The briny air, azure sea and earthshine-gold beaches; is there anything quite as blissful as a stroll by the seashore? Want to be in on a secret? You don’t have to splurge on air tickets to enjoy a slice of tropical paradise! With islands peppering the coasts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, all it takes is one or a few rides before you are sipping on fresh coconut water - surrounded by nothing but nature 😍
Whether you rent the island in its entirety (yeap, an entire island!) or just one room, these getaways are arguably some of the best. You have to check out these secret getaways that are near to Singapore!
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1. Pulau Sugi
Home to the beautiful private beach getaway of Telunas Resort, Pulau Sugi epitomises the idyllic island life of long days on the beach with a book in one hand and a drink in the other.
The Maldivian-style overwater villas of Telunas Resort is the only accommodation on the island. It is made up of two parts – the private island sea villas and the beach resort chalets. Whichever you choose, the sights will always be stunning and the experience unforgettable, as you will wake up to views of the emerald sea while the cooling sea breeze lulls you at night?
The spacious sea villa has a large living room, a mini loft on the second floor and a bedroom facing the open sea with an attached balcony!
Credit: Telunas Resorts on Facebook
Be warned though: there is no Wifi, television and air-conditioning here. Your days can still be kept busy with stand-up paddleboarding, soaking up the sunshine with feet deep in sand and lounging around on the beach. But if all that isn't for you, head over to the open and outdoor spa, which will give you front row seats of the vast sea!
Getting there: A one-hour ferry ride from Harbourfront to Sekupang in Batam, followed by a 90-minute boat transfer arranged by the resort to Pulau Sugi.
Address: Pulau Sugi, Desa Mentangun, Kecamatan Moro, Sugie, Karimun, Kabupaten Karimun, Kepulauan Riau 29462, Indonesia
Contact: +62 811 7710951
[P.S Explore more stunning underrated islands in Indonesia that'll make you want to visit instantly!]
2. Cempedak Island
For those seeking a romantic island getaway, Cempedak is just right for two ❤ You can be assured of your own peaceful time with your partner as no kids are allowed on the island?
Credit: Cempedak Island on Facebook
This private island, just 26km south of Nikoi, extends over 42 acres of rainforest and is surrounded by secluded sandy beaches, all unpopulated except by silver-leaf monkeys, a family of sea otters, and the pangolin!
Credit: Ruby Hu on Facebook
Cempedak features unique architecture where bamboos are their main building materials, creating a feel of nature - even indoors! The villas each have a crescent shaped roof which helps capture cool breezes while releasing the hot air, thus keeping the villas cool without the need for air-conditioning. If the tropical climate gets too warm, feel free to just jump into the private plunge pools available in each villa!
Getting there: Take the one-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bintan Resorts followed by another hour taxi ride across Bintan to the jetty. A speedboat will then transport you to Cempedak Island in less than half an hour.
Address: Air Gelubi, Bintan Pesisir, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Contact: +62 811-7008-040
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3. Rawa Island
A popular choice for families on a weekend getaway, this beach beauty is as picturesque as its Google images. Offering stunning views, plenty of sunshine and a good time, Rawa Island is a seaside hotspot where water activities like snorkelling, windsurfing and kayaking are sure to fill your days.
For the less adventurous, follow the Island Walk Trail for a sunset stroll or recount the simple pleasures of going down water slides and splash around in the clear waters of Rawa.
This cute A-Frame chalet of Alang’s Rawa is situated right on the beach with waves lapping at your feet. Perched on stilts with a private balcony, the chalet features a double bed and are perfect for couples.
Getting there: Arrive at Mersing Jetty by bus, which takes an approximate 3 hours from Singapore, before continuing your journey by speedboat for another 20-minutes to Rawa Island. Rawa Island requires all visitors to pay a Government National & Marine Park fee of RM50 for non-Malaysians and RM20 for Malaysians. This is to be paid at the jetty before departure.
Address: Rawa Island, Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
Contact:+60 16-729 7383
4. Pulau Aur
Set on a scenic landscape fringed with lush tropical rainforest, Aur offers the charmingly rustic stay that only a small island can provide. Pulau Aur is without roads and is typical of a traditional Malay village as it retains its simple and humble island vibes.
Credit: Syok Pulau Mersing on Facebook
As part of the Johor Marine Park, Aur is home to an abundance of colourful corals, secluded lagoons and offshore pools plus an estimate twenty diving spots around the island. Aur is thus excellent for scuba diving and snorkelling so dive deep into the marine underworld to explore unique sea creatures living amongst the reefs!
Credit: Tourism Malaysia on Facebook
Do note Pulau Aur is pretty far from mainland Malaysia so its best to avoid visiting the island during the monsoon season (between November and March) where the waters will be too choppy for boats to operate. Scuba-diving and snorkelling are most favourable during the months of April to June.
Getting there: Take a three-hour coach ride from Textile Centre along Jalan Sultan to Mersing Bus Terminal. From Mersing Jetty, it is another three-hour ferry ride to Pulau Aur.
5. Nikoi Island
Live out your ultimate castaway dreams on the private island of Nikoi in Indonesia!
Away from the throngs of tourists, Nikoi is a tiny private island with only one hotel like Sugi and beaches made for your Instagram feed? Marvel over the sparkling waters gently rolling onto the pristine shores, listen to the tender lullaby of the waves and feel all your worries melt down to your toes and wash away out to sea. Just the idea of it is refreshing!
Nikoi Island can be rented as a whole or as individual beach houses. Like the other islands on this list where booking the entire place is possible, the cost can be quite a strained at about SGD$1,340 for the required minimum stay of two nights.
