Written by Beverley Lennon
I don’t know about you but I absolutely NEED to slot at least one island getaway in my annual travel bucket list. Now, with so many islands around Southeast Asia, we all tend to forget about some of the beautiful ones that sit right in Malaysia or best yet just a short drive and boat ride from Kuala Lumpur.
I give you the Terengganu Islands – these not-so-remote water paradises located on the East Coast of West Malaysia can be reached within a 4-hour drive and short 45-minute boat ride from the city, perfect for when you just need to unplug and get out of town for a weekend getaway!
But it is really the accommodation options that set these islands apart – while most of them have been known among the backpacking crowds for long, they’ve now been stepping up their game! Think clifftop rooms and ocean views, similar to what you can get in Bali or Phuket, but this time away from all the chaos!
Now is the perfect time to enjoy endless turquoise lagoons and a do-nothing lifestyle without having to venture too far from home!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Most resorts on the Terengganu Islands are closed between October and March during the monsoon season.
12 Romantic oceanfront resorts in Langkawi with direct beach access, over-water villas, ocean view spas and more for couples!
Note: The prices reflected below are the low season rates, and they exclude tax and service charges. Accommodation rates often change with room availability and low or high seasons. We recommend double-checking for the final prices before confirming your booking.
1. This resort is built into a cliff! – Alunan Resort (Perhentian Kecil)
The small Perhentian Island is known for its party vibes and we like it that way but for years it’s been hard to find one comfortable and affordable luxury stay that would make you want to stay longer.
Now, years have passed and one, if not THE most spectacular accommodation option you can find on Perhentian Kecil has got to be Alunan Resort – a place where everything is designed to put those all-blue ocean views on full display!
The resort is literally attached to the rocky shores of the island (in fact you’ll need to hike a little to reach your suite), sweeping down to merge with the transparent waters all the while protected by lush surroundings!
Alunan is also the romance spot of choice on the island, owing no doubt to the privacy of its 18 intimate private suites which feature a private rooftop sun deck on the top floor where a hammock, sun loungers and a shaded patio awaits. There are also 2-bedroom options for families!
When not taking a dip in the sea or chowing down on Malaysian and Western cuisine at their onsite Bayu Restaurant, head to Jemari Ayu Spa for pampering treatments or drop by their excursion center and let them take care of your day planning!
TripCanvas’ Tip: If you’re looking for value-for-money dining options, past guests have recommended checking for eateries located along the beach too!2. Travel to Redang in their own private plane! – The Taaras Beach Resort and Spa (Redang Island)
The Taaras Beach Resort and Spa has been doing the buzz on social media lately. I’ve seen a ton of friends from KL traveling over to Redang to stay at this beachfront property and thought “what’s so special about this place?!”.
Well, the answer is that simple: it is stunning! Whether you’re after a spectacular infinity pool overlooking the South China Sea or prefer enjoying some romantic time in the bathtub with equally great views, there’s no shortage of scenic panoramas at Taaras Beach Resort and Spa.
This low-key 5-star island hideaway, wedged between the jungle and the ocean, features rooms, suites, as well as an exclusive five-bedroom villa option and we have to confess that the hotel itself is as impressive as its location – decadent interiors guarantee for a barefoot luxury experience, with every corner of the property being simply sumptuous.
Along with its aesthetically-pleasing looks, the resort also features other amenities that’ll get you tempted to come over. In fact, it’s hard to pick their piece de resistance. I am torned between their Taaras Spa, Beach Brasserie or Bayu Bar that all sound equally irresistible!
Now for the best part – Taaras Beach Resort and Spa even offers packages that include flying from Subang Airport to Redang Island in their very own private plane!
And besides the VVIP treatments on offer, we’re also delighted to see that this is a conservation-driven resort with its very own turtle sanctuary! The lab is managed by The Taaras’ very own marine biologist who guides guests through the sea turtle life cycle from nesting and hatching!
3. Did you know there’s a villa option in Perhentian? – Bubu Villa (Perhentian Kecil)
Sadly, my first and only time in the Perhentian Islands was back when I was a broke student so we had to stay at a budget accommodation. Fast forward to a couple of years later, now that I can probably save to afford a proper holiday, I can’t help but consider Bubu Villa next!
Truth be told, I am quite surprised to see villa options in Perhentian Kecil – the tiny island that’s often associated with backpackers. Resting at the very end of Long Beach, you’ll find these 18 stunning villas with options ranging from garden, beach or family villa.
