Whether you’re a nature lover, wildlife enthusiast, conservationist or simply a seeker of comfort, an uninterrupted getaway at a luxury island resort is something that everyone craves. Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the best and most affordable options for nature-friendly luxury resorts, especially those located on its many mesmerising islands.
Some of these island and beach resorts in Malaysia have gone the extra mile to provide the utmost luxury without disturbing the ecological balance. Additionally, they offer activities that educate and make you more aware of the environment. After all, what is better than a luxury getaway where you bring home more knowledge?
While some island resorts in Malaysia are perfect for couples, others are kid-friendly. Confused about which one to pick for a tranquil holiday over the next long weekend? We’ve got you covered.
12 best island resorts in Malaysia for your next luxury vacation
The Danna, Langkawi
Sitting pretty at the doorstep of some of Langkawi’s major attractions — the SkyBridge, Seven Wells Waterfall, and the Oriental Village, the Danna is a majestic addition to the city’s prime beachfront. Blending colonial architecture with contemporary minimalism, the 125-room luxury property works its whimsical magic, on a canvas of creams, beiges, and other neutral palettes. The vast central courtyard is embellished with landscaped greenery and fish ponds, thus contributing to a feeling of tranquillity. The soaring ceilings add to the ambience while its three-tier pool — the largest infinity pool on the island — keeps you happily cocooned in vacation mode. Relaxing cabanas, slouchy chairs, and beanbags line the sea-facing al-fresco space.
The Danna’s main restaurant, Planter’s, serves excellent Mediterranean, European-inspired, and local cuisine which can be enjoyed both indoors or on the terrace. The rooms come with dark wood interiors and a largely natural colour scheme. There’s also an outdoor hot tub and a children’s pool. Inside, you’ll also find a spa with nine treatment rooms, a fitness room, a games room with billiards, snooker, and board games, as well as a library.
Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo
An embodiment of the brand’s signature aesthetic with its white marble, heavy wooden furniture and contemporary art, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort finds itself rebelliously jutting out into its own peninsula in the Borneo region of Malaysia. The resort is divided into two sections for guests to enjoy: Rooms in the Kinabalu Wing face either the sea or mountains; while those in the Tanjung Wing face only the sea. The facilities at this Shangri-La property extend beyond the regular secluded beach and manorial central block. Think sunrise yoga, kayaking lessons, and the extremely fun, coconut bowling.
Attendees can choose from a variety of gastronomic experiences available within the premise. Shang Palace, the resort’s Chinese eatery, and Peppino’s, the Italian alternative, offer formal dining, while the lively cooking stations of Café TATU are more casual. The most enjoyable, however, is Coco Joe’s: a zany, al fresco restaurant serving grills, huge mains, cocktails, and unhindered sea views.
The St. Regis Langkawi
Unparalleled luxury takes a new form with the St. Regis’s Langkawi property. Nestled on the beachside island town of Kuah, the massive architectural marvel impresses with its Middle Eastern-inspired white walls and wooden arches. Inside, the decor of The Mansion feels reminiscent of a cool European city hotel with high ceilings, white lounges, and local art. The main highlight, however, is the Kayu Puti: a wooden beach house built over the ocean, and designed by renowned architect Bill Bensley. International antiques, seashells, and throne-like chairs with peacock feathers are found inside, with the structure serving as a prime spot for sunset cocktails.
The resort’s Pantai Grill offers wood-fired cooking on the sand, offering delicacies like steaks and snapper, ceviche, and tacos. Kayu Puti’s innovative Asian-inspired cuisine, especially signature seafood dishes such as the parmesan-crusted grouper are audience favourites. Breakfast at L’Orangerie has everything from croissants and champagne to Chinese dumplings, with Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes on the menu, such as shakshuka.
Four Seasons Resort Langkawi
Cleverly tucked away within a UNESCO World Geopark — Southeast Asia’s first, Langkawi’s Four Seasons Resort is an enigmatic space sandwiched between lush thickets of landscaped greenery, limestone rock formations, and powder-white sands of their own private beach. Spread amidst 48 acres of land, the luxury property is lined with mangroves, winding rivers, and ancient limestone caves for guests to discover. Be it the beachfront or forest-facing rooms, the resort is an eclectic mix of Moorish-inspired architecture and traditional Malay-style pavilions. The expansive wood-beamed ceilings and revived teak floors with bold accents of blues and teals enliven the space, creating an island-side oasis for luxury lovers.
