If sun, sand, sea and serenity is what you’re eyeing after being travel-starved, read on for the scoop on the best secret beaches in Malaysia
The coasts of Malaysia are fringed by stretches of breathtaking beaches, many of which remain under the tourist radar. Loved by locals, these tropical idylls are don’t get as much recognition – or as commercialised – as some of the country’s more well-trodden coastlines like Langkawi’s Pantai Cenang or Penang’s Batu Feringghi. However, we might argue that’s precisely where its charm lies.
In Penang, an hour’s hike through the lush tropical foliage will lead you to the wonderfully remote Teluk Kampi beach. With no phone connection and the possibility of having the beach all to yourself, it’s a haven for anyone looking to go off-grid. Meanwhile, in Sarawak, sunset chasers will love the striking Tusan Beach, which is lined with rock outcrops and promise dramatic golden hour views from its clifftop.
If sun, sand, sea and serenity are what you’re eyeing after being travel-starved all this time, here, in no particular order, we’ve rounded up the best secret beaches in Malaysia.
1. Tusan Beach, Miri
Famous among the locals for its amazing sunsets, this narrow white sand beach is only an hour’s drive away from Miri. In 2015, photos of a “blue tears” sighting (a phenomenon where bioluminescent plankton glow in a brilliant shade of blue) on the beach went viral, thrusting the previously quiet strip into the limelight.
Noteworthy attractions here include the “Drinking Horse” cliff (so-called because the rock formation resembles that of a horse drinking water) and a handful of small caves scattered across the coastline. Head to the clifftop for the best views of the dramatic sunset. There aren’t any food stalls on the strip, so bring along a picnic or get your fill at the seafood market and food stalls in the town of Bekenu. Tip: Swing by on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd.
2. Lang Tengah Island, Terengganu
With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Lang Tengah Island is sometimes nicknamed the “Maldives of Malaysia”. Located between Pulau Perhentian Besar and Redang, the island remains one of Terengganu’s more underrated spots. There are only four resorts islandwide, all of which come with their own private beaches, so rest assured that they’re quiet and crowd-free. Water sports enthusiasts will appreciate the slew of activities here – there are three snorkelling locations and eight scuba-diving spots – while outdoorsy types will enjoy its hiking trails and bioluminescent beach.
3. Teluk Kampi Beach, Penang
Teluk Kampi is perfect for anyone looking to escape the bustle of the city. Of all the beaches in Penang National Park, it is by far the most remote. Getting here requires either an hour-long hike or a boat ride. But once you do arrive, you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal vistas and the luxury of having the whole beach to yourself. Feast your eyes on the lovely stretch of beach that fringes around the curving bay. You can spend the night here at its well-maintained campsite; there is no phone connection here, so it’s ideal for anyone looking to go off-the-grid, even for a bit.
4. Pasir Tengkorak Beach, Langkawi
Pantai Cenang remains Langkawi’s most popular beach, lined with restaurants, bars and shops. A quieter alternative, Pantai Tengah, is just a few hundred metres away, where the surf is a little stronger especially at the advent of the southwest monsoon. But for some sun, sea and serenity, make a beeline for Langkawi’s hidden gem beach, local Pantai Pasir Tengkorak – a small, protected beach to the north of the island, where monkeys still rule (so hang on to your belongings!). Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are musts when out and about.
5. Teluk Chempedak, Kuantan
Famously known for its white sandy beach, its well-established promenade, Teluk Chempedak in Pahang quintessentially delivers a perfect beach getaway for locals and tourists alike. Located just five kilometres away from capital Kuantan, the stretch of beach has been a favourite haunt for residents in Pahang. For out of towners, especially KL city folk, Teluk Chempedak offers an ideal weekend getaway and a welcome reprieve from city life.
6. Coral Beach, Pangkor
Beachgoers travelling to Malaysia often skip Pangkor, an island two hours away from Ipoh. This laidback and picturesque island is known for beaches like Coral Bay. Located just north of the more crowded Nipah Bay and separated by a small forested cape, its emerald-green waters are perfect for a host of water sports like canoeing, kayaking and snorkeling. There are far fewer food stalls (and hence crowds) here, which makes it ideal for a quiet escape. Park yourself at one of its waterfront restaurants down at sunset to catch some beautiful golden hour rays.
7. Pasir Panjang Beach, Penang
Formerly a small fishing settlement, this palm-fringed stretch promises everything you’d want from a beachside es ape: far from crowds, swaying palms, pristine white sands and beautiful sunsets. Roughly 12km southwest of Balik Pulau, it’s no doubt one of Penang’s most picturesque spots. The swift currents mean that caution is advised while swimming,