Malaysia has always lured travellers with its beachfront resorts and natural wonders around Sabah, Penang and Langkawi.
However, it’s the islands off the coast of Terengganu that have become Asia’s newest and hottest tourist destination. This spectacular group of pristine islands and marine parks offers equal measures of luxury relaxation and soft adventure if you want it including jungle trekking, canoeing, snorkelling and diving around the South China Sea.
1. Redang Island
Redang is the largest of nine islands in the Redang archipelago, all protected as part of the Palau Redang Marine Park. Located 45 kilometres off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, Redang Island boasts white sandy beaches and glassy water perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Abundant with colourful coral and tropical fish, you’ll also discover two WWII underwater shipwrecks.
Redang is known for its upscale accommodation such as The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort, which is nestled on a secluded bay and offers luxurious ocean-front villas.
2. Kapas Island
Located six kilometres from Marang (south of Terengganu), Kapas is an opulent island getaway with 5-star resorts and fine-dining restaurants. However, you can also find budget-friendly beachfront campgrounds and chalets. Splurge on a room at Kapas Turtle Valley, a resort with its own beachfront.
Day trips to the nearby Gem Island yield two more tranquil beaches and an opportunity to swim with sharks.
3. Lang Tengah
Home to vibrant coral reefs and rich marine life, Lang Tengah is a dream destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. It’s possible to see sharks and rays, along with green turtles during their nesting season (April-October).
Lang Tengah’s quieter atmosphere extends to its four exclusive resorts. The brand-new Summer Bay Lang Tengah Resort exudes a laid-back style with its central swimming pool, Asian-fusion restaurant and alfresco Sunset Bar.
4. Tenggol Island
Another of Malaysia’s top diving areas, Tenggol Island boasts 20 dive sites, some of which have shipwrecks, Whale sharks and other unique underwater life. Tenggol Island has maintained its pristine natural appeal despite the emergence of resorts such as Tenggol Island Beach Resort. That’s because these resorts house you in eco-friendly wooden cabanas and are only accessible via boat with no roads across the island.
5. Perhentian Islands
This archipelago includes two main islands – Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil – along with five small uninhabited islands with dreamy beaches and dive reefs. Life on the main islands is spent one of lazy days lounging on coral beaches, swimming in turquoise ocean and snorkelling among sea turtles, clownfish, blue spotted rays and other marine life.
There’s a range of budget and five-star accommodation on both islands, along with family-friendly activities such as canoeing, fishing, banana boat rides and hiking.
Flying: You can fly daily with Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly and Malindo Air from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu, landing at Sultan Mahmud Airport. From there, it’s an easy cab or shuttle bus ride to the jetty for ferries across to the islands.
On Land: There are bus and taxi services from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and Marang, which takes about six hours. Ferries regularly depart the jetties at Terengganu and Marang for Redang, Kapas and other islands.
Published under license from Well Travelled.