Island getaways in Malaysia

Pulau Bohey Dulang is one of the eight islands in Sabah’s Tun Sakaran Marine Park. — Photo: AIMI NAS/Sabah Tourism Board

Hop on a boat and explore the country’s many wonderful islands; chances are you haven’t stepped foot on these ones.

THERE are 878 islands dotting the waters of Malaysia, placing our beautiful country fourth among South-East Asian countries with the most islands.

While we may not have as many as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, as per, our islands do not lack when it comes to being tropical paradise. Pristine beaches, azure waters and diverse marine life make Malaysian islands the perfect destination for relaxing in nature.

Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Redang and Pulau Tioman are some of the local islands that often top travellers’ list, but the next time you’re planning an island getaway, why not go for ones that are less visited?

Turtle hatchery is a major attraction for day-trippers visiting Pulau Satang, located in Sarawak’s Pulau Talang-Satang National Park. —Photos: FilepicTurtle hatchery is a major attraction for day-trippers visiting Pulau Satang, located in Sarawak’s Pulau Talang-Satang National Park. —Photos: Filepic

Pulau Satang, Sarawak

Within the 19,414ha of Sarawak’s first marine protected area, Talang Satang National Park, lies a group of four islands. Two of these are Pulau Satang Besar and Pulau Satang Kecil, the former combining with the remaining two islands Pulau Talang-Talang Besar and Pulau Talang-Talang Kecil to form a sanctuary for turtles – subsequently earning them the moniker Sarawak’s Turtle Islands.

Often when Pulau Satang is mentioned, it refers to the bigger two of the Satang islands (also the largest of all four). It houses a turtle hatchery. However, it is off-limits to visitors, unless they are accompanied by Sarawak Forestry Corporation Rangers at all times and remain within the designated area.

The shallow coral reefs surrounding the island make it perfect for snorkelling. Scuba diving is also allowed but only in the designated zone.

Boat rides, departing from Damai Beach, Sarawak Boat Club Jetty or Telaga Air Jetty, will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes. You can enjoy a day trip here by joining an organised tour.

Pulau Bohey Dulang, Sabah

Pulau Bohey Dulang is the second largest (after Pulau Bodgaya) of the eight islands within Sabah’s Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Thanks to its clear turquoise water and rich marine biodiversity, the island is an excellent location for snorkelling.

An absolute must-do here is hiking up to the 353m peak. The 700m-long path winds around the island and takes about 15 to 40 minutes to complete, depending on your pace. Your hard work climbing up will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the marine park, including the stunning lagoon formed by the crater of an extinct volcano. You will need to wear covered shoes on this challenging but rewarding hike. You can also rent the practical and sturdy Adidas Kampung shoe at a nominal fee.

The island is accessible via boats from the Semporna Jetty, which will take around 30 minutes of journey with a distance of roughly 25km between them. You may opt to join an island-hopping tour or hire a private tour to just Bohey Dulang; the latter will require a higher payment.

Pulau Tenggol is a popular place for scuba diving in Terengganu.Pulau Tenggol is a popular place for scuba diving in Terengganu.

Pulau Tenggol, Terengganu

Nature lovers will find Pulau Tenggol a fascinating place to visit, as it offers wonders both underwater and on land.

A small rocky island accessible by boat from the Kuala Dungun Jetty, it is part of the four island clusters (Tenggol, Redang, Perhentian, Kapas) that form Terengganu Marine Park. The Pulau Tenggol cluster itself comprises the namesake island, Pulau Nyireh, Pulau Tokong Timur, Pulau Tokong Talang, Pulau Tokong Burung and Pulau Tokong Kemudi.

This crocodile-shaped island is a diving paradise, not just because of its thriving marine ecosystem but also because it has more than 20 dive sites to explore. Aside from that, it is also home to a forest reserve that is over 200 years old. If you love both sea and land explorations, then this is the island for you.

Pulau Harimau, Johor

Here’s another island shaped like an animal. Its silhouette reminiscent of a sleeping tiger, hence its name Pulau Harimau (which translates to Tiger Island), this mesmerising destination in Mersing, Johor is often called a “paradise”. A roughly 30-minute boat ride from the Mersing Jetty will take you to the island.

Going through a cave, you will find there a lagoon with cool, turquoise water – perfect for a fun day of swimming. The island’s crystal-clear waters and diverse underwater ecology also make for great snorkelling.

Day-trippers would usually visit the island as part of their island-hopping itinerary, which include nearby islands like Pulau Hujung, popular for its pristine white beaches; Pulau Tengah, the sole accommodation on it being the Batu Batu Resort; Pulau Besar, perfect for families as there are more accommodations to choose from; and Pulau Rawa, often touted as “the Maldives of Johor”.

Snorkelling has always been a popular activity at Perak’s Pulau Giam.Snorkelling has always been a popular activity at Perak’s Pulau Giam.

Pulau Giam, Perak

Pulau Giam is technically an islet, located in the waters of Pulau Pangkor, a highly popular island destination in Perak. Small as it may be, it is a favoured spot by holidayers who like snorkelling in peace, as it does have relatively less visitors compared to the main island.

Boat rides from Pantai Teluk Nipah (or Teluk Nipah Beach) is the only mode of transportation to Pulau Giam. However, if you happen to be visiting in mid-February, you can try walking to it instead. That’s when the sea level drops low enough that you can easily walk the roughly 400m distance from the beach to the islet. This annual “sea parting” phenomenon is also observed in Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi.

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