8 Islands in Malaysia You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Time to explore uncharted territories in our own country!

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8 Islands in Malaysia You’ve Probably Never Heard of
When we talk about islands or beach getaways, what normally comes to mind? Is it Maldives? Boracay? Bora Bora? Hawaii? Or perhaps somewhere closer like Bali? Well, what if we told you that you no longer have to travel across half the world to experience crystal clear waters and pure white sandy beaches? You can actually get the same experience (and save plenty of $$$) in the comfort of our country. “Are you sure or not, can we find a place like Maldives in Malaysia?” Well then, it’s time to pack your bags and put on your Dora the Explorer thinking cap on because we are going on an adventure to explore our homeland!


Image: Rebak Island Resort
Image: Vivanta by Taj Rebak Island Resort
Image: Vivanta by Taj Rebak Island Resort
Image: Vivanta by Taj Rebak Island Resort

Nice View Vivanta By Taj from langkawi Malaysia. #RebakIsland #4Day3Night #4thDay #LANGKAWI #vivantabytaj

A photo posted by Keemkiem (@keemkiem) on

This privately owned island is one of the 99 islands that make up the Langkawi archipelago. It’s only a short boat trip away from the mainland. The 390-acre island offers majestic scenery of the Straits of Malacca and unforgettable sunsets. For those going on a honeymoon, what better way to spend your trip than at an island resort nestled among lush green trees and sapphire blue waters. Just a head’s up though, there’s only one hotel at the island – Vivanta by Taj Rebak Island Resort.

Where: Langkawi, Kedah.

How to get there: It is advisable to take a direct flight to Langkawi. Upon arrival, take a cab to Langkasuka Jetty to board the boat heading for Rebak Island. The jetty is about 10 minutes away from the airport. The boat transfer ride on the other hand is approximately 5-10 minutes and is free of charge for hotel guests. 

Pros: If you’re keen on privacy and would love feeling like the Kardashians on a posh holiday at some fashion designer’s private island, then this is the place for it. It’s all about tropical relaxation.

Cons: Unless you enjoy basking in the sun and enjoying the view or going to spas, there’s nothing much you can do at the island. Sure, you can use their kayaks for free or plan a paid trip for snorkelling, but if you’re looking for some nightlife and shopping, you’d have to head back to the mainland. 


Image: Peter Wong Photography

Swimming with these beautiful creatures #lankayanisland

A photo posted by Lizzie Martin (@lizziemarts) on

Lankayan is situated in the Sulu Sea, northeast of Borneo, just 15km from Sandakan. This beautiful tropical coral resort is unpopulated and declared as a Marine Protected Area. You can expect clean, pristine beach with diverse sea and island wildlife all year round. The island is also popularly known for its whale shark sightings and turtle nestings.

Where: Sandakan, Sabah.

How to get there: You can either take a flight directly to Sandakan from Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu, as long as it is an early morning flight. From the Sandakan Airport, the resort transportation will pick you up and take you to the Sandakan Yacht Club which is 15 minutes away from the airport. You will then take a 1.5 hour boat ride via the resort’s boat from the yacht club. There is only one boat transfer every day which is at 10am from the yacht club and 7am from the island so be sure to plan your flights ahead.

Pros: Lankayan Island is every diver’s dream – swimming with turtles, whale sharks, fishes, sea horses amidst gorgeous coral reefs. If you’re not a fan of diving, you can also see a lot of fish swimming in shallow waters or even catch glimpses of a couple of green or hawksbill sea turtles nesting around the island. If safety is also your concern, don’t worry because a lot of army personnel are placed all over the island.

Cons: Since it’s near the Philippines border, there’s always the fear of being abducted by pirates. If you’re a person who cannot live without the Wi-Fi, there’s only Wi-Fi coverage at the common area – the restaurant and lounge.



