[Updated 3rd June 2022]
You don't need to travel to the Maldives to admire its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. The truth is, there are many beautiful islands in Malaysia to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea! If snorkelling is one of your favourite things to do, there's an abundance of snorkelling spots in Malaysia that you should visit at least once. To see it for yourself, check out our list and get inspired to plan your next beach getaway!
1. Pulau Sipadan, Sabah
Best time to visit Pulau Sipadan: From May to October
Just off Semporna in Sabah, Pulau Sipadan (Sipadan Island) is one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. This scenic paradise is known for its world-class diversity of marine life. Hence, it's not surprising to know that scuba divers and underwater photographers from all around the world have Sipadan on the top of their bucket list!
However, Pulau Sipadan isn't just a gorgeous place for divers. Many travellers would visit this scenic island for the ultimate snorkeling experience. Do note that you need to apply for a permit before snorkeling in Pulau Sipadan and it's only limited to 120 snorkelers per day.
2. Pulau Redang, Terengganu
Best time to visit Pulau Redang: Between late March and September
There's so much to discover in Pulau Redang (Redang Island), which has a mix of everything you need, ranging from luxury accommodation to myriad island activities. Some might say that Pulau Redang is slightly more developed compared to the other nearby islands so expect to see many low-rise concrete accommodations instead of the standard wooden chalets.
Snorkelers will have a blast exploring Pulau Redang, and there's no doubt about it. With many tour operators organising multiple snorkeling trips daily, sun-seekers can expect to be taken to different snorkeling spots around Pulau Redang that boast special highlights of its own.
3. Pulau Tioman, Pahang
Best time to visit Pulau Tioman: From March to October
Just 56km off the Pahang coast lies Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island). This scenic paradise is so beautiful that you wouldn't think that it was used as a monsoon shelter for fishermen, pirates, merchant ships and naval ships back in the days. Today, this idyllic nature reserve is a stunning attraction to just about anyone who likes a laid-back environment that is surrounded by misty mountains and clear waters.
There are many tour operators in Pulau Tioman that offers snorkeling trips for travellers. Most packages would start at RM75 per person, but you can also rent a mask and snorkel for approximately RM10 per day. Since Pulau Tioman is surrounded by shallow reefs, a boat ride is not necessary and you can just step into the ocean from the beach.
4. Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu
Best time to visit Pulau Perhentian: From March to November
The main islands of Pulau Perhentian (Perhentian Island) include Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Since the island is famous for its soft sands and turquoise waters, most travellers would spend the night on these serene islands.
The abundance of coral reefs surrounding the island will surely amaze you! Many marine animals come out for a bit of sunshine too. If you enjoy swimming among the fishes and the hatchback turtles, you can look forward to having a good snorkeling session in Pulau Perhentian.
5. Mabul Island, Sabah
Best time to visit Mabul Island: From late March to October
If you've been yearning to explore the islands in East Malaysia, start with Pulau Mabul (Mabul Island)! The moment you step into your accommodation, you'll be welcomed by swaying coconut trees, lapping waves, and friendly smies.
Recognised as one of the best snorkeling sites in Sabah, most visitors would put on their gears to see the colourful coral reefs and fishes. Pulau Mabul also offers scuba diving trips if you feel like exploring deeper into the beautiful azure waters.
6. Pulau Rawa, Johor
Best time to visit Pulau Rawa: From March to September
Ask any Johorean or Singaporean and they're likely to be familiar with Pulau Rawa (Rawa Island). And the truth is, many Malaysians have yet to visit this beautiful island that's as picturesque as they come.
Offering stunning views and warm sunshine, Pulau Rawa is a seaside hotspot where water activities like snorkeling will turn your vacation into an experience to remember. If this will be your first attempt at snorkeling, some tour operators and resorts offer guided snorkeling session, so you won't have to brave the beautiful waters on your own. For other things to do in Pulau Rawa, you can hike around the island or follow the Island Walk Trail to catch the sunset.
7. Pulau Kapas, Terengganu
Best time to visit Pulau Kapas: From April to August
Compared to other stunning islands in Malaysia, Pulau Kapas is fairly underdeveloped and retains its laid-back island charm with small chalets and easy-going pace. If you’re planning to take a break from a busy workweek, the serene Pulau Kapas will make you forget about the unanswered emails you left behind.
Pulau Kapas is a truly tranquil island paradise. Besides appreciating its relaxing vibes, there are plenty of things to do in Pulau Kapas and that includes snorkeling. All you need to do is take a few steps into the water and you’ll find yourself swimming with the fishes.
8. Pulau Langkawi, Kedah
Best time to visit Pulau Langkawi: From December to February
Made up of 99 islands on the northwestern coast of Malaysia, Langkawi Islandis a sunny tropical paradise and a charming spot for an exciting vacation. Apart from their jungle-clad hills, sandy beaches and duty-free chocolate, snorkelling in the crystal clear waters should definitely be on your list! You'll even get to see exotic coral reefs and marine life like moray eels, clownfish, and baby reef sharks. Some popular snorkelling spots here include the Pulau Payar Marine Park and Pulau Beras Basah! 🥰
9. Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah
Best time to visit Tun Sakaran Marine Park: From April to June
Located at Pulau Sibuan, the calm waters and high visibility in this site makes it PERFECT for snorkelling adventures. Come face to face with sea turtles, various reef fish and more - the marine park itself has over 700 different species of sea life; a visit here won't disappoint! 😍
10. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah
Best time to visit Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park: From March to October
We're adding one more spot from Sabah, because we can't get enough of their gorgeous waters! Across the waters from Kota Kinabalu is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (also known as TAR Marine Park). The marine park is made up of five islands and is known for its numerous snorkelling and diving sites with reefs home to hundreds of marine species. Magnificent sharks, turtles and rays also frequent the area, and you might get to see them too! 😉
...And there you have it! These are just some of the best islands that are perfect for snorkeling in Malaysia. If you're planning to go on a relaxing island getaway, check out our recommended reads to inspire your next trip!
- 12 Beautiful Islands To Visit In Malaysia (Besides Langkawi And Redang)
- 7 Romantic Beach Chalets In Malaysia (At Every Budget)
- Lankayan Island: Discover The Beauty Of This Jewel-Shaped Island In Sabah