there are no shops at the island so take everything you need with respect to personal items, medicines, reading material, etc.

#2 LANGKAWI ISLAND

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Langkawi isn’t just one big island, but a collection of around 100 islands that form an archipelago. While most are uninhabited, a few have been designated for tourism so that visitors from all over the world can admire and appreciate the magical beauty of Langkawi. There are many island tours available from operators to get you started. Note that most tours do not operate during the monsoon season from July to mid-September as the seas become choppy and potentially dangerous. They have this big Aquarium, probably one of the biggest in Asia that you should visit.

What to do:
Stardust Sailing Yacht, Combined mangrove and sailing yacht tour incorporating eagle watching, sting ray feeding, a traditional fish farm excursion and a mangrove speedboat safari for 1 hour plus a 6 hour sailing yacht cruise to the Langun Island Sand Spit Beach and incorporating the Pirate Lagoon as well as fishing, salt water jacuzzi, join in sailing, dolphin spotting, tunnel cave. RM325 for an adult includes a big buffet, beverages and hotel transfers.

Helicopter Joyrides, Pekan Baru, Kuah Town, See Langkawi from Aerial View at a very afforable price. A new excitement in Langkawi. as low as $150.

Jet Ski Island Tours or Jet Ski Safari, Breathtaking view touring the islands of Langkawi on a jet ski. You will be given a choice of three different tours. Private tours can be arranged. The tours take approximately 4 hours and leave at 9.00AM ending 1.00PM. They have pick up service and can depart from Pantai Cenang or Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort.

#3 PANGKOR ISLAND

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Pangkor Island,
 with its charming mix of fishing settlements and resorts, is a fascinating and convenient holiday destination. It presents the visitor with a rare chance to live near fishermen and observe their lifestyle and also to simply enjoy the fine beaches and resort amenities.

The fishermen live in scattered settlements on the eastern side, facing the town of Lumut and Teluk Batik. Visitors get a chance to see some of them on the 40-minute ferry ride from Lumut as the ferry stops at the main settlements of Sungai Pinang Kecil and Sungai Pinang Besar before landing at Pangkor Town.

What to do:
Motorbike tour – rent a motorbike (from RM25) and go around the island. The road is good, but on the north side of the island it is quite steep. You can visit the Dutch-Fort, south of Pangkor town, but there is not much of the fort left. Another very nice place is the temple north of Pangkor Town.

Bicycle tour – rent a bicycle (from RM8 per day) and cycle around the island. It takes about 5.5 hr at a leisurely pace. Some uphill and downhill roads are steep (20%). Make sure the brakes are working correctly before you rent the bike.(some of the hills are impossible to climb with bike, mainly the northern parts)

Hornbill feeding
 – Hand feeding the wild birds at 6:30PM everyday near Seagull Lodge.

#4 REDANG ISLAND

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Redang island
is one of the largest islands located off the east coast of Malaysia, Redang is favored for its beaches of powdery white sand and crystal clear blue waters. The surrounding coral reefs are home to a variety of species like nemo fish, baby sharks and jellyfish, making Redang a popular destination for diving and snorkeling. Visitors wishing to snorkel and dive here will find no lack of operations offering tours and equipment. While much of the island’s dense interior is impassable, there are several trails for jungle trekking.

What to do:
Snorkeling
 is the number one activity on Redang and rightly so as the coral reefs are quite spectacular. Many resort packages include snorkeling tours by boat to nearby islands, but there are some decent reefs right off Pasir Panjang. 

Beach volleyball and sea kayaks are allowed but jet skis and water skis are mercifully absent (banned to protect the coral). Fishing within the marine park is not permitted, but fishing boats can be hired for excursions beyond the 2-mile park limits.

#5 PERHENTIAN ISLAND

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Perhentian Island Archipelago, located 21km off the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia, in the state of Terengganu consists of 11 small islands with the largest being Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. All these islands and their surrounding waters have been identified and established as marine parks.

Perhentian Island with its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters is the perfect Island Vacation. Picturesque scenery, infinite shades of blue and turqoise, dazzling underwater coral gardens, makes Perhentian Island an excellent beach gateway.

What to do:
Snorkeling 
Most resorts and a few restaurants rent out snorkeling gear (typically RM10 a day for mask, snorkel and fins) and arrange snorkeling tours around the islands. Popular snorkeling spots on Besar include Teluk Pauh (to the left of the beach in front of the PI Resort), Shark Point and Tanjung Basi. The best place to see sharks (black tip) is in front of an extremely small “beach”, only accessible by boat

#6 TIOMAN ISLAND

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Tioman is the biggest and most impressive island at the east coast. There is a brisk jungle covers a ridge on the west section of the island, which ends at the idyllic location of a beautiful palm fringed beach. Tioman offers a wide range of activities for visitors: snorkeling in crystal clear water, discover the beautiful underwater world when you go diving, or just laze on the beach while you work on that tan. Also, there is a jungle on the island that is just begging to be explored. The dense forest is a habitat for many kinds of flora and fauna.

Tioman was discovered as a holiday destination quite some time ago. It was the setting for the supposedly mythical magical island of Bali Hai from the 1958 Hollywood movie ‘South Pacific’. In the 70s the Time magazine selected Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

Tioman is still rated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. It presents itself as a paradise island in the tropics. But sometimes you have to search for this paradise off the beaten track. 

What to do:
Snorkelling in 
Air Batang: The best village . At ABC (the far end of the beach) one can snorkel around the rocks towards panuba with a full reef full of colourful coral and fish. Its not too deep, making it perfect for snorkelling. In june2013 snorkeling around panuba offers a limited quantity of tropical fishes Even more colourful is the reef on either side of the jetty where one can see turtles and a vast garden of yellow coral.

Salang
: South of the Jetty the coral begins almost as soon as the water is deep enough to swim in, offering some great views of a variety of fish and even turtles to the less confident swimmer. Following the rocks further out and around the headland gives an even greater variety of marine life. It is also worth swimming out to the small Island just off the headland for the possibility of seeing black tip reef sharks.

#7 Mabul Island

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Mabul Island Located only about 15 minutes by speedboat from the famous Sipadan Island, Mabul Island has gained its own recognition as one of the best muck-diving (a term used to describe limited visibility dives at shallow sites with usually sandy bottoms) sites in the world.

Mabul Island is a small oval shaped island fringed by sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200-hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25–30m deep.

Mabul Island is also renowned for its amazing array of macrolife, making it an underwater photographer’s dream location to capture some of the rarest ecological species on film. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray eels are just some of the spectacular critters you will encounter beneath the waters of Mabul Island. Although all the excitement is underwater, you can always set your scuba gear aside for a day to laze on Mabul’s soft sand to work on your tan.

What to do:
Scuba diving – While its famous neighbour Sipadan is a home to large pelagic species, Mabul is the place to find the smaller macro species. Scorpionfishes, frogfishes, nudibranchs, crocodilefishes, various crustaceans and many other interesting and rare forms of marine life can be found here. Most dive sites are quite shallow – 12-18 m – with a maximum depth of around 30 m in a few places. Visibility is around 5-8 m at the real mucksites like Froggy Lair, Paradise Reef, and Seaventure Platform, reaching around 15 m at the seaward site Lobster Wall. Turtles can also be seen in places, although by far not as many as at Sipadan.

NOTE: Most of the dive shops, if not all of them, are operated by the home stay and resorts. They don’t like divers to live but dive with other operators. They may not allow you to dive with them if you’re not staying with them.

Snorkeling – A few sites close to shore are suitable for snorkeling, primarily around Paradise Reef as well as Lobster Wall.

#8 SIPANDAN ISLAND

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Sipadan Island is a tiny island is Malaysia’s only oceanic island, rising 700 metres from the ocean floor. The diversity of marine life here is apparent. There are many dive sites around the island which serve as home and transit points for a wide variety of marine life, including fish, turtles and sharks. It is no wonder that it continues to attract a growing number of underwater enthusiasts. Located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo, Sabah. 

Sipadan island formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop, for this Sipadan is one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.  Sipadan Island – Ranked as one of the top ten dive sites in the world.  

What to do:
Diving,
Sipadan claims to be the world’s best dive site. While this is a big claim, the diving here is certainly world class. Sipadan used to have resorts but to protect the environment these were closed around the year 2002. To dive on Sipadan you have to stay somewhere nearby, such as on Mabul, Kapalai or in Semporna, and take a boat onto the island.

Because Sipadan is now a protected site, only 120 divers are allowed daily (April 2013). It is only permissible to be on the island 08:00-15:00. As such, all dive operators will begin and end your dives around the island during this time frame.

Snorkelling, For non-divers, snorkelling is an option on Sipadan. From the beach the reef is easily accessible, and parts of the reef further out can be reached by boat. A wide variety and number of reef fishes, corals, and with a bit of luck, the sharks, barracuda and turtles can be seen without leaving the surface. Note that currents and boat traffic (especially if duck diving) are the major hazards in the offshore areas, and cryptically coloured stone fish may be a hazard in the shallows.

#9 KAPAS ISLAND

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Kapas Island is an ideal island paradise with white sandy beaches fringed with shady palm trees making it a perfect retreat. The first impression is its laid back yet rustic ambience calling for pure relaxation. It offers a “home away from home” amidst a typical Malay village concept and hospitality.

Kapas Island is a small island consisting of merely a few holiday resorts. It will take just a couple of hours to stroll along the beautiful beach from one end to the other end passing all the holiday resorts. The other side of the island is however, only accessible through a jungle – trekking trail. One could view a spectacular sunrise over a private beach there. 

What to do:
There is one diving company offering Open Water and Advanced certifications as well as fun dives around Kapas. For snorkeling, you can hire a boat to take you to different locations, but most of the best spots can be found within 100m of most of the beaches. Kapas is notorious for its relaxing atmosphere and beautiful beaches, so bring a good book and don’t expect much partying or loud music.

#10 RAWA ISLAND

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Rawa Island would be a rocky, inaccessible islet in the South China Sea if it were not for its idyllic beach. Steep jungle clad slopes embrace the sweep of powdery white beach from behind and land meets water in smooth ripples of soft sand and gently lapping waves. At the far edges of the palm-dotted beach, jagged rocks lay strewn in the sea at the bottom of straight cliffs.

Remote island paradise does not have to be so remote after all. The swaying palms, heavenly beach and island breezes of Rawa are within four hours of Singapore and less than 45 minutes from Mersing on the mainland of peninsular Malaysia. 

What to do:
Snorkeling
 just off the western beach. The resorts rent out snorkeling gear in case you don’t carry your own (Le Club Rawa provides snorkeling equipment and life jacket for free, however in limited quantity). There is a coral reef belt stretching all the way north to south parallel to the beach at a distance of about 20-30 m (66-100 ft) from shore. Although there are some dead coral, there are large areas of healthy hard coral growth, and a variety of tropical reef fish. However, corals are deteriotating and diminishing. Beware of jellyfishes

Swimming in the clear sea water.
Beach volleyball is available from both resorts, although it appears to be most popular at the Le Club resort.
Windsurfing at the Le Club resort.
Sailing a Hobie cat at the Rawa Safaris Resort.
Fishing tours can be arranged by the resorts.

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