But for that price, you'll have access to 2 swimming pools, a wide selection of water sports like sailing and windsurfing, a cinema on the beach as well as rock climbing and tennis on top of all the food that will be provided?
Credit: Nikoi Island on Facebook
Despite its secluded location, Nikoi Island is usually fully booked months in advance. So if you’re interested, be sure to check for available dates fast!
Halal status: The restaurant’s menu is fixed daily and might not offer full halal options. However, the staff is always delighted to prepare halal meals and/or cater to any allergies or special dietary requirements when requested. Just an added note as well that the restaurant’s staff are mostly Muslims, and thus they are well versed in catering for halal meals.
Getting there: From Tanah Merah Terminal, take a two-hour ferry ride to Bintan Ferry Terminal, where a Nikoi staff will take you on an approximately 25-minute boat ride to the island.
Address: Teluk Bakau, Gunung Kijang, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Contact:+62 811-7008-040 (via WhatsApp)
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6. Pulau Sibu
Be mesmerized by Sibu’s vast golden sands, its superb snorkelling spots and its stunning view from the peak of hiking trails! The best part of any island vacation is the blissful feeling of escape from the city life 😍
Surrounded by coral reef-filled Marine Park, Pulau Sibu is actually a cluster of islands that consist of Sibu Besar, Sibu Tengah, Sibu Kukus and Sibu Hujung. Sibu is located in the same Marine Park as Rawa, and about as underdeveloped as Aur.
Credit: Rimba Resort , Pulau Sibu, Malaysia on Facebook
But who needs modern development when you can immerse yourself in the heart of nature!
Getting there: The jetty to Pulau Sibu is in Tanjung Leman, a three-hour drive from Singapore (and about 72km south of Mersing). Your booked accommodation on Sibu would have arranged for your boat transfer to your resort on the island.
7. Pulau Joyo
Have you ever considered ditching the city life to live on a secluded, cosy home far from anywhere else and surrounded by unobstructed views of crystal blue sea and powder white sand beaches? Well, the Indonesian island of Joyo may well be your ideal hideaway. The best part is that you can rent the entire island!
Of course, having an island to yourself is going to be expensive at about SGD$4,600 per night. You are also required to have at least 12 adults and stay a minimum of two nights. But if you want to splurge a little on a holiday with some friends and family, Pulau Joyo is a reasonable choice.
Credit: Joyo Island Resort on Facebook
Should you choose not to rent out the entire island, you can still enjoy a secluded and exclusive stay at any one of the “palace” which comes with their own section of the beach. These beach palaces, with rates starting from SGD$322 per night, boast of huge Balinese daybeds, soaring beamed ceilings and ornately carved artefacts 😌 If you prefer the outdoors, chill out by the sofa on the beach. It's perfect for you to just unwind and relax!
Getting There: Take a one-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pinang, where you will be met by the resort staff who will drive you to the resort’s private jetty about 1 hour and 20 minutes away. After that, it’s a 25-minute speedboat ride to finally reach Joyo.
Address: Pulau Joyo, Riau Islands, Indonesia
8. Pulau Karimun
A soft pink glow of the setting sun against a purple-tinged sky, sinking into a clear turquoise sea just over the horizon. This medley of paddle pop colours is not the remnants of your melting childhood ice-cream. It's the actual view you get when at Pulau Karimun 🤩
Credit: Januar D Januar D on Facebook
If you love to island-hop, there are plenty of nearby smaller islands like the charming Terkulai and Soreh for you to easily do that! But if you don't, there's really no need to venture out of the island as it is a seaside gem on the west of the Riau archipelago with beautiful clear water that is prime for swimming and snorkelling.
Getting there: A two-hour ferry ride from Harbourfront will easily reach Pulau Karimun.
9. Pulau Lang Tengah
Nestled in the Terengganu province is the small tranquil island of Lang Tengah. Okay, so technically, this island isn't near Singapore, but you still don't need a plane to get there! 😉
Credit: Lang Tengah Turtle Watch on Facebook
Not only is it fringed by white sands and shallow waters on its west coast, but this island is also home to the conservation site of Turtle Bay!
Credit: Lang Tengah Turtle Watch on Facebook
Lang Tengah (its somewhat fancy English translation is the Eagle in the Middle) is a largely untouched tropical island with coral reefs lining its seabed. Plunge into this island’s crystal-clear waters to explore the ocean’s wonders or sit by the beach to watch sea turtles nest and hatch.
If you’ve always wanted to give back to the community while travelling, you can also sign up to be a volunteer with the turtle watch to stop poaching activity on Lang Tengah!
Credit: Phalinn Ooi on Flickr
Getting there: Drive for about 7 hours to Kuala Terengganu (or take a direct flight!) then transfer to the Merang Jetty (45 mins car ride). From Merang Jetty, take a ferry to Pulau Lang Tengah, which takes 45 - 70 mins.
10. Pulau Kapas
Arguably one of Malaysia’s most gorgeous islands, Pulau Kapas’ shoreline is dotted with pale sands and clear waters. To catch the truly laid back vibes of island living, Kapas is the place to be with its offering of a peaceful and serene respite.
Credit: Amazing Terengganu on Facebook
You can go down to the depths of the Earth by snorkelling, but it's as great of a view at the top too! Take a hike and witness all the gorgeous nature this island has to offer☺️
Getting there: Find your way down to Merang Jetty in Terengganu. You can either drive, take private transport or travel by coach. From the jetty, Pulau Kapas is a mere 15-minute speedboat ride away. There are several boat operators so do scout around to get the cheapest deal.
[P.S Check out 9 breathtaking Malaysian island resorts even locals don't know about!]
Gorgeous beaches and beautiful marine life - for some private time with your loved ones! Hope you’re ready for some serious fun in the sun at these secret getaways 🥳