For the couples out there, you’ll love the sandy pathways that lead you to the Beach Villa. And I kid you not but this villa category resembles very much the ones you can find in the Maldives. And it does not get much cooler than the outdoor bathroom too!
As part of the property, you’ll find two dining options – Santai and The World Cafe. Not that you have to worry about food though as there are plenty of choices along the beach (P.S. Back then the Perhentian Islands used to be famous for their special Snickers Milkshakes that were incredibly yummy!).
Bonus: its Grape Tree Spa that serves some magical ocean views while you swoon away!
4. Enjoy zero barriers between you and the beach – BuBu Resort Perhentian Island (Perhentian Kecil)
If you feel more content with the usual hotel rooms, then BuBu’s gotchu too! A few minutes’ walk from BuBu Villa brings you to BuBu Resort – a perennial favorite among the Perhentian fanatics.
Prepare for equally great settings and stunning views! The stay dots the popular Long Beach in Perhentian Kecil and is a great deal for the sun-seeker in you!
There are only 36 guest rooms at the resort and that’s principally for you to enjoy some privacy. Days here are spent walking the mile-long beach, sunbathing and swimming in crystal clear waters that are remarkably calm.
Should the crowd at the beach bother you, you can always enjoy your private sunlounger or head to your room for some quiet time – each comes with either a balcony or a garden terrace.
Now, with so much time spent in the water, you might get hungry! Luckily, the onsite Santai Restaurant will hook you up with some delectable European and Asian dishes and you won’t have to get your feet out of the sand as some of their tables sit right on the beach!
To add, BuBu’s excursion list will also be a subtle reminder that you’re in paradise. Think secret beach picnic, sunset cruise, island hopping, candle light dinner and more!
5. Serving you a saltwater swimming pool! – MIMPI Perhentian (Perhentian Kecil)
How many times have you booked a hotel on an island only to realise you have to drag your luggage on the sand for over an hour to be able to reach it?! As an island lover, this happened to me too many times! Truth be told, it’s not the most relaxing way to start the holidays! Well, luck is on your side if you’re planning a vacation to Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island) as MIMPI Perhentian is located right next to the main jetty!
That means, you simply have to take a few steps from the boat to be able to check into your comfortable room before changing into your swimsuit and hitting the blue waters of the island!
With its sleek design and contemporary decor, MIMPI is a sickening combo of luxury and comfort (and of course, guests love it)! Some room categories come with giddy views of the infinite horizon but you should definitely know that it comes at an affordable price too!
As for other facilities, the hotel features two eateries with a fine selection of local and Western fare. To note that no alcohol is allowed within the outlets but who needs booze when there’s ice cream?!
MIMPI is also loaded with a sublime saltwater adult pool that overlooks the ocean – these mind-blowing blues of the Perhentian Islands are a real feast for your eyes!
The other good news is that you can soothe your other senses with a series of body treatments at their MANJA Spa!
6. Unleash your inner Robinson Crusoe – Gem Island Resort & Spa (Gemia Island)
It does not have to cost you an arm and a leg to honeymoon on a private island. Gem Island is as dreamy as it sounds and what an appropriate name, it’s almost a fantasy to the ears!
There’s truly no better way to enjoy your nuptials than checking into a private island resort which features only suites and villas (some of which stand above the ocean)!
Past guests have even found themselves to be the only ones at the resort; that means if you’re lucky enough, you could truly enjoy the whole island to yourself! The on-site restaurant boasts Asian and Western cuisine while you can even call up for some room service–- yep it can get boujee in here!
And now coming to the most stunning feature – you’ll find the magnificent pool directly engraved within an enormous granite rock, overlooking the sea. You’ll find yourself jumping into the ocean where you can swim with whale sharks, out and… ploof, in the pool, after which, you also get to enjoy seeing turtles hatch at the sanctuary!
7. Baby sharks’ sighting, underwater photoshoot and more! – Laguna Redang Island Resort
Exclusive seaview rooms, white sandy beach, incredible sunrises, diving experiences, pool, jacuzzi, spa treatments — these are just some of the brilliant things you can expect from Laguna Redang Island Resort. The best part is that it’s a family-friendly stay that your bank balance can afford!
Now, don’t get your hopes too high, Laguna Redang Island Resort isn’t an option for when you’re looking for a hotel with the fluffiest bathrobe but it’s comfortable enough and with so much time to be spent outdoors, you’ll surely just be in at the end of the day for a good snooze!
