GBA Lifestyle News
Travel Outside HK Section
By The Loop HK Contributor | March 20th, 2016
  • Beach Vacation, Romantic Getaway
  • Asia, Malaysia, Singapore

By Poppy Mason-Watts 

Malaysia is one of Asia’s most untapped travel destinations full of paradisiacal beaches, consistently warm weather and amazing food. Whether you’re gearing up for your own Robinson Crusoe experience or prefer to stay on the beaten path, Malaysia has an island destination for all types. Here are a few tips as you plan out your next seaside escape.

Langkawi sunset. Photo: i.gunawan/Flickr CC
Prepare for incredible Langkawi sunsets. Photo: i.gunawan/Flickr CC

Best for… Groups: Rawa Island

Think white sands, crystal blue waters, pastel blue-and-white beach huts and even an adorable island dog. This is the ultimate destination for larger groups of 20- and 30-somethings looking for a cheap and easy getaway.

What’s more, if there are enough of you (read: 30 people), you can take over the whole Alangs Rawa hotel and essentially have the entire island to yourselves. The rooms are basic but include breakfast, lunch and dinner and the cocktails are tres alcoholic.

Rawa Island, Malaysia. Photo: Phalinn Ooi/Flickr CC
Find a spot of sand on Rawa Island. Photo: Phalinn Ooi/Flickr CC

Down numerous jugs of the Rawa Special, dine on fresh seafood and dance the night away at the bar. Spend the day playing attempting beach Olympics or recovering in the sun – what more could you want?

Best time to go: March–October

How to get there: Fly to Singapore on a Friday morning and get the Rawa bus pick up straight to Mersing jetty. A quick 20-minute boat ride and voila – you’re on island time.

Rawa Island Malaysia. Photo: Phalinn Ooi/ Flickr CC
Rawa Island is just showing off. Photo: Phalinn Ooi/ Flickr CC

Best for… Adventure: Langkawi

One of the larger Malaysian islands, Langkawi is home to an abundance of natural scenery and wildlife. It’s an ideal getaway for those looking to do a bit of exploring rather than just lazing around on the beach. You can plan on an itinerary chock-full of adrenaline — think jungle canopy ziplines, skyridges, cycling, and air trekking.

And when you’re not zipping through the jungle? Hang at the Datai Hotel, where you can spend your days lounging by the pool, topping up on your tan at a nearby tropical beach or chilling out at one of the island’s many reggae bars.

Best time to go: November–April

How to get there: Fly to Kuala Lumpur or Penang, and it’s a short domestic flight from there.

Langkawi snorkeling. Photo: andresmh/Flickr CC
So many fish in the sea. Photo: andresmh/Flickr CC

Best for… Diving: Sipadan Island

Often rated the best dive site in the world, Sipadan is located smack in the middle the most bio-diverse marine habitat on Earth. To protect the island’s fragile eco-system, expect to encounter several restrictions: there are no hotels or resorts on the island, no night dives allowed, only 120 divers allowed each day — oh, and you need an entry visa. You also need to be an advanced diver. Not too tough then!

If you can navigate your way around all the restrictions, you are in for a treat: divers will see whale sharks, sea turtles, manta and eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks, barracuda and forests of coral. As far as overnight stays, book yourself into the Sipadan Kapalai Dive Centre or Mabul Water Bungalows.

Looking for something more laidback? While Sipadan is undoubtedly the best diving in Malaysia, you could also check out Tioman or Perhentian islands for more chilled diving experiences.

Best time to go: March–October

How to get there: Fly to Kota Kinabalu and then head to Tawau and on to Semporna.

Sipidan Island, Malaysia. Photo: Sipidan Benjamin Hollis/Flickr CC
Sipidan Island welcomes you. Photo: Sipidan Benjamin Hollis/Flickr CC

Best for… Couples: Batu Batu

Ideal for all the romantics out there, this little slice of heaven boasts eight distinct beaches, each with perfect white sand and turquoise waters. With a mere 20 villas, each decorated in a rustic but luxurious style, Batu Batu is all about optimum privacy, first-class service, and amazing food.

Best time to go: March–October

How to get there: Fly to Singapore on a Friday morning and jump in the taxi arranged by the island for you straight to Mersing jetty. A quick 10-minute boat ride and you’re in the lap of luxury.