The Bird Island #layanglayangisland #avillion #sabah

A photo posted by R.Y.D. Leona Dangi (@devera.leona) on


Layang-layang Island, seen from above..indeed it is a popular diving spot.. #pulaulayanglayang #sabah #spratly #diving

A photo posted by CuriosTraveller (@curiostraveller) on


Layang-Layang Island or also known as Swallow Reef is actually an atoll of the Spratly Islands. The ownership of this island has been disputed for decades and is also claimed by Chinese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese government. Layang-Layang isn’t like other tropical islands but it has amazing marine life and activities to offer. This intriguing island or known as The Jewel of The Borneo Banks among locals has immaculate corals and a myriad of marine life waiting to be discovered, making it a must-visit spot for scuba-diving enthusiasts. The Royal Malaysian Navy has a naval station on the island that’s still actively operating until today since 1983. The island was off-limits not until our government decided to turn it into a tourism spot in 1991.

Where: 300km of northwest of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

How to get there: Book a direct flight to Kota Kinabalu. When you arrive at the airport, you will need to purchase a return flight from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Layang-Layang Airport via a charted aircraft. You can charter the flight from Mas Wings or Layang-Layang Aerospace.  It is said that the flight tickets may cost more than RM1,200 per person.

Pros: Who wouldn’t want to stay on an island surrounded by a gigantic ring-shaped coral reef? Imagine all the amazing underwater creatures you’d see there. Now, that’s something you need to tick off your bucket list. Not only that, if anyone’s ever asked what would you do or bring on an isolated island (or atoll in this case), you will definitely be prepared with an answer.

Cons: Because it’s really far, the cost of going there and staying there is really high. There’s only one resort on the island which is Avillion Layang-Layang Resort. The cheapest package we found so far is for RM2,550 nett per person for 5D4N stay excluding return flights from Kota Kinabalu to Layang-Layang.


Image: Rawa Island Resorts
Image: Philippe Bayer

You're never too old for a little fun!

A photo posted by HotelQuickly (@hotelquickly) on


Missing #pulaurawa #rawaisland #islandlife #hiking #alangsrawa #nofilter #throwback #1step1footprint

A photo posted by Weijian2302 (@weijian2302) on


Rawa Island is situated within the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park and is also owned by the Johor Sultanate. This small, mesmerizing island has two equally beautiful sides to it; a rocky vertical cliff overlooking the South China Sea (which is inaccessible) and the other one is a picture-perfect beach covered in white, pristine sands. The waters are home to an abundance of corals and interesting sea life. Tourists who frequent this island are normally those who would like to take a break and unwind from the busy city life. Rawa Island is the ideal spot for families, couples or solo travellers.

Where: Mersing, Johor.

How to get there: If you are driving, find a safe and secured car park nearby the Mersing Jetty which charges RM8 per day. If you are travelling via public transport, you can take a direct flight to Johor Bahru (JB). From the airport, you can take a cab directly to the Mersing Jetty for about RM120 or catch the bus to Mersing from Larkin Bus Station in JB for about RM8 per way. To get to the island, there are two alternatives, either by boat or ferry. If you are going there via a ferry, take the ferry from the jetty en route to Tioman Island. The ferry will stop at Rawa and it will cost RM45 each way. If you are going by boat, the price will depend on the size of group you’re travelling with and it may cost you from RM35-RM45. The journey will take 1 hour via slow boat and 30 minutes via speed boat. If you are staying at Rawa Island Resort, your boat transfer will be taken care by the resort and is free of charge.

Pros: Rawa is a secluded island with azure blue waters with an awesome big, spiral slide near the beach that will bring out the 7-year-old kid in you. What better way to start your day by waking up to sound of waves and the smell of sea especially when your chalet is just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. If you’re planning to go snorkelling, prepare to be mind-blown by the clear waters and marine life consisting of fishes, squids, jellyfishes and octopus. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some Blacktip reef sharks!

Cons: If you’re a hardcore Instagrammer, be prepared for weak Internet connection or mobile coverage there. The food and basic necessities could also be a little pricier than usual.