But oh wait, I missed a point here. In case you are after some luxury, then their Laguna Suite is as exclusive as you expect. And if your room doesn’t transport you to relaxation nirvana, their D’Manja Forest Spa just might! Your post-massage feeds can be found right at their Sang Suria Buffet Restaurant or you can also find fresh seafood (based on availability) at their Sri Serai a-la-carte restaurant!
When you can drag yourself away from the property, try to spare time for their daily afternoon snorkeling trip to the nearby Redang Marine Park or help to feed the baby sharks roaming around the resort too!
8. Fancy breakfast with a view?! – Wisana Village Redang Island
A simple peek at this resort’s location on Instagram makes me want to book a staycation there for every weekend of my life! BAM, my travel bucket list is now longer!
In fact, looking at the pictures reminds me of this little paradise island I once visited in Thailand – Koh Phanghan, but no it’s even better because this little gem is right in Malaysia on the beautiful island of Redang!
Not only do Monday blues look a tad different at Wisana Resort Redang Island, but it’s also the chill vibes that reign there that feel inviting and will make you want to start saving for your next island getaway.
At this seafront heaven, you get to unlock an affordable luxury experience. Situated in a natural setting, guarded by the surrounding Kerengga Island, Ekor Tebu Island, Lima Island, Chupak Island and Bidong Island, this is where you get to kick off the day with breakfast by the beach while sitting in a tropical natural surrounding!
Throughout the day, you’ll find comfort on one of their colourful poufs in multiple cosy spaces that face the ocean. And if you’re one who craves a plunge every hour, a few steps take you to the big blue – azure crystal waters await. Venture further to come close to majestic gentle giants – yes, diving around the resort allows you to sight on whale sharks!
With so much to see and do, you’ll love coming back to their comfortable chalet for a good night’s sleep after a seafront dinner at their Kerengga View Café.
9. Pool-access rooms in a lesser-known oasis – Summer Bay Lang Tengah
The Terengganu Islands are much more than just the Perhentian Islands and Redang. Lang Tengah for instance, is one of its hidden gems! Lang Tengah is kept secret for a good reason – prepare for untouched sandy beaches, lively corals and a laid-back way of life. It is also known as a top-diving site! A few metres underwater is where you can come up close with a ghost wreck and fish garden!
One of the best ways to explore this paradise-on-earth is by staying overnight. Overlooking the spectacular South China Sea, you’ll find the tropical hideaway of Summer Bay Lang Tengah Island Resort where gentle waves of turquoise waters set the scene for a worthy escape.
Offering beachfront dining and other facilities with unbeatable views, the hotel appeals to big groups and families but rest assured, it does not exclude couples on the lookout for a romantic getaway. If you’re one who always needs to be close to the water, their pool-access room is what you need – wake up and take a few steps from your bed to be in the pool!
Stay packages are inclusive of meals (breakfast or all inclusive), snorkeling trips and jungle trekking! Be sure to keep a night for stargazing – Lang Tengah’s skies are known to be free from light pollution!
10. Did we hear ‘private pool’?! – Coral View Island Resort (Perhentian Besar)
How often do you come across a private pool villa at an affordable price? That’s an almost impossible scenario! Especially when you’re overseas in touristy places like Bali or Phuket! But it seems that the island gods have listened to our prayers and blessed us with Coral View Island Resort. Though not necessarily luxurious, this is where you get to enjoy the ‘luxury’ of your own private pool!
Located on the bigger island of the Perhentian sisters, this is where you get to wake up to the sound and sight of the ocean waves washing up on the shore.
Spend the day lazing by your private pool, soaking up the sun, or go exploring around the islands, hop on and off a boat to relish on the magical underwater world – not that you’ll have to go too far though as there’s a good patch of coral garden right in front of the resort on Teluk Pauh Beach itself and it’s home to turtles too!
The beachfront pool villas come in various options, accommodating your group size. Whether you’re here as a couple or a family, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the little luxuries (that is: private pool, ocean views, direct access to the beach)! You’ll also be surrounded by a lush garden, filled with exciting fauna – squirrels, monitor lizards, bats, monkeys and flying lemurs are often seen entertaining guests!
11. Tropical vibes inside and out – Arwana Perhentian Resort (Perhentian Besar)
There’s no way you don’t feel the tropical vibes of the island when checking into Arwana Perhentian Resort. Rooms here are paradise-inspired, with lots of green and crisp cool white – colours that put you in an instant good holiday mood! The look is tied with other modern tropical print accents like throw pillow, canvas and artificial Monstera plants. Can you tell that the island girl in me is absolutely sold?!
Truth be told, Arwana Perhentian Resort hasn’t always looked that good but a recent renovation has turned its rooms into what Pinterest dreams are made of. Rooms aside, you’ll find other convenient facilities within the resort such as a free-form pool along with a kids’ pool – this is probably where you’ll spend most of your time if not by the beach!
For religious purposes, Arwana Perhentian Resort also features a prayer hall and for diving fanatics, a diving centre sits within the property.
On days where you’ve got too much beach/pool time, why not settle down at their karaoke room for a fun session singing your lungs out? Others might want to make full use of the spa to achieve full relaxation, I don’t blame you though as I’d choose that too ;)!
12. Private balcony for every single room! – Perhentian Island Resort (Perhentian Besar)
Perhaps the best reason to choose Perhentian Besar over Perhentian Kecil is for its peacefulness away from the young backpacking crowd. And if you happen to be one who enjoys comfort and a little bit of luxury too, you might want to consider staying at Perhentian Island Resort – as its name suggests, this is the real OG!
Each room at the resort has its own private balcony so you can always step out to take in some fresh sea breeze. With an abundance of leisure activities, Perhentian Island Resort is deemed as a family-friendly option on the island! Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just a beginner at jumping in water, there are various underwater adventures planned for you too.
Now, if you’re here to relax, you’ll find delightful ways of doing so by the beach. Grab a good book of yours or a tropical drink from their Beach Front Cafe and wait until sunset, when the sky gets magical!
As day turns into night, settle down for a private BBQ dinner – an intimate beachfront experience for two! And if you book the beachfront premier room, know that you’re in for a treat! A whole new way of experiencing your usual morning blues…
13. A laid-back family-owned beach stay – Tuna Bay Island Resort (Perhentian Besar)
Nothing quite like supporting small businesses (especially in 2020!) and Tuna Bay Island Resort is one of them. This little family-owned beach stay is located on the bigger Perhentian Island (Perhentian Besar) and is fit for those looking for a no-frills holiday right by the ocean.
Former guests have given the resort high scores for its location. Just off the resort, you’ll find a beautiful reef filled with marine life! Imagine just being able to wake up, taking a few steps to reach the sea and come up close with black tip sharks, rays, turtles and so many more who join the list of visitors! What’s equally great, is the sunset you can take from the resort.
Comfortable rooms are on offer, with great ocean views for some, but no TV. Not that you will miss them anyway as daily recreational activities ensure there’s never a dull moment (unless you want one) – snorkeling trips to the nearby islands are organised by the resort, or you can opt to sign up for an exciting fishing trip too!
14. This is where you get real’ good food served – The Barat Perhentian Resort (Perhentian Besar)
The Barat is probably best known for its restaurant – guests love it so much that they wish there was room service! It’s rare to come across really good food when on an island and that’s understandable as most ingredients and resources are brought from the mainland and often not necessarily the freshest, but The Barat hooks you up with real good food when dinner rolls around – BBQ dinners and fresh seafood will simply complement your whole stay experience!
But since we know you’re not coming for the food, let’s take a look at their rooms. Cute wooden chalets are aligned along pathways with options for bigger groups and families. Seafront or seaview is what you might want to go for!
Outside, the half-mile of snow-white sand hosts the traditional gamut of snorkeling and diving, with lounging being yet another option!
15. The divers’ haven of West Malaysia – Tenggol Coral Beach Resort
There’s no shortage of beautiful diving sites in Malaysia but the problem is that it’s a fact and everyone knows this, and almost every diving fanatic knows about the most popular destinations like Sipadan for instance.
Thankfully, not all diving sites were created equally! Time to explore the underwater world of Tenggol Island instead – a hidden gem amongst the Terengganu islands!
Now, whether you’re after a tranquil beach moment or one filled with plenty of diving experiences to book in your log, Tenggol Coral Beach Resort will serve! The stay is of gold standard when it comes to proximity to the sea, comfort and affordability!
It is deemed to be one of Malaysia’s 5-star PADI Dive Resorts so say goodbye to the usual sleazy-looking diving hotels as this is where you get to enjoy a hot shower (yes there’s hot water!!) and air-conditioning after spending a day under water!
For those who aren’t after diving, rest assured as the stay also offers snorkeling packages (you won’t be left out). You can also visit the resort on a day pass for as low as RM 200 per person (inclusive of buffet lunch). The resort is fully Halal-certified too!
Are you ready to explore West Malaysia’s stunning islands on the east coast? There’s much more than the Perhentians! Tag your travel buddy and let them know where you’re staying next!