The lesser-known beaches of Malaysia
By Mila Gilmanova
A TROPICAL holiday is not complete without sandy beaches, the deep blue sea and palm trees. Sun, sea and sand – these are some of the simple components of a great holiday.
Malaysia is famous for its beaches and most of them are known all over the world: Pulau Tioman, (Pahang), Pulau Langkawi, Turtle Beach and Golden Beach in Similajau National Park … These places are visited by thousands of tourists every year. However, for those who want to get off the beaten track there are some excellent lesser-known beaches in Malaysia – most of which are to be found on the Malay Peninsula and the islands nearby. These destinations have a number of advantages: lower prices, less people, untouched nature and countless small beaches that you can almost call your own.
In Terengganu state the Perhentian Islands invite visitors to a real beach paradise. The islands are called Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian). This is a protected area so fishing and collecting coral are prohibited. However, the snorkelling and diving is amazing. There are many great spots for diving and canoeing, and banana boat riding is also available. Also, the beaches have all the facilities: sun shelters, bar and cafes with fresh juice, fish and meat barbeques and very friendly staff.
Pangkor island has beaches with nice white sand, coral reefs, and many amazing places for diving and snorkeling. The island is within an easy drive from Kuala Lumpur and has great accommodation options. Here you can find big hotels and kelongs; the choice is up to you. If you feel bored of the beach, then you can go sightseeing to the Dutch fort, visit some fishing villages, Fu Lin Kong Temple, Kali Amman Temple, Pangkor Town or even the neighboring island of Redang, which is famous among divers for its coral reef. Getting here is easy by ferry, which is RM5 per person and departs hourly.
Pantai Cahaya Bulan, Pantai Bisikan Bayu, Pantai Tok in Kelantan provides great opportunities to discover the local Malaysian culture. Pantai Cahaya Bulan (Moonlight Beach) stretches about 1.2km and is very popular with locals on weekends. Tok Bali is surrounded by azure waters where you can see illuminated fishermen’s boats at night, while Bisikan Bayu has giant trees which look like they are something out of a fairytale. The coastline of the country is undeveloped and the visitors can find a number of wild idyllic beaches here. In the national park of Taman Negara one can see the oldest rainforest on the Earth. Kelantan is famous for its handicrafts, such as kite making, batik, silverware, songket (silk cloth woven with gold or silver threads) and woodcarving. It’s a good spot for shopping and relaxation.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park also offers some amazing beaches. The park is home to islands like Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. Getting here from the city Kota Kinabalu takes just 15-20 minutes by boat. All five islands have shallow waters, amazing white sandy beaches and coral gardens with a great variety of marine life. The biggest island Pulau Gaya is covered by dense jungle forest where the locals live in houses built along the coastline. Visitors of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park have a chance to imagine how the first Europeans felt in the rainforests of Malaysia while hiking on 20km long tracks. At the same time the island has modern facilities and good accommodation. The beach located in Police Bay is the best on the island. It’s a 400m long line of fine white sand with shallow crystal sea that is perfect for swimming.
The best time to visit Malaysia is April to September, as there are monsoon rains from November to March on the east coast and from September to December on the west coast. Don’t forget your sun block, even a few minutes in the tropical sun can cause whiter skin to burn. Above all, be friendly and polite. Good manners and respect for local culture will ensure you are treated kindly in return.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website
About the author…
Mila Gilmanova (Russia)
Mila Gilmanova is an artist, blogger, interpreter and traveler. Her interests are the history of art, photography and hiking. Mila is travelling with her friend from Greece to Australia, or maybe even further, trying to find a new lifestyle and escape the urban routine. She loves meeting people and collecting road stories from travelers. Mila maintains two blogs in Russian – http://turbina.ru/authors/milkomann/ and http://milk-gilmanoff.livejournal.com/ and one in English – http://onwayaway.blogspot.com/