Sand Between Your Toes: Malaysia and Its Beaches
Where do you escape to when the world gets just a little too loud, a little too heavy? Do silent places exist? Can you find them?
The ‘inner peace’ so often packaged and sold to us is a bit like a froopy frappuccino from your local coffee shop. It arrives in disposable containers, too sweet to enjoy, too visual to ignore. You drink it in anyway, because that’s what you’ve got. It’s not real coffee–but, you know, it’s what’s in your hand.
Real calmness is a subjective thing, but lying in the sand with a book and the sound of waves softly crashing against the beach, your half-asleep snore interrupted only by seagulls flying overhead. That feeling? That’s pretty darn close to what true tranquility can be.
Malaysia in the South China Sea, is often overshadowed in popularity by its neighbour Thailand. But the country has a lot to offer, and if what you’re seeking is uninterrupted beachy bliss, you’ve finally found it.
Malaysia consists of two separate geographical units. Its national borders include the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, with a smattering of small islands in between. It’s home to people of diverse ethnicities and cultures, and boasts one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia. It’s also home to some of the loveliest beaches you’ll ever see.
When To Visit–
Malaysia has two peak seasons, December and January, and June to mid-September, when tourist numbers will rise, bringing prices up with them. To enjoy the beaches, avoid visiting in the monsoons, as the seas will become too harsh for watersports. There are two rainy seasons as well. The east coast experiences it from November to March, and the west coast from April to May, and October through November.
Malaysia’s Many Beaches:
1. Teluk Kemang
This is probably one of the most popular beaches in Port Dickson, a favourite haunt for tourists and locals alike. You’ll find no shortage of decent accommodation and a wide selection of restaurants. It’s a great spot if you want the classic beach experience, with souvenir stalls, water sports, and hawkers’ zones.
2. Desaru Beach
Frequented by Singaporean tourists for its proximity to that country, Desaru is a 6km long beach that is ideal for people with families. This is because it has shallow waters with no threat of jellyfish.
3. Saujana Beach
Not only is this a good destination for couples on their honeymoon, but it’s also the place to go to if you enjoy camping. Saujana’s sand is powdery soft, and the ocean current is relatively calm. There are also plenty of shacks, restaurants, and hotels near by.
4. Long Beach
You’ll find Pasir Panjang Beach–or Long Beach–on Redang island in Malaysia. With its crystal blue waters and endless white sand, this is a great beach to unwind with a book and a sun umbrella. You can snorkel and play volleyball. Of course, don’t forget to carry your eco-friendly sunscreen, to protect from the rays and also prevent damage to the beach’s flawless ecosystem.
5. Juara Beach, Tioman Island
Tioman Island is known for its gorgeous and relatively secluded beaches. Juara Beach, which is home to the Juara Turtle Project, is a stunningly peaceful beach. It is flanked by a village. Budget accommodation is easily found here, although you won’t be able to reach Juara by ferry, so you’ll be depending on 4WDtaxis to get here.
Also on Tioman island, Tektek was ranked one of the 50 Best Beaches in the World by The Guardian. The Tektek town infrastructure consists of an airport, a marina, and a jetty, and also has plenty of shops and budget hotels. The beach is also an ideal place to snorkel.
7. Pantai Pasir Tengkorak
This secluded, tranquil beach is Sandy Skull Beach thanks to morbid local legends of sailors who washed up on the shore, killed either by a storm or a sea monster. True or not, today, this beach is perfect for sunbathing and enjoying all sorts of activities like camping and trekking. The brilliant blue waters are ideal for a swim too.
8. Mamutik Island Beach
Escape the crowds in Mamutik Island, one of the 5 islands making up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Mamutik is the smallest island in the park, but has perhaps the nicest beach. Here, you can enjoy some of the most loved beach activities, including snorkeling and scuba diving.
9. Tanjung Aru Beach
Here’s where you go to witness beautiful red sunsets spilling into endless seawater. Tanjung Aru Beach gets its name from the trees that grow here — “Aru”– or casuarinas. Facilities include the Kinbalu Golf Club and the Kinbalu Yatch Club.
10. Labuan Island
South of Sabah’s state capital Kota Kinbalu, Labuan Island is best known as an offshore financial centre, and Islamic financial hub. However, it also offers a host of tourist attractions including museums, a bird park, and memorials. Labuan Island is also fantastic if you enjoy water activities. You can sunbathe at the beach, fish, and go wreck diving and snorkelling.
11. Pulau Tiga
Pulau Tiga is famous for being a location in the show Survivor. This is a great beach for a day trip. Survivor Island, as it’s now called, is a great place to visit on a day trip or a longer stay, with clear blue water and a verdant forest.
12. Morib Beach
Because it’s closest to Kuala Lampur, Morib Beach tends to get very crowded, especially on the weekends. Perhaps not the most attractive beach, it is nevertheless a nice escape from the hectic city. Keep an eye out for crabs.
13. Cenang Beach
A luxury beach in Langkawi, Cenang beach is only 10 minutes away from the airport. It’s dotted with chic hotels, restaurants, and boasts some of the best nightlife on the island. Because of its casual, upmarket vibe, Cenang Beach is frequented by backpackers and foreign tourists for its amenities and popular seaside bars.
14. Mantanani Beach
Because of the lack of natural predators, Mantanani Island has an abundance of birdlife, so carry a camera and a pair of binoculars. The beach is spotless and secluded too. You’ll get here via an hour-long boat ride from Kuala Abai Jetty on the mainland.
Finally, the pleasure in life comes from seeking silence; not an aural silence, but an internal one, the stillness of being happy, the lightness of letting go. That is why we travel, to calm something restless within us. Perhaps sometimes, the most calming thing we can do is to slow down, to lie back against the sand and listen to the gentle hiss of waves lapping against a pristine shore.