Looking for a family holiday in paradise? These Malaysian islands have beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and an abundance of wildlife just waiting to be discovered
Perhentian Islands: Malaysia's dream islands
Located off Malaysia’s northeast coast, around 330 kilometres from the capital Kuala Lumpur, this small group of islands is popular for scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and hiking through jungle, as well as seeing wildlife such as turtles, blue spotted rays, blacktip reef sharks, monitor lizards, geckos and monkeys. Only two of the islands are inhabited. The largest, Perhentian Besar, is more family-friendly, with several resorts, while the smaller Perhentian Kecil is a backpacker mecca. Both are accessible by boat from Kuala Besut.
The islands were historically a waypoint for traders travelling between Thailand and the Malaysian mainland, and the name Perhentian means “stopping point”. The best time to visit to avoid the monsoon season is from March to October.
Lang Tengah Island: Relax, refresh, breathe and feel alive
Idyllic is the ideal way to describe this sublime getaway, which is quieter and less developed than many other Malaysian islands, with just a handful of hotels and resorts. Located between the Perhentian Islands and Redang Island, its name means “the eagle in the middle”. The island can be accessed via boat from Merang Jetty, just outside the fishing village of Tanjung Merang, around 45 minutes’ north of Kuala Terengganu, with the trip taking about 40 minutes.
It is home to conservation organisation Lengah Turtle Watch, which offers volunteers the opportunity to get involved with activities such as night-time beach patrols, collecting eggs and monitoring nests. The best time to visit Lang Tengah Island is from March to October.
Redang Island: Ideal for a luxury holiday escape with children
Home to several upmarket resorts, Redang Island is a great option for families who like a bit of luxury. Considered one of Malaysia’s most beautiful islands, it is the largest in a group of nine islands off the Terengganu coast. The waters around the archipelago were gazetted as a marine park in 1985, making it a great destination for snorkelling and scuba diving, with an abundance of pretty coral and marine life.
Boat transfers to the island operate from Merang Jetty and Shahbandar Jetty. Like other islands on Malaysia’s east coast, many resorts are closed from November to February, so it’s best to plan your holiday for outside these times.
Langkawi: One of Malaysia’s best known holiday destinations
One of Malaysia’s best known holiday destinations, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands located on Malaysia’s north-west coast, near the border with Thailand. Its spectacular karst landscapes have been formed by limestone which has been shaped over hundreds of millions of years. There are several family-friendly resorts to stay, including the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Ritz Carlton Langkawi and The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.
Go island hopping to explore the stunning marine park and snorkel amongst shipwrecks. Langkawi also has duty-free status, meaning it is also paradise for shoppers! And make sure you take a walk along the 125-metre long SkyBridge, which is the longest free span and curved bridge in the world, for spectacular views. The best time to visit Langkawi is from October to March.
Rawa Island: Families with children will undoubtedly have a blast!
With a waterslide into the ocean from the jetty at Rawai Island Resort, this small coral island in Johor in Malaysia’s south is sure to be a hit with the kids! The island gets its name from the white doves that are abundant here.
There are only two resorts on the island — Rawa Island Resort and Alang’s Rawa Resort. Accessible by a 30-minute speedboat ride from Mersing, the island has rocky cliffs on one side and a pristine white sand beach on the other. Spend your days snorkelling, swimming, windsurfing, sailing, fishing canoeing, playing beach volleyball or simply relaxing.
How to get to Malaysia from Australia
Malaysia’s flagship carrier, Malaysia Airlines, flies to Kuala Lumpur, with connections to other parts of the country. Flights take around eight-and-a-half hours from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, seven-and-a-half hours from Adelaide and five-and-a-half hours from Perth. Budget carrier Scoot flies to several Malaysian destinations via Singapore from Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Perth. They include Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi.
In partnership with Tourism Malaysia.