Malaysia's Islands and Beaches


With its rugged, mountainous terrain, Sabah possesses relatively few coastal beaches. However, it does possess some of the best islands in the region.

Tanjung Aru
The seaside resort of Tanjung Aru is 6 km from Kota Kinabalu. International class hotel accommodations or budget chalets are available.

Sipadan Island
Shaped like a 'shitake' mushroom, Pulau Sipadan draws diving enthusiasts from all over the world because of its exceptional water clarity, its unusual seascape, and its extraordinarily wide variety of marine life. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park comprises five idyllic islands which are only 10 to 25 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu by speedboat. These islands--Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sulug--offer stretches of white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and some of the most diverse coral reefs and marine life in the world. They are ideal spots for picnicking, diving and snorkeling, particularly on Sapi and Manukan which have picnic facilities, and Mamutik where cabins are available for rental.

Pulau Layang-Layang
This man-made island, located 165 miles northwest of Kota Kinabalu, was created in 1991 from a coral atoll in the South China Sea. Soil from the mainland and sand pumped from the seabed formed what is today a major attraction for scuba divers and anglers. The 5,000 to 6,000 foot drop around the reef makes it an excellent dive site and the island has become a sanctuary for thousands of terns. Chalet-type accommodations are available.


Like Sabah, Sarawak possesses a coastline that prevents the formation of many lengthy and deep sand beaches. Nonetheless, there are a few gems in Sarawak--beaches made all the more attractive for the relative lack of attention that they have received. Salang Island, a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling, is uninhabited--the perfect holiday escape. The coral reefs lie close to the shore, and colorful little fish can be glimpsed weaving through the coral. The island is also a popular nesting place for turtles.

Siar Beach, about 90 km from Kuching, with its secluded bays and inlets and interesting rock formations, is another inviting spot.

Getting around within Sarawak:

Express boats are available to service the intricate network of rivers and the main towns along their banks. Bus companies also operate regular services within the town centres and certain rural areas.


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