9 Breathtaking Malaysian Island Resorts So Hidden Even Locals Don't Know About


Daniel Mehta •  Sep 23, 2017

[Updated on 10 May 2022] Treasures are often more valuable when they’re harder to find, and these impossibly beautiful islands in Malaysia are exactly such treasures. You might have the power of Google at the end of your fingertips, but often you’ll need to know the secret islands in Malaysia you’re looking for to stumble upon something truly priceless. And in the spirit of finding the unknown, we’ve done the work for you! We’re happy to share these hidden island resorts in Malaysia that you should know about

Breathtaking Malaysian Island Resorts

1. Rawa Island Resort, Rawa Island, Johor

Best time to visit: March until October Monsoon season: December until January Rawa Island may ring a little familiar to you, but did you know there are only two resorts on the privately-owned island off the coast of Mersing, Johor? As opposed to the cheaper Alang Rawa Resort catered to solo travellers and backpackers, Rawa Island Resort is a family-friendly, full-service resort with 77 rooms. This hidden resort in Johor is perfect for families, especially if you have young children! It has a massive slide right on the beach and if you feel like taking a swim, you can snorkel and swim with the fishes and corals just a few meters from the beach. The resort also has a spa for couples who need to unwind and relax in serenity. It’s easily accessible but secluded enough to give you time and space for you and your loved ones. #HHWT Tip: You can read more about Rawa Island Resort here! Rawa Island ResortInstagram

2. Pom Pom Island Resort, Semporna, Sabah

Best time to visit: Open all year round, but expect rainy days, rough seas or boat delays during monsoon season Monsoon season: June to August and October to December A 5-star dive-resort, Pom Pom Island Resort is one of the most beautiful hidden resorts in Sabah. The island is so small that it only takes an hour to walk around the entire island! It’s a 45-minute boat ride from the Sabahan coast, and once you reach its white sand and blue waters, be prepared to be feeling like you don’t wanna leave! Aside from diving and snorkelling in one of the most beautiful parts of the ocean in the world, there’s also a yachting service that can take you on a cruise to neighbouring islands. And it truly doesn’t get any more secluded and private being with your loved one in the middle of the wide expanse of the turquoise ocean. In addition, the island runs a sea turtle conservation program in collaboration with the World Wildlife Foundation and the Sabah Wildlife Department. If you're lucky, you may be able to see them release green turtle hatchlings into the sea! Pom Pom Island Resort Instagram

3. Batu Batu Resort, Tengah Island, Johor

Best time to visit: Open all year round, but expect rainy days, rough seas or boat delays during monsoon season Monsoon season: December until February (northeast monsoon) Can’t afford to buy a private island? That’s alright, try the next best thing then; stay in a resort located on one! Batu Batu Resort is the only resort on the otherwise uninhabited island called Tengah Island. It’s located right in the middle of Pulau Besar and Pulau Hujong. The resort has 20 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom villas with a 270-degree view from its open-sided pavilion restaurant. On top of that, you’ll have access to its eight private beaches and a 3km stretch of white sandy beach right in front of the resort! Batu Batu ResortInstagram

4. Gem Island Resort and Spa, Marang, Terengganu

Best time to visit: April until August Monsoon season: September until March (do note that the resort will be closed during the monsoon season) The East Coast of Terengganu is littered with resorts and islands, but one of its hidden (and aptly named!) gems is Gem Island Resort and Spa. Beautifully located in a Marine Conservation Park with crystal clear waters, it also boasts the concept of “one island one resort”. A mere 15-minute boat ride from Marang Jetty, Terengganu, this private island getaway has 45 seafront villas wrapped around the coastlines of the tiny gem of an island called Pulau Gemia. The resort may have rather basic features and services, but it’s definitely one of the more affordable resorts on this list. #HHWT Tip: It’s a tiny island with basic infrastructure, so be prepared for their daily scheduled 3-hour electricity break from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM Gem Island Resort & SpaInstagram

