With almost 900 islands – 878 to be exact – Malaysia has plenty of offshore attractions to compete with the best destinations in its peninsular mainland. West coast isles like Penang and Langkawi offer a compelling blend of cuisine, culture and luxury, while east coast ones are more rugged and remote, with diving, hiking and edge-of-the-map relaxation all vital reasons to visit. Escape the urban buzz of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur with a short break on Pulau Redang. Regular ferries run to the rugged, forested island from Kuala Terengganu or nearby Merang on Malaysia’s east coast (‘KT’ also has regular flights to ‘KL’). Sunday to Thursday accommodation rates are good value for a combination of lazy days on Redang’s arcing beaches and regular opportunities for snorkelling and diving. Stay at the Redang Kalong Resort (redangkalong.com) or Wisana Village (wisanaredang.com) to fast-track to a relaxed island state of mind.
Most travellers visit Tioman for its marine attractions – the island offers some of Malaysia’s most accessible diving and snorkelling – but land-based discovery of Tioman’s tangled jungle is also rewarding. Wildlife is relatively plentiful, and an island full of trails provides challenge and diversity. The meandering 7km Tekek to Juara Jungle Walk negotiates Tioman’s forested interior, while the Asah Waterfall Trek best commences with a boat ride to Mukut on the island’s southern coast. During evenings, Pulau Tioman’s laid-back backpacker vibe provides plenty of opportunity to relax and recharge after a busy day trailblazing in the island’s more rugged interior.