As one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most powerful countries, Malaysia is endowed with both economic prosperity and natural bounty. This makes Malaysia a great place to start a long and luxurious yacht charter vacation.
The country’s tourism industry is one of the biggest contributors to its economy. Receipts from tourism amounted to RM 53.4 billion in 2007 and rose steadily to RM 86.1 billion in 2019.
The country’s diverse natural attractions are of particular interest to tourists coming to Malaysia. Among these are famous islands and beach destinations — some of which are renowned across Southeast Asia.
Which is the best yacht charter to book in Malaysia?
While Malaysia is home to some world-class islands, travel a little farther from its shores and you can come to equally fascinating places such as the world-famous Phuket in Thailand and the gorgeous and secluded Mentawai Islands of Indonesia.
With a flourishing yacht charter sector, the country serves as a perfect springboard for exploration of many famous islands of other countries in the region.
A specially rented luxury vessel is one of the best ways to explore these gems of Southeast Asia, as they come equipped with five-star comforts and toys to ride the waves.
The Yacht Club has its own dedicated Malaysia section for booking yachts from its fleet of comfortable and fast vessels.
Charter World has a number of superyachts in its fleet, and they offer remarkably luxurious facilities. Many of these sleek vessels come with their own set of toys such as water skis. Among these are the 74-metre-long Lady E, a superyacht that can be rented for USD 595,000 (RM 2,531,427), and the El Aleph, a traditional sailing yacht complete with masts.
Bookings based on the number of passengers and season of travel can also be done on Yacht Charter Fleet. The user-friendly website has several customisable options to help select the best yacht in their fleet, which includes superyachts and sailing yachts.
If opting to sail in Malaysian waters, Platinum Charters can be a good option. Its highest priced vessel, Liquidity (Princess 52), will cost RM 144,000 per person per week and is a perfect yacht to explore the shores of the country.
Additionally, Y.CO provides a private yacht charter on rent in South East Asia, details of which can be sought on request via their official site.
Malaysia’s Langkawi is perhaps one of the most famous islands in Southeast Asia. The picturesque biodiversity hotspot is a prime tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world to the pristine ecosystem. It also boasts of some of the finest luxury hotels in the region, including Four Seasons Resort Langkawi and Ritz-Carlton Langkawi.
Located on the northwest coast of Malaysia and the southwest coast of Thailand, 99 islands form the Langkawi archipelago. The island chain is recognised as a UNESCO Global Geopark, which is testimony to its ecological importance.
One of the most acclaimed sailing destinations in Southeast Asia, Langkawi is surrounded by the Strait of Malacca. The waters around the island chain support ancient mangroves and coral reefs. Additionally, marine life is abundant in the waters around Langkawi.
On the islands are hills covered by thick forests, hidden amongst which are beautiful waterfalls. Moreover, the highest peak of Langkawi, Gunung Raya, is located on the main island.
The white beaches of the island are extremely enticing for those who want to simply relax. From hiking to diving amongst the corals, there is no dearth of fun and leisure when in Langkawi.
Located around 135 nautical miles to the north of Langkawi is Phuket, another top tourist destination in Southeast Asia.
As Thailand’s biggest island, Phuket has plenty to offer to visitors. The bustling place is brimming with shoppers, fine diners, beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts at almost any time of the day.
Phuket is a fine blend of traditions and modernity. There are museums in Phuket Town, as well as Chinese temples. On the hill that overlooks the white sands of the famous Kata Beach sits the Big Buddha — a massive statue of Lord Buddha that serves as one of the most significant religious symbols of the region.
Even the nightlife of Phuket is outstanding, with places such as Patong lined with go-go bars — entertainment venues where drinks are served and shows are performed on a stage for adults.
Private yachts can bring one closer to less crowded diving spots or beach areas in and around Phuket. It is also a great way to peacefully explore the underwater life of the Andaman Sea, which surrounds the island.
Two sites worth exploring are Ko Racha Noi, a small island that serves as a diving spot, where one can see manta rays, and Ko Racha Yai, another island that is known for its clean white beach.
However, any sailing trip in Phuket is incomplete without a visit to the Ao Phang Nga National Park on Phang Nga Bay. The biodiversity hotspot can be easily accessed in a private luxury yacht. World-renowned for its mangrove forests and limestone cliffs, Ao Phang Nga is a breathtaking natural paradise, which continues to enthral anyone who kayaks on its clear turquoise waters or explores the prehistoric rocks.
If the crowd at Phuket is off-putting for you, then just about 45 nautical miles to the north, within Thai waters, are the Similan Islands.
Due to its relative isolation, the Similan Islands have an almost undisturbed natural landscape marked by clear blue waters and white sands.
Nine islands make up the Similan Islands, and each has a distinctive charm of its own. The rocky features are low-lying but covered with thick vegetation.
The rocks of the group of islands are as much its prime attraction as are the deserted coral-sand beaches.
The archipelago is ancient and was underwater millions of years ago. Its rocks were shaped by millions of years of erosion and appear strangely scattered around the islands. Many of them have distinct features. One such is the Sailing Boat Rock, which is located above a cove on the main island, known as Koh Similan, and appears to be teetering on the edge.
As for the wildlife, this peaceful archipelago is home to dusky langurs, crab-eating monkeys and a variety of birds.
Diving in the waters of the Similan Islands is a once-in-lifetime experience, especially because visitors can peacefully explore the marine world. A thriving ecosystem dominated by colourful corals exists in the waters of the archipelago.
In short, the Similan Islands make for a picture-perfect yachting destination in Southeast Asia.
Batam, part of the Riau archipelago, is one of the top destinations for people in Malaysia not only because of its relative proximity to Kuala Lumpur but also because it is part of the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle.
