Ah, an island holiday… There’s no better place to escape and forget about the usual day-to-day worries. But what do you love most about it?
Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush of various water activities, like parasailing or diving? Or do you love getting in touch with nature as you hike through thick forests and take in unforgettable views? How about taking it easy and breathing in the sea air as you watch crashing waves and other beachgoers?
If you’re in need of a break, the islands of Pangkor, Perhentian and Tioman are just what the doctor ordered – we’ve listed our favorite stays from budget to luxury:
$ – Hotel Nelayan
Situated off the coast of Perak, Pangkor Island is one of the few picturesque islands on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and is far less crowded compared to Penang and Langkawi – barring school holidays, of course. (Those of you who wish to avoid mobs of holidayers, take note.) The island is about a 45-minute ferry ride from Lumut Jetty, with return tickets costing RM10. The ferry comes at a regular interval of around every 45 minutes.
Hotel Nelayan is situated on the western side of the island in Pantai Pasir Bogak and is strategically located near convenience stores like 7-Eleven and well-loved seafood restaurants such as Restoran Pasir Bogak. Being a newly-constructed hotel, its design differs from most of the old-fashioned family resorts, tapping into an urban luxury concept with industrial touches such as exposed brick walls. Its decor has a decidedly nautical theme, paying tribute to fishermen (or ‘nelayan’ in Bahasa Malaysia, the hotel’s namesake).
The hotel offers guests package stays that are perfect for a weekend escapade, including transportation from Lumut to the hotel, breakfast and dinner, accommodation for one night, as well as exciting activities such as island-hopping, snorkeling and a banana boat ride.
See & Do
- Pangkor is home to a large free-range Hornbill population, so if you’re keen on meeting the majestic Hornbill up-close, head to Teluk Nipah Beach in the early morning or to Sunset View Chalet for the free daily feeding session at 6.30pm.
- Explore Pangkor’s whimsical Chinese temples – Foo Lin Kong Temple, located on the east side of the island near the foot of Pangkor Hill, has a charming pond and a miniature replica of the Great Wall of China, while Lin Je Kong Temple has colorful statues of cartoonish animals.
- Enjoy a picnic on the white sandy beaches of the tiny Giam Island, which you can walk to during low tide from Teluk Nipah Beach. Be sure to wear sandals or flip-flops to avoid stepping on any sharp rocks or coral as you make your way across, and keep an eye on the tide so you can make it back before the tide comes in or you might get stranded!
Rates start from: RM95 / night
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$$ – The Barat Perhentian
Perhentian actually consists of two islands – Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. The latter is popular among backpackers and has a more rambunctious party vibe compared to Perhentian Besar, which is more tranquil and family-friendly. To get to the islands, hop on a speedboat from the Kuala Besut Jetty. The trip usually takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on the weather and sea conditions. Return tickets cost RM70, topped with an additional RM5 marine conservation fee.
The Barat Perhentian is located on Perhentian Besar, offering guests a more peaceful island experience. Its accommodations include rooms and chalets with either garden or seafront views. On the outside, its buildings resemble the wooden stilted homes you’d typically see in Malay villages, but inside, its rooms are spacious and fitted with contemporary furnishings.
Scuba diving is such a popular activity on Perhentian that the resort has its own diving school: The Barat Dive Center. Here, you can take PADI Open Water Courses (OWC), Discovery Scuba Dive or Advanced OWC. You can also rent snorkeling gear if you wish to check out the island’s various snorkeling hotspots or have one of the resort’s expert nature guides take you on a jungle trek through the island’s criss-crossing trails.
See & Do
- According to some visitors, the crystal clear waters of Perhentian can rival that of the Maldives, so there’s no better place in Peninsular Malaysia to earn your Open Water Diver Certification – most of the dive sites nearby are perfect for beginners. Highly-recommended sites include Sugar Wreck and The Pinnacle (also known as Tokong Laut). Diving season typically runs from April to October.
- If you’re not keen on diving, not to worry: Perhentian’s vibrant coral reefs and marine wildlife are just as easy to admire as you snorkel. Turtle Sanctuary Beach and Teluk Keke are popular snorkeling sites, but guests at The Barat won’t need to venture far, as there are pretty decent corals just off the resort’s beach.
- When in Perhentian, you can’t miss out on the fresh seafood! There are plenty of restaurants along the beaches offering the yummiest BBQ seafood. The catch of the day is often so fresh, they don’t require much seasoning or other ingredients – just dunk it in the spicy-tangy dip and you’re good to go. The Barat Perhentian Restaurant is one of the best on the island, so if you’re staying there, bon appétit!
Rates start from: RM198 / night
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$$$ – Berjaya Tioman Resort
Set beside a golden beach with turquoise blue waters stretching beyond, Berjaya Tioman Resort is a haven from the bustling city life. The island is about a 2-hour ferry ride from the Berjaya Jetty in Tanjung Gemok to Tekek Village Jetty. Similar to Perhentian, return tickets cost RM70, plus an additional RM5 marine conservation fee.
Choose from a garden view or a seaside view when you stay in the resort’s cozy chalets, which provide plenty of room and privacy. Our pick would be the Seaview or Beach chalets – each one has its own balcony with charming vistas of the open sea.
The resort offers a comprehensive range of fun island activities for guests, from diving (they have an in-house PADI dive center) and other water-bound activities to jungle trekking and a tour of all the island’s popular attractions. So convenient! And if your body’s feeling achy after a long day, destress with a well-deserved spa treatment at Ayura Spa.
See & Do
- Spend the entire day out on the beach, where you can go crazy with the multitude of beach and water activities available, such as kayaking, snorkeling, banana boat rides and beach volleyball. Tioman’s most popular beaches include Genting Beach, Tekek Beach and Salang Beach.
- Take a 40-minute trek through the jungle to Asah Waterfall, where you can cool off under the clear, flowing water. Start your trek from Kampung Mukut, where you can also spend time chatting with the friendly village residents or sampling the local cuisine.
- Do your part to help efforts to protect sea turtles by visiting Juara Turtle Project to learn more about these elegant, endangered creatures and what’s being done to conserve their population in the area. The main Turtle Season is from mid-March until the end of October every year, so if you visit around this time, you may be able to visit the hatchery, where volunteers have placed eggs collected from nests to protect them from predators or poaching.
Rates start from: RM331 / night
Be warned: going on holiday to these islands may make you reluctant to return to your normal everyday life. Ready to take that risk? Book your trip on Traveloka today!