My very first time and sangat wowww. #KapalaiIsland #Snokerling #FazlianaAzlizaOnVacay

A photo posted by Fazliana Azliza (@fazlianaazliza) on


If you’ve ever dreamed of staying on cerulean water chalets in Maldives, you can now turn it into a reality minus the long hours of travelling by just visiting Kapalai Island. Tourists who visit this island call it the ‘epitome of paradise’ – upon arriving you will be greeted with nothing but stunning views of the sea and corals which are visible from the chalet. Because of the erosion that’s taken place over the years, the island has now been reduced to only a sandbar located on the Ligitan Reef. There are no beaches but you can walk on the sandbar during the low tide. There’s only one resort at the island – Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort and the rest of the island is uninhibited.

Where: Tawau, Sabah.

How to get there: Take a direct flight to Tawau. From the airport, you will need to travel to Semporna Harbour by land. You can charter a taxi for approximately RM100 or take a bus/minivan which may cost less than that. The trip will take about 1.5 hours. Once you arrive at the harbour, take a speedboat that will bring you to the island. If you have made a reservation with the resort, they will handle your boat transfer for free. The journey to the island takes about 40 minutes.

Pros: A diver’s haven! There’s nothing more exciting than waking up and jumping into the ocean with your new marine ‘acquaintances’. You’re literally living the sea life – eat, sleep, swim, repeat. The island has received rave reviews from having crystal clear visibility while snorkelling to having fishes and sea turtles swimming around their chalets. Another perk is there are no mosquitos so you can sleep with the door open!

Cons: There’s no TV (who needs that when you have an amazing view!) and the Wi-Fi connection is really poor. If you’re someone who doesn’t really know or fancy diving/snorkelling it may be a little bit boring for you because there are no beaches unless you’re willing to wait for the low tide to walk on the sandbar. The accommodation may also be a tad too pricey, but for this once in a lifetime experience, we reckon it’s worth it.



#throwback #trip #pulaubesar #companytrip

A photo posted by Waddy Devas (@waddy_d) on



A photo posted by @betsybabyqin on


Perfect lazy day~ #beach #hammock #bluesky #sea #girlatthebeach #PulauBesar #Malaysia #Mersing #WanderingJan

A photo posted by January Sun (@january0901) on

Big Island or formally known as Babi Besar Island, is also one of the islands nearby Mersing. The original name got us all curious – was there a lot of pigs running around ruling the island at one point or was the name randomly given? We don’t really have the answer but what we do know is Big Island is a utopia of sun, powder-white sand and blue sea. Although the name suggests that the island may be really big, it ironically is really small in size, it’s only 4km long and 1km large. Regardless of its size, we’re sure this island promises its visitors an unforgettable island experience amidst lush green coconut trees and tropical jungles.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re planning to go to the right Pulau Besar, as there is another Pulau Besar in Malacca.

Where: Mersing, Johor.

How to get there: If you are driving, park at secured car park nearby the Mersing Jetty, which costs RM8 per day. If you are travelling via public transport, take a direct fight to Johor Bahru (JB). From the airport, take a cab directly to the Mersing Jetty for about RM120 or catch a bus to Mersing from Larkin Bus Station in JB for about RM8 per way. From the jetty, your resort will take care of your boat transfer, as it is usually included in your package. The boat transfer trip is at 12.30pm from the jetty to the island and 10.30am from the island to the jetty so plan your trip wisely. In the event that you can’t make it on time, you can charter a boat for approximately RM200. The boat ride takes up to 25 minutes only.

Pros: Not many people are aware of this beautiful island, compared to its neighbours – Sibu Island and Rawa Island, which makes it less crowded! The beach is the main attraction; it’s the ideal destination if you love sunbathing or lazing around at the beach. The waters will definitely meet your expectations, its pristine and clear, perfect for snorkelling trips. You can definitely expect a quiet and serene beach holiday.

Cons: Some of the resorts have bad reviews; so make sure you choose your accommodation wisely. You might also have to be prepared for some bug issues (mosquitos, ants, etc.) and salty tap water.


Image: Youtube

Bohey Dulang Adasındaki Bajau köyü. Yüksek dağlarla ve tropik bir ormanla kaplı adanın kıyısındaki mangrove ormanları ile kaplı kıyıların yanıbaşına, mercan resiflerinin hemen ardında denize kurmuşlar evlerini. Hemen herşey denizden sağlanıyor, evler arasında hep bir hareket var, giden gelen balıklar, kap kacak. #magmadergisi #bilmekisteyenyolaçıkar One of the Bajau villages in the Bohey Duland Island. The village is constructed just behind the coral reefs and neighboring a shore with full of mangroves, mountains and tropical forest of the island follow high beyond. Everything is supplied and transported over the sea. The traffic between the houses never stop, fish, dishes and etc. moves in between the water huts all day long.