The island is governed by Indonesia and boasts some of the finest golf courses in Southeast Asia. There are numerous luxury resorts to unwind for those who want to leave their yacht and come onshore.
Shoppers would fall in love with any of the mega shopping malls, such as Mega Mall Batam Centre and Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, on the island.
One of the unique landmarks that can be best appreciated from a private luxury yacht is the Barelang Bridge. The engineering marvel consists of six sophisticated full-swing bridges connecting the islands of Batam, Rempang and Galang.
As with any prime island destination, Batam has its share of water sports activities on offer. The best way to experience any of them is to take the yacht towards the Nongsa Coast and Waterfront City.
To the east of Batam is the larger island of Bintan, also a gem of the Riau archipelago. While the turquoise waters washing the white sandy beaches create a calming sight, its size and many smaller nearby islands give tourists visiting Bintan more options to explore.
There is an array of outstanding luxury resorts located within a singular enclave known as Bintan Resorts. Thus, for those who would want to get off their vessels and soak in the luxurious delights of hotels, places such as Bintan Lagoon Resort and The Sanchaya could be ideal.
Island hopping around Bintan reveals hidden areas such as Mapur Island, where snorkelling along with tropical fishes of the South China Sea can be one of the most memorable activities for travellers.
For those who like a dash of history to their tours, the Penyengat Island has the famous Sultan Riau Great Mosque. The walls of the mosque are coloured a beautiful light yellow. The island is just off the shore of the historic city of Tanjung Pinang, the capital of Riau Islands province. Tanjung Pinang is a cultural cosmopolis. Everything, from its cuisine to architecture, reflects the influence of Malay, Bugis, Banjar, Java, Sumatran, Chinese and Hindu cultures.
Surrounded by beautiful islets, Belitung is a magnificent piece of landmass sitting in the middle of Indonesia’s main islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
While the South China Sea is on the northern side of the Belitung islands, its southern side is washed by the waves of the Java Sea.
Every islet is unique and has incredible rock formations. Their contours are marked by large boulders along white-sand beaches and appear as if some gigantic hand simply dropped them here.
Some rock formations are even more remarkable. The Birds Island has a rock structure resembling a bird’s head overlooking the waters. Nearby is the Batu Berlayar, an islet whose name means Sailing Rock Island because its granite rock formations look like sailing vessels.
Catamaran sailing yachts are perfect to explore Belitung, especially because the waters around the island are calm. This also makes the region perfect for kayaking and swimming.
Part of the northernmost stretch of Indonesia’s Riau archipelago, the Anambas is a group of many astoundingly beautiful islands.
There are lagoons at Pulau Bawah and Pulau Rongkat, two of the more famous islands in the Anambas cluster. The azure waters of the lagoons and the white beaches can make anyone fall in love with the place.
Private yachts are, all the more, a better means of touring the Anambas because of hidden gems, such as the Selat Rangsang Beach. The spectacular sandy turf is hidden by four smaller islands and offers the perfect privacy to spend a romantic time with your loved one.
Near the Anambas cluster are shipwreck spots, including that of the vessel Igara. Underwater explorers come to this place to see the wreckage and to take pictures of the corals and gentle whale sharks that swim about.
The Mentawai Islands is an archipelago of 70 islands located on the western side of Indonesia’s Sumatra. The powerful waves of the Indian Ocean on its west coast make Mentawai an excellent spot for surfing.
The island chain is relatively a new discovery. Even though the archipelago is just about 150 km from the Sumatran mainland, it remained undiscovered until about the early 20th century. This is primarily because of the unpredictable waves and the coastline that is steep, rocky and guarded by sharp coral reefs.
Even to this day, Mentawai remains largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia. It is, therefore, an almost untouched paradise, where all modern luxuries take a backseat.
Yet, this isolation is exactly why the islands are sought after by those who love the idea of an adventure off the beaten track.
There is a lot to do in Mentawai other than surfing. Exploring the islands is one activity. The beaches are clean and undisturbed, which appeals to the gratifying senses.
Most of the islands in the archipelago are covered with thick forests. Within them live rare species of animals, such as the black-and-yellow monkey known locally as simpai Mentawai. There are also tattooed hunter-gatherer tribes who call the islands their home.
Kota Kinabalu is a prominent Malaysian beach destination, renowned for both the magnificent coastal city and offshore islands that are near it.
Located in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, the city of Kota Kinabalu has numerous historical attractions and is the gateway to Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to around 4,500 species of flora and fauna. Its most towering attraction is the 4,095-metre-tall Mount Kinabalu — the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea.
However, there is more for those who would rather go island hopping on their private yachts. A bunch of amazing islands near Kota Kinabalu make it one of the top sailing trips in South East Asia.
While the waters of Dinawan Island are loaded with coral reefs, the remote Mengalum Island is a picturesque land that can be traversed on foot.
Divers discover a haven of marine life in the waters of the Mantanani archipelago, comprising three islands. The twin islands of Mamutik and Manukan have clear waters despite being close to the mainland. One of the world’s longest ziplines connects Sapi Island to Gaya Island, which is known for its incredible luxury resorts and marine conservation projects.
Nine islands form the Redang archipelago. The group of islands is located to the east of Peninsular Malaysia, across the state of Terengganu.
The purely luxury destination has numerous resorts to choose from for those who want to get off their yachts and explore the Redang archipelago. Not much can, however, be done in the interiors, as they are mostly impassable.
But snorkelling and diving in the crystal clear waters directly from the yacht deck is immensely pleasurable. In the waters are corals, preserved excellently and thriving.
Redang has served as a filming destination, and tourists like visiting places shown in some of the movies shot here. The hit Hong Kong film Summer Holiday (2000) was filmed here, which led to a rise in tourism in the place.
(Hero and featured image: Steve Douglas/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia