Honeymoon trends among jet setters have changed over the years. Stays in European castles and Caribbean tropical islands are a thing of the past. Today’s couples are seeking new ways to celebrate their union as well as new destinations. You can’t go wrong in seeking Malaysia as a honeymoon destination given the current strength of the US dollar against the ringgit and so many beautiful locations in the country to choose from. Whatever your taste, here are Malaysia’s top ten honeymoon spots, as in the opinion of the writer.
No 1. Pangkor Laut Island, Perak
“I almost cried when I saw how beautiful God has made this paradise.” So said world-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti of Pangkor Laut Island, who performed at the opening of the island’s exclusive resort in 1994. Then, in 1999, Conde Naste magazine voted this privately owned retreat as one of the top ten in the world. The island’s Emerald Bay, with its superb sands and water, is a pure paradise for couples to swim and sunbathe. The beach is also where Spencer Chapman made his escape in a submarine from the Japanese during World War II, as recounted in his best-selling novel “The Jungle Is Neutral.” The waters of Coral Beach are an underwater splendour with its magnificent coral reefs, while Royal Bay is perfect for windsurfing. Luxurious chalets on the island are a mix of Malay and Balinese architecture, and are romantically set out into the sea or on the hillside. Couples can expect only the best facilities to pamper them, such as jacuzzi, sauna, spa and posh restaurants. Pangkor Laut Island is a forty-minute boat ride from the coastal town of Lumut in Perak State. If money is no object, you can charter an airplane to land on neighbouring Pangkor Island and from there take a 15-minute boat ride across.
No. 2 Tioman Island, Pahang
In 1970, Time magazine ranked Tioman Island as one of the best ten “desert island escapes” in the world. A volcanic outcrop with several settlements, Tioman boasts of a landscape that is indeed spectacular. Lush jungles from its central mountain creep down to the white-coral, sandy beaches hugging the shores, while in the south, the twin peaks of Nenek Si Mukut and Batu Sirau rise to the clouds. Nearby, the Mukut Waterfall cascades down a granite peak. Lovers will be spoiled for choice in selecting a beach for themselves. For quiet strolls, there are trails leading from Tekek, the main settlement, northward to Salang and southward to Genting. For soft adventure, take the cross-island trail from Tekek to Juara on the east coast. Tioman is also a premier diving and snorkelling destination, and there are PADI dive centres in many hotels. For a romantic evening, enjoy a seafood dinner at one of the sea-front restaurants beneath casuarinas in the villages. A five-star hotel in Tekek allows couples to indulge in the pleasures of life.
No. 3 Langkawi Island, Kedah
On the fabled island of Langkawi, there are many areas where lovers can find ultimate peace and privacy. Two favourite enclaves for honeymooners are Datai Bay and Tanjung Rhu. The former is tucked in the northwest corner of Langkawi, and is home to two sophisticated resorts overflowing with luxury, such as spas and décor of volcanic rock. There are exclusive beaches for guests, and from the hotel balcony, newlyweds can admire the awe-inspiring view of the jewel-like sea towards Thailand. Twenty kilometres away, Tanjung Rhu (meaning “Casuarina Bay”) is set in a white-sand cove sheltered by a promontory. It offers many romantic settings for couples to enjoy. Fantastic beaches look out to the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. At low tide, couples can stroll to the islands of Pulau Pasir and Pulau Gasing. In the nearby mangrove swamp, eagles can be fed by hand. To shop like mad for your new home, pop over to Kuah, where there are lots of duty-free bargains.
No. 4 Batu Ferringhi, Penang
Batu Ferringhi, on the northern coastline of Penang Island is a honeymoon classic. The name means “Foreigner’s Rock” and alludes to the visits by important personalities in historical times. Portuguese admiral Alfonso D’Albuquerque stopped at Batu Ferringhi in 1511 before sailing southward to conquer Malacca; St. Francis Xavier made a stopover in 1545; and Captain James Lancaster, founder of the East India Company, came ashore in 1600. Today, honeymooners can choose from sophisticated resorts, action-packed nightlife or exciting watersports along this stretch of beautiful and vibrant beach. On a clear day, take in the sight of a rock outcrop aptly named Lovers Isle. Or browse in the many art galleries and antique shops. When the sun has set, enjoy a delicious ikan bakar (grilled fish) dinner in the alfresco restaurants or snap up some trinkets from the bustling sidewalk bazaar. For sightseeing, take a memorable stroll through the labyrinth of alleys and stress in the old quarter of Georgetown, where history peeps from every nook and cranny.
No. 5 Cameron Highlands, Pahang
For the outdoorsy couple, Cameron Highlands is an excellent destination for a cool and quiet honeymoon. Malaysia’s premier hill resort, Cameron Highlands is located between 4,900 to 5,900 metres above sea level on the rugged Titiwangsa Range. Romantic places are plentiful. Stroll through rose gardens or nurseries with brightly coloured flowers. Feed your loved one fresh strawberries! Enjoy scones and hot tea with a breathing taking view of the terraced slopes of tea estates. Easy-to-walk trails branch to the nearby hills from Tanah Rata, the main township, to permit bird-watching opportunities. At night, you can choose to curl up by a roaring fireside in a Tudor cottage or enjoy a piping hot steamboat dinner. Four-star hotels are available. Access to Cameron Highlands by a winding road from Tapah (in Perak State) takes slightly more than an hour.
No. 6 Santubong Peninsula, Sarawak
Located 35 km from Kuching, the capital of Sarawak State, Santubong Peninsula provides a unique blend of beautiful beaches and interesting cultural sights. Damai Beach, with Gunung Santubong rising 810 metres to provide a sentimental backdrop, is simply stunning. Five- and four-star hotels mollycoddle honeymooners, who can be as active or sedentary as they so desire. They can enjoy a memorable river cruise up the Salak River. Or watch a dramatic sunrise with the conical peak of Santubong to one side and fishing boats and islands on the other. For sightseeing, go on a tour of Sarawak Cultural Village at the foot of Santubung. This is a “living museum:” with live-in residents from the major ethnic groups who demonstrate handicraft making and living skills in their traditional houses.
No. 7 Tanjung Aru, Sabah
Tanjung Aru is a dazzling white beach of par excellence, which is only fifteen minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah State. There are plenty of activities to keep newlyweds occupied. Go horse-back riding on the beach. Stroll hand-in-hand in the charming Prince Philip Park. Take a sunset cruise around the offshore islands aboard a Bugis schooner or go deep-sea fishing in the South China Sea. Enjoy a glass-bottom boat trip to Tuanku Abdul Rahman Park to see coral reefs that are beautiful beyond imagination. All five islands in the park also have excellent beaches and forests with walking trails. For accommodation, a five-star resort speaks of days and nights that honeymooners will cherish forever.
No. 8 Redang Island, Terengganu
A quintessential tropical paradise, Redang Island gives lovers a chance to do as little as possible or seek the thrills of its underwater Gardens of Eden. Winner of Tourism Malaysia’s “Best Tourist Attraction Award 1994/5”, Redang has both four- and three-star hotels as well as an 18-hole golf course. Diving is spectacular. The wrecks of World War II warships H.M.S. Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse are found in the crystal clear waters around Redang. Couples can turn sun-worshippers on the lovely Pasir Panjang Beach. The nearby islets of Pulau Pinang and Pulau Ekor Tebu provide excellent snorkelling. Redang Island is located 45km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, capital of Terengganu State.
No. 9 Cherating, Pahang
Once a back-packers’ paradise, Cherating has its own unique personality. Its endless palm-shaded beach is dotted with quaint huts of fisherfolk. The rustic atmosphere soothes the senses and the villagers are extremely friendly. The cottage industry is active, and honeymooners can create their own batik or learn the art of weaving pandanus leaves into hats and baskets. A special attraction is to share a unique experience of watching green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs at Pantai Chendor during the breeding season from July to September. The jewel in the crown of Cherating is Club Mediterranee but luxury four-star hotels are also available. Cherating is located 30km north of Kuantan, capital of Pahang State.
No. 10 Genting Highlands, Pahang
Perched atop the misty Ulu Kali Mountains at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres high, Genting Highlands offers Las-Vegas-cum-Disneyland style of entertainment. Drop by the Casino de Genting to test your luck as newly weds at the slot machines and games tables. Take hair-raising rides in the outdoor theme park or go on a shopping spree. In the evening, catch an international stage show or revel in the country’s highest disco. For quieter moments, go horse riding at the Awana Horse Ranch. Luxury hotels enhance the pleasure of your honeymoon here. Genting Highlands is only a 45-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur.