Malaysia’s east coast has long been known to divers for the rich waters around Tioman and the Perhentian islands but the secret is bound to get out: the beaches are gorgeous, too. The east coast is subject to strong monsoons from the end of October through February and sometimes into March. During these months, boat crossings can be rough, many resorts and restaurants close, and we don’t recommend heading to one of the islands. For those willing to risk a spot of rain without leaving the mainland, the beaches of Cherating and Terengganu ofter quiet alternatives.
On the west coast, Pangkor and Langkawi offer year-round sun. Being in the tropics, that also means year-round rain although November through February are often the driest months. These islands are covered with ancient rainforest and ringed with white sandy beaches. Each one has something different to offer. The trees of Langkawi provide shelter to dusky langurs and long-tailed macaques while the mangroves provide a unique habitat of their own. Pangkor and its little sister, Pangkor Laut, are less developed and provide a glimpse into Malaysia as it has been through the ages.
We’ve chosen our favourite resorts and hotels along the coasts and islands. As always, we love small properties but we can’t deny that in a few places, the bigger resorts have cornered the market. Where the location is really special and the service outstanding, we’ve included these below.