From The Straits Times    |

Living in Singapore, we have the luxury of being close to beach destinations like Bali, Cebu and Thailand. But what if I told you that there are even closer alternatives? Believe it or not, Malaysia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. Of course you’ve probably heard of Pulau Tioman and Pulau Redang (which is also mentioned below), but there are so many other beaches and resorts that you can explore if you want a more exclusive alternative.

1. Laguna Redang Island Resort, Redang

Image: Laguna Redang Island Resort

Probably one of the most popular beach destinations in Malaysia is Pulau Redang. With its blue waters and aquatic life in abundance, Redang is a great spot if you love to to snorkel or dive. You can still see plenty of well-preserved coral reefs in its crystal clear waters.

Most of the accommodation in Redang are beach resorts and the Laguna Redang Island Resort received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor. You can choose if you want to live in a villa with a pool view, garden view or (of course) a sea view. I already know which one I will pick.

2. Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, Gaya Island

Image: Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa

If you’re a little more adventurous and you don’t mind trying out new activities like trekking, snorkelling and maybe a little bit of scuba diving then Gaya Island is another spot you should try to visit. Of course you can always just chill out by the beach and soak in all the tropical goodness of it all.

There are at least 48 rooms in the resort and they are all named after the different species of hibiscus flowers found on the island. So much of the design and interior is influenced by Bornean culture and textures. You can’t help but feel like you’re on a luxurious exotic island, when really you’re just in Malaysia.

3. Tanjung Rhu Resort, Langkawi

Image: Tanjung Rhu Resort

While it has a rough past which includes being conquered by the Siamese, Langkawi island has come a long way in becoming the tourist destination that it is today. Still so rich in history, Langkawi is a great place to go to with your family for a quick beach retreat or just to switch off for awhile.

With so many different amenities available at Tanjung Rhu Resort, it’s no wonder they won the Travellers’ Choice Award from TripAdvisor in 2015 and 2016. You can also sign up for the recreational activities with the hotel, including nature walks and even explorations of Langkawi’s limestone caves.

Oh and don’t forget, if you’re going to stay there from 1 July 2016 onwards, you’ll have to pay a levy that’s between RM1 to RM9 for every day that you stay on the island. How much you have to pay will depend on the class of the accommodation you’re living in, so don’t forget to factor those prices in and have the cash prepared in advanced.

4. Rawa Island Resort, Rawa Island

Image: Rawa Island Resort

This island that’s about an hour out from Mersing doesn’t really have much. If you can picture yourself being a beach bum all day, everyday, then Rawa island is perfect for you. Really all this island can provide you with is its perfect white beaches and blue waters.

The 77 rooms at Rawa Island Resort were built to seamlessly blend with the natural landscape of the island. You can’t help but feel like you’re one with nature when you’re there. If you prefer not to stay in their beachfront accommodations (I don’t see why not), they’ve got other options like the Hillside Deluxe or the Frangipani Villas.

5. Alunan Resort, Perhentian Islands

Image: Alunan Resort

Probably one of the more well-known islands that’s considered obscure is the Perhentian Islands which is made up of 2 islands – Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. These islands have apparently gotten a little more crowded over the years, but still retain their charm with blue waters and an abundance of marine animals.

Another resort that also received the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor is Alunan Resort. This boutique hotel has a modern charm to it, complete with a hammock you can chill in that overlooks the sea.

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