Itching for a getaway? How about dipping your toes in paradise on some pretty islands near Singapore.

Where to go in Malaysia, you may wonder. On top of popular cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca, there are several islands near Singapore where you can find some of the best beaches in Malaysia. These islands have no shortage of idyllic beach resorts for you to spend a lazy weekend pampering yourself. A couple of them also make for great diving locations, so if adventure is your thing then you’ll be plenty satisfied too.

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1) Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands - Best Beaches in Malaysia

Off the coast of northeastern Malaysia lies the Perhentian Islands, a small group of coral-fringed islands boasting pristine white sand beaches. The two main islands here are Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil.

Stunning corals surround the islands, making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. Take in the picturesque scenery while you cruise above the turquoise waters on a sea kayak, or sunbathe lazily upon the coast. Bring along your hiking shoes too — the jungle trails snaking across the islands lead towards spectacular viewpoints!

Where to stay
New Cocohut Chalet, set on Pulau Perhentian Besar, enjoys a beachfront location and close proximity to Perhentian Beach, Long Beach and Turtle Bay Divers.

If you’re looking to stay on Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Alunan Resort offers stylish interiors, a beachfront setting, on-site snorkelling, as well as hiking trails and scuba diving nearby.

How to get there
Take a flight to Kota Bharu Airport. Hop on a taxi to Kuala Besut jetty, where a 30-minute fast boat ride will take you to the Perhantian Islands.

Fly me to Kota Bharu!

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2) Sipadan Island

Sipadan-Malaysia- CC 2.0 / ChenWu

Gorgeous Sipadan Island, regarded as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, is a place to be ticked off your bucket list if you’re an avid diver. Its warm tropical waters are home to over 3,000 species of sea creatures, so you’ll have plentiful opportunities to catch sight of large pelagic species like sea turtles, barracuda and manta rays. The government has imposed a restriction on the daily snorkeling and diving permits, so be sure to book ahead in order to secure one of these!

Catch a ride to the Tanjung Leman jetty, located north of Johor Bahru. From there, hop on a ferry (pre-arranged beforehand with your resort) towards Sibu Island. The total travel time lasts about three hours.

Where to stay
Accommodation on Sipadan has been banned since 2004, so your best bet will be to stay on the neighbouring island of Semporna Island, located an hour away by fast boat. Seafest Hotel is a family-friendly accommodation with an outdoor pool, fitness center and bar amenities.
How to get there
Board a flight to Tawau. Hop in a cab that takes you towards Semporna, a coastal town located a one and a half hour ride away. At the jetty, catch an hour-long fast boat ride to Sipadan!

Fly me to Tawau!

3) Sibu Island

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Sibu Island welcomes vacationers with its white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Sit back and relax against a hammock, or sunbathe upon the coasts if you’re in a leisurely mood. Travellers with a love for sports and outdoor activities will be keen to cruise across the sea on a kayak or trek along one of the many jungle trails. The area is a marine park, with snorkeling waters containing colourful coral reefs, so don’t miss out on scuba diving or snorkeling here!

Where to stay
The beachfront Sari Pacifica Resort & Spa Sibu Island is set within walking distance to Pulau Papan Beach and Kambau Beach. Lounge by the hotel’s outdoor pool, or sweat it off with a game of volleyball by the beach.
How to get there
Catch a ride to the Tanjung Leman jetty, located north of Johor Bahru. From there, hop on a ferry (pre-arranged beforehand with your resort) towards Sibu Island. The total travel time lasts about three hours.

4) Pangkor Island

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Water sports, sightseeing or trekking — Pangkor Island has them all! Kayaking and snorkeling are popular sea sport activities here. If you prefer to keep dry, lounge lazily upon one of the white sand beaches (Coral Bay and Pasir Bogak are well loved among travellers), embark on a trek through Titi Gantung or Teluk Segadas Hill or go on a bicycle tour around the island. Discover the local culture through visiting sites like the Pangkor Fishing Villages, the Dutch Fort at Teluk Gudang and Pangkor Town, where mouthwatering street food options await.

Where to stay
The ultra-luxe Pangkor Laut Resort offers a private beach, tennis courts, two swimming pools and a fitness centre, while Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Damai Laut is a comfortable and budget-friendly option featuring direct beach access, a golf course, tennis court, sauna, swimming pool and kids pool.
How to get there
Board a flight to Ipoh Airpot or Skypark Subang Terminal on Firefly, followed by a one and a half hour drive to Lumut.

5) Pulau Tenggol

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Pulau Tenggol, boasting pristine coral formations and crystal clear waters is a haven for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Good visibility and waters teeming with marine life makes for excellent underwater excursions — but keep in mind that most of the popular dive sites have deep waters with currents, thus having the Advanced Open Water Diver certification is preferred if you’re keen on exploring these sites.

Where to stay
Visitors may stay on one of the three resorts on the island, or make day trips from Dungun (located a 45-minute ferry ride away). The latter offers a wide spectrum of accommodation options, from the luxurious Tanjong Jara Resort to wallet-friendly choices like Semarak Beach Inn.
How to get there
Catch a flight to Kuala Terengganu. From there, hop on a cab for a two hour drive to Kuala Dungun, where a 45-minute ride from the jetty will lead you to Pulau Tenggol.