A photo posted by Mert Gokalp (@mertgokalp) on


Bohey Dulang is one of the most popular islands in Tun Sakaran Marine Park; it has a sapphire blue lagoon that flooded over a crater that originally formed the island. This island is actually a mountainous island formed by the remnants of an ancient volcano. Not to worry though, there aren’t any active volcanoes left on the island. There will never be a dull moment on this island as you are spoilt for choices with activities. If you’re bored of snorkelling or scuba diving, you can wander off the hiking trails and reach the top of Bohey Dulang Peak (353m) to admiring the majestic scenery of the whole island.

Where: Semporna, Sabah.

How to get there: Book a direct flight to Tawau. From the airport, you will need to travel to Semporna Harbour by land. You can charter a taxi for approximately RM100 or take a bus/minivan which may cost less than that. The trip will take about 1.5 hours. Once you arrive at the harbour, you will need to hire a guide and charter a speedboat that will bring you to the island. The boat ride will take up to 35-45 minutes and will cost you approximately RM100, depending on the package you choose.

Pros: There’s plenty to do here! You can go on a hike, visit the Giant Clam and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery, go bird watching, visit the Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies) Village, and of course go snorkelling and scuba diving. Because it is a part of a marine park, the island is clean, pristine, and well taken cared of.

Cons: There’s no resorts or accommodations whatsoever, so you can’t stay overnight at this island and you need to stay at other neighbouring islands or at Semporna. Well, unless the sea gypsies are kind enough to let you sleep with them. If you plan to go on a hike, be prepared to see crowds of people at the top of the peak and it may get congested.


Image: Trip Advisor

2016년4월 #말레이시아 #pompom #pompomisland

A photo posted by 😄 (@vicky226688) on



A photo posted by Shannon Yuan (@shannonyuan) on


#cuticutimalaysia #exploresabah #semporna #pompomisland

A photo posted by SSJ (@sarashzn) on


Hi there! #snorkling #marinelife #seaturtle #pompomisland #malaysia #miniunginsemporna #8may2016

A photo posted by Pla Mor See (@plamorsee) on


Before we start, can we just say how cute is the name of the island?! Imagine telling someone you’re going to Pom Pom Island and they’ll ask you a few times just to be sure. This island is a coral reef island located in the Celebes Sea. This slice of heaven has a fringing coral reef of 4km long, which promises its visitors an exciting, diverse marine life underwater. Pom Pom Island Resort is the only accommodation available at the island. Unlike Kapalai Island, you can actually have a choice to stay on water chalets looking over nothing but the great, blue sea or by the beach. So divers and non-divers will equally enjoy this magnificent island.

Where: Semporna, Sabah.

How to get there: Similarly to Bohey Dulang, you need to take a direct flight to Tawau. At the airport, the resort representative will wait for you and take you to Semporna Jetty by coach. You can also arrange for your own transport to the jetty which may cost you more or less RM100, depending on the mode of transportation. Upon arrival at the jetty, the resort will take you to the island via speedboat. It takes 40-45 minutes to reach the island.

Pros: A peaceful, secluded island perfect for couples and families. Plenty of armed policemen are placed around the island to ensure the visitor’s safety. This stunning island has impeccable white sands and crystal clear waters which you can see a lot of marine life swimming around including sea turtles! Imagine taking a dip and swimming with them, how cool would that be? Pom Pom Island is definitely a must-visit island especially for divers.

Cons: The only resort at the island is a bit run down and may have limited food choice according to visitors. Security issues such as kidnappings may be a drawback for tourists although there are armed personnel all over the island.

So, which island are you dying to visit now? We’re already packing our bags and making plans to visit each island! If you have any more islands that we may not know of, please share your experience with us in the comments below.

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