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Private islands in Malaysia
If you’ve had just about enough of the hectic city lifestyle and are up to your ears at the sound of another car alarm, chances are you’re close to jumping on board the next flight out of town. But where do you go for complete tranquility?
The answer is simple - the beach.
The feeling of the sun’s soft rays penetrating your skin, your feet sinking into ultra-soft sand, sound of waves echoing throughout the coast, and… honks from motorists on the road? So much for a zen retreat!
If you’re looking for an ultimate beach getaway that’s far from civilisation and tacky tourist traps, skip the public beaches and invest in a private island hideaway instead. Luxurious and quietly extravagant, these envy-worthy getaways promise one thing: peaceful exclusivity.
Chances are you probably already know that we have many islands all around the country, but how many islands exactly? The National Department of Survey and Mapping has recorded a total of 878 islands in Malaysia, including coasts from West and East Malaysia. Some of these islands are privately owned while some are still uninhabited and available for sale.
Islands such as Perhentian, Redang and Tioman are some of the more popular spots around, with reputations rightfully earned thanks to their vast natural beauty and untouched beaches. We’ve picked four other private islands promising even more exclusivity and solitude to redefine a beach getaway.
Mataking Island – Dive haven with an underwater post office
Quietly tucked away in the state of Sabah, Mataking Island is a 45-minute speedboat ride from Semporna, the mainland closest to the island. It is situated right next to Sipadan Island, one of the world’s most popular diving sites to date. The first thing you’ll notice about Mataking would be the way it looks from a distance. It is, in fact, two islands connected by a narrow sandbar. During low tide, you’ll be able to walk from one island to another in under 20 minutes.
Mataking has 10 diving sites that will allow you to swim with turtles, find lobsters, discover coral formations, and even dive in the night. However, the most popular attraction comes in the shape of a post office box way below sea level. Yes, there is an underwater post office that actually functions!
The first of its kind in Malaysia, the ‘Mataking 1’ post office joined four other underwater post offices around the world in March 2006. All mails will be collected twice a week, from which it will then be sent out to anywhere in the world. Talk about special service!
There is only one resort built on Mataking that is the Reef Dive Resort. With a variety of packages, the resort caters to tourists of all sorts including hard-core divers, honeymooners and simple beach-lovers. Set amidst the island’s tropics, the resort’s King watchtower allows a stunning aerial view across the sea.
More about Mataking Island here.
Rawa Island – Quiet relaxation on royal ground
Rawa is a tiny, secluded island located off the coast of the state of Johor in West Malaysia. Relatively close to our neighbouring country, Singapore, Rawa has seen a slight increase in expatriate tourists over the past few years. Most profoundly known for being owned by the Johor Sultanate, the island is beautifully kept and delicately developed with only two resorts available to visitors.
Unlike the dive haven that was Mataking Island, Rawa is naturally made for quiet tranquility on its white, sandy beach and clear blue waters. Among some of the popular activities include canoeing, snorkeling, beach volleyball and napping uninterruptedly in the soft sea breeze – a place that’s perfect for less adventurous beach lovers with complete relaxation on their minds. The back of the island reveals steep, edgy cliffs and rock formations, a view best experienced on a calm day using a kayak.
To visit Rawa, take a 30-minute speedboat ride from Mersing, the closest mainland to the Rawa. To secure a good night’s sleep, choose either Rawa Island Resort or Alang’sRawa as these are the only accommodation on the island.
More about Rawa Island here.
Pangkor Laut – First-class indulgence at its best
Sitting pretty off the coast of the state of Perak in West Malaysia is Pangkor Laut, a stunning private island offering first-class facilities and services in the middle of well-preserved rainforest and pristine beaches. It features the exclusive Pangkor Laut Resort, the one and only hotel accommodating tourists and managing the island.
Visitors will find themselves surrounded by nature’s beauty, garnished with modern facilities to cater to the comfort of each person. A true five-star experience, this private island provides a lavish retreat from the city life with a wide range of opulent villas all around it. Made for escapists with an eye for all things posh, choose from a range of activities including chartered cruises, yacht sailing, golfing, jungle trekking, fishing, snorkeling and holistic indulgences to rest and relax in style.
To reach the island, opt for a chartered plane or take the resort’s privately owned boat from the Marina Island Pangkor on mainland Lumut.
More about Pangkor Laut here.
Layang-Layang Island – From military base to dive retreat
Also dubbed the ‘Swallow’s Reef’, Layang-Layang is located off the coast of Sabah where only a private airline from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, will fly you directly to the island. From afar, the island is seen as a small mass of land with more than half of the area covered by the airport. Completely isolated yet well maintained, Layang-Layang is a man-made island that once served as a military base for the Malaysian Navy.
Land aside, the island is internationally known for its 14 dive sites – all of which offer stunning views of the sea, marine life and vast coral formations. Schools of huge hammerhead sharks are said to come round the months of April and June, while a range of sea-faring migratory birds are visible during certain months.
The only accommodation available is at the Avillion, a dive and bird-focused luxury resort offering top-notch facilities, comfortable living and various diving and non-diving packages for visitors.
More about Layang-Layang Island here.