The sprawling Geo Spa is perhaps the most innovative facility on the property, allowing guests to indulge in a range of treatments, such as the Marine Flora Immersion ritual, which is said to revitalise the lymphatic and immune systems. After concluding a relaxing spa session, one can enjoy tropical cocktails and fusion snacks by the Rhu Bar, a Middle Eastern-inspired lounge and home to the best sunset-viewing spot at the Four Seasons.
Ambong-Ambong Rainforest Retreat, Langkawi
Dreaming about a luxury stay surrounded by islands while in a rainforest? Ambong-Ambong Rainforest Retreat is your place to be. Its exotic villas are based around a sustainable and tropical-chic theme, complete with private pools and endless sunrise and sunset views.
You can spend a relaxing session at its spa, which provides healing based on the seven chakras by using “traditions of the Malaysian indigenous tribes,” or indulge in the heritage-filled cooking and dining experiences by savouring delectable Malay dishes.
Taking things to another level is their UNESCO Geopark Experiences, wherein you can go on an informative and interesting tour through the mangrove forests.
Known as Permata Kedah by locals, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands and can be reached in many ways from Singapore. The fastest option to reach the tranquil island is by direct flight, which takes around 1.5 hours. However, other methods such as train, bus or ferry can also take you there.
Batu Batu Resort, Johor
Batu-Batu Resort – located on Tengah Island – is well known for blending nature conservation with luxury.
Described as “an unspoilt island retreat with an ecological ethos and conviction that tourism can support biodiversity and local communities,” Batu-Batu Resort has 20 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom villas that are designed to showcase traditional Malaysian architecture. These luxurious abodes come with balconies overlooking the tranquil sea or the jungles and are fitted with glass doors so you’ll enjoy infinite views of nature from the comfort of your plush, cosy bed. If you’re bringing children, some rooms come with little enclosures that house bunk beds too.
Apart from relaxing in the lap of nature, you can partake in their conservation activities and contribute to the environment as well. The main restaurant offers a 270-degree view of the natural surroundings and scrumptious seafood options, which are all made fresh with locally sourced ingredients. Their fresh grilled snapper in banana leaf is especially popular and is prepared using authentic Malaysian-style chilli paste. A bakery is also on hand to provide an array of desserts for those with an insatiable sweet tooth.
Johor can be reached by road from Singapore in under two hours if traffic conditions are favourable, so expect to get there in no time at all.
Gaya Island Resort, Sabah
Besides offering mesmerising views of the sea and rainforests to guests staying in its villas, Gaya Island Resort has a special property called the Spa Village. Here, the ethos is “It’s not just a place, it’s a philosophy,” so expect healing therapies that involve authentic local ingredients. Its unique scrubs and practices bring ancient traditions alive while establishing a balance between the body and soul.
Other than the spa, there is an array of experiences to choose from; set out on an intriguing marine expedition or go on nature trails amid the exquisite flora and fauna through mangroves, or spot the red giant flying squirrels. You can also visit their Marine Centre to know more about endangered marine life, turtle rescue, and coral reef restoration.
After an informative day out, you can choose to dine at either Fisherman’s Cove for seafood-themed dishes, or Omakase, a two-storey Japanese restaurant that’s perched on a hillside with a stunning view of Malohom Bay and Mount Kinabalu. Arrange a special private dinner for your special someone by the sea if you’re celebrating a special occasion too.
To reach this haven located at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, you can take a direct flight that’s approximately two hours and 35 minutes.
Japamala Resort by Samadhi, Tioman Island
Based on rustic-luxe design philosophy, their villas — or ‘Sarangs’, as called by them — speak of the wilderness, amidst which they are built. As they have been cautious enough to not disrupt the ecological balance by preserving the surrounding trees or rocks, each villa is uniquely different.
Their various ‘chalets’ and ‘Sarangs’ include Treetop Chalets, Seacliff Chalets, Beach Sarang, Luxe Treetop Sarang, Jungle Luxe Sarang, Hillside Sarang, Seaview Sarang and Penghulu’s House, each with its own charm and view.
If you wish to explore the marine wilderness, you can try scuba diving, especially at night for a thrilling adventure. Boat excursions and jungle trekking options are also available. Want to soak in the romance while you’re here? Head to the romantic sunset viewpoint with your special someone for some alone time.
The resort arranges personal transfers between Mersing Jetty, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It takes around two hours from Mersing Jetty via a public ferry and nearly four hours by flight from Kuala Lumpur. However, buses take longer — around eight to nine hours.
Rawa Island Resort, Johor
Located within the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park is this breathtaking island resort, wherein you can get one of the best marine life experiences. The island gets its name ‘Rawa’ from the informal Malay word for white dove.
You can stay in the spacious rooms categorised as Hillside Deluxe, Beachview/Beachfront Chalet, Waterfront Bungalow and Frangipani Villa, depending on your choice of aesthetics. Each has a gorgeous view of lush jungles, turquoise waters, or silver sand.
Their spa is also not just about a relaxing massage or a rejuvenating plunge. Here, infinite views of the South China Sea and a living tree inside the spa area bring the outdoors within, immersing you in a wave of tranquillity.
To explore the local marine life, choose from one of their many diving options. A scuba diving course is also on hand should you wish to pick up the sport, and you can do so at their PADI Five-Star Scuba Diving Instructor Development Center.
When it comes time to eat and drink, enjoy a lavish spread from the various international and local cuisines and fresh tropical fruit that are offered at their buffet restaurant.
Pangkor Laut Resort, Perak
Set around 5km from the west coast of Malaysia on a private island is the Pangkor Laut Resort, along the Malacca Straits.
The stunning property has seven villa and suite categories to choose from — Garden Villa, Hill Villa, Beach Villa, Sea Villa, Spa Villa, Suria and Purnama Suite and Pavarotti Suite.
Named after the famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti, the latter was named after it was rumoured that the artist fell in love with Pangkor Laut. This two-bedroom suite has everything you’ll need for a comfortable and luxurious vacation, and besides majestic rooms and views of the sea and rainforests, also promises a huge open-air bathing space.
With seven different dining options, this island resort takes the gastronomic experience to another level. One of its restaurants, Uncle Lim’s Kitchen, is recommended for Nyonya and Hock Chew Chinese-style home cooking. It is named after the chef who has been associated with the resort since the day it was established. Don’t miss dining at their Royal Bay Beach Club on the terrace either, which offers infinity pool views and exotic Asian dishes to feast upon.
Pangkor Laut can be reached by Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and the resort provides car transfers to their office on Marina Island, Pangkor and a speedboat ride from there to the resort. From Singapore, fly either via Firefly or Malindo Air to the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh, and then hop on a 90-minute private car or taxi transfer to Pangkor Laut Resort’s office at Marina Island Pangkor, followed by a speedboat transfer to Pangkor Laut Resort.[myaffiliate type="normal" button_name="Book here" url="https://bit.ly/3ITsVTA"center" class="affiliate-six"]
Gem Island Resort & Spa, Terengganu
Whether you are travelling solo, with your family, a special someone, or a group of friends, you can customise your package with the various offers provided by this beautiful island resort. For those who are fond of a perfectly organised trip, the Uniquely Tailored Experience option will help you tailor your stay sightseeing options, and meals according to your preference.
Besides Premiere Villas and Water Villas, Gem Island Resort & Spa’s two-storey Hideaway Suites and Hideaway Villas can prove to be one of the cosiest options, especially since they’re swathed by local fauna.
Their restaurant, which sits along the coastline, offers delectable Asian and Western cuisines and some of the finest wines.
Located at the Pulau Gemia islands in the town of Marang, the resort can be reached from Marang Jetty, which is accessible from Singapore by bus via a 10-hour drive. If you opt for a flight, it takes around 30 minutes from the Kuala Terengganu Airport.
Rebak Island Resort & Marina, Langkawi
Nestled amid rich greens on a private island is this resort by Vivanta, where each of its suites exudes rich Malaysian culture and architecture with timber finishing and spacious balconies overlooking the sea or the forests.
Here, the island resort offers various activities and entertainment options, including archery classes, cooking classes, darts, karaoke, water sports, kids’ club, themed dinners and temporary art galleries, making it a beautiful place to tickle the artist or the adventure seeker in you? Additionally, while you unwind, your little ones are taken care of as they provide babysitting services on request.
The island resort in Malaysia also features exotic restaurants and bars serving delicious Asian and continental dishes, with the Strait’s Grill providing some freshly caught seafood for discerning gourmands. With three bars on the site, you can decide whether to try their selected wines or refreshing cocktails.
To get to Langkawi Airport from Singapore, take a direct flight via AirAsia or Scoot. Langkawi Airport is around 8km from the Cenang Port Jetty, which is nearly seven minutes by boat from the resort.[myaffiliate type="normal" button_name="Book here" url="https://bit.ly/3wcbJRt"left" class="affiliate-eight"]
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(Main and featured image credit: Nirian/Getty Images)