5. The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Redang Island, Terengganu

Best time to visit: Open all year round, but expect rainy days during the monsoon season Monsoon season: End-October until February A bespoke private beach resort, The Taaras Beach and Spa resort is located at Redang Island, one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. Despite being in an increasingly popular destination, it’s in fact quietly tucked away and hidden from the busier parts of the island. This stylish resort has its own private beach and a 2km jungle trekking trail that leads to small streams and ponds with catfish. If you’re lucky, you might just come across a kancil or two! And in the spirit of leaving the obvious for last, if you’re a diving nut, this place would be perfect for you! It doesn’t get any better diving in pristine waters in the day and going back to a serene, secluded resort for dinner at night. P.S. You can now travel directly to Redang from Singapore via airplane!The Taaras Beach & Spa ResortInstagram

6. Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

Best time to visit: Open all year round, but expect rainy days during monsoon season Monsoon season: November until December If you’re looking for a secluded resort but don’t want to go through the trouble of long, winding trips, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges might be just for you! A mere 15-minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, the luxury resort is located in the small, private island of Manukan. This 5-star resort in Sabah provides a great backdrop for romance and celebration, and most definitely the perfect getaway for couples. Upon request, the internationally trained chef will cater to your dietary needs in your choice of either the usual candlelight dinner or a special meal in a cabana on the beach. #HHWT Tip: To cut your travelling time, take the ferry from Sutera Harbour as it’s nearer to Manukan Island. Sutera Sanctuary LodgesInstagram

7. Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Update: As of September 2020, Bunga Raya Island Resort is temporarily closed for renovations Located in Manukan’s larger neighbouring Gaya Island, the Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa is tucked in a hidden bay just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. This award-winning resort has 48 timber villas with traditional Bornean design, all cocooned adjacent to a lush rainforest. For those who love their privacy, you can opt to stay in their private villas with its own balcony and plunge pool. But the resort’s most exclusive villa is hidden even further away with views of both the tropical jungle and the sea. The best part of the massive 630sqm villa? It comes with your very own housekeeper, butler and chef! Bunga Raya Island Resort and SpaInstagram

8. JapaMala Resort, Tioman Island, Pahang

Best time to visit: Open all year round, but expect rainy days during the monsoon season Monsoon season: November until February Although JapaMala Resort in Tioman Island has been around for a number of years, it remains relatively unknown to many locals. It is, however, a favourite among many foreigners who are return visitors to this luxurious resort. The JapaMala Resort's rustic yet luxurious designed is inspired by nature on which the resort was built on. The developers took ten years to carefully sculpt the resort to the beauty that it is now, with as minimal damage as possible to the land, plants and animals ❤️ Each room or sarang (translates to 'nest') is made from timber that was recycled from local kampungs (village) and equipped with luxurious designs and decor inspired by mother nature. Some selected rooms even have their very own private plunge pools, and wooden decks for you to enjoy your privacy in comfort. You'll also find plenty of bamboo in their design which was ethically sourced and bought from the Orang Asli (Malaysia's Indigenous Tribes), and their wooden fixtures were all handmade by the island's own craftsmen. JapaMala ResortInstagram

9. Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Best time to visit: February until August Monsoon season: September until January (do note that the resort will be closed during the monsoon season) Located off the coast of Borneo is the elegant and chic Gaya Island Resort. Set amidst lush tropical jungle with panoramic views of the South China Sea, this is definitely a resort for the ultimate relaxation getaway ? Each villa has been designed with modern decorations with a touch of wood and greens, giving you a calm and peaceful atmosphere. There are plenty of activities you could do at the resort, from jungle trekking, snorkelling, island hopping or just simply enjoy a relaxing day at their serene and tranquil spa. Head up to their pool lounge and you can even enjoy a view of Mount Kinabalu from the sun deck! Important Note: The resort has been temporarily closed since 2020.Gaya Island ResortInstagram With white sandy beaches and turquoise waters calling your name, it's time to start planning for your next beach getaway in Malaysia!