Islands have always been a popular destination for tourists seeking sun, sea and sand. However, some islands are not only known for their picturesque beaches and clear waters but also for the cultural experiences they offer.
Muslim countries boast a variety of such islands that provide visitors with an opportunity to explore Islamic traditions while enjoying a relaxing vacation. From Malaysia’s Langkawi Island to Indonesia’s Bali Island, these destinations offer visitors the chance to experience diverse cultures, indulge in local cuisine and witness stunning landscapes.
List of the best Muslim island countries
Langkawi, located in Malaysia, is a stunning archipelago consisting of 99 islands that offer an array of activities and attractions for tourists.
This beautiful destination has something for everyone, from its pristine beaches to its tropical rainforests. Langkawi’s natural beauty is matched by the warmth and hospitality of its people, making it a popular tourist destination.
Langkawi offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, island hopping, and jungle trekking. The clear waters surrounding the islands are perfect for swimming and water sports enthusiasts.
Visitors can also explore the mangrove forests by taking a boat tour or visit the Sky Bridge that offers panoramic views of the Andaman Sea and surrounding islands.
Langkawi also boasts several cultural attractions such as traditional Malaysian villages and museums showcasing local history and traditions. The island’s culinary scene features delicious Malay cuisine with influences from Chinese and Indian cultures making it a food lover’s paradise.
With so much to see and do in this enchanting archipelago, it’s no wonder why Langkawi attracts millions of visitors every year.
Located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, Bali is a tropical paradise located in Indonesia.
Known for its vibrant culture, picturesque beaches, and iconic rice paddies, Bali has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
The island is home to more than 4 million people and is considered to be the spiritual capital of Indonesia.
Bali’s unique blend of Hindu-Buddhist religion and culture sets it apart from other Indonesian islands.
Visitors can explore ancient temples such as Tanah Lot or Besakih Temple, watch traditional Balinese dance performances or indulge in local delicacies such as babi guling (roast pork) or nasi campur (mixed rice).
Bali’s stunning coastline also offers a range of activities including surfing at Kuta Beach or scuba diving at Tulamben Bay.
With so much natural beauty and cultural richness to offer, it’s no wonder that Bali remains a top destination for travelers from all over the world.
Enveloped in crystal-clear turquoise waters, Zanzibar’s pristine beaches and rich cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a unique African experience.
Located off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar comprises two main islands – Unguja and Pemba – along with several smaller islets.
The archipelago has a long history of trade and commerce, having served as a hub for merchants from all over the world since ancient times.
Zanzibar’s beauty lies not only in its beaches but also in its exotic culture that stems from centuries of interaction between different ethnic groups. The island’s Swahili culture is particularly fascinating, blending African, Arab, Indian and European influences.
Visitors can explore ancient ruins such as the Palace Museum or delve into the bustling markets to get a taste of local life.
Diving enthusiasts will be thrilled by the abundant marine life around Mnemba Atoll while nature lovers can hike through lush tropical forests to see rare red colobus monkeys.
All in all, Zanzibar offers an unforgettable experience that combines natural beauty with cultural richness.
Renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and luxurious resorts, the Maldives is a popular destination among travelers seeking a tropical paradise.
Made up of 26 atolls, the island nation is located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka and India. With crystal-clear waters and an abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder that the Maldives is considered one of the world’s best diving destinations.
- The Maldives is home to over 1,000 coral islands.
- The majority of the population are Sunni Muslims.
- The official language is Dhivehi, but English is widely spoken.
- The economy relies heavily on tourism, fishing and shipping industries.
Apart from diving, there are plenty of other activities worth exploring in the Maldives. Visitors can go snorkeling with whale sharks or manta rays, embark on a sunset dolphin cruise or simply relax on pristine white-sand beaches while enjoying stunning sunsets over turquoise waters.
For those seeking adventure on land, there are guided nature walks through lush forests or cultural tours to experience local traditions and customs firsthand. Whatever your interests may be, there is something for everyone in this picturesque island destination.
Socotra, an archipelago in the Arabian Sea that is part of Yemen, is known for its unique flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The island’s natural beauty draws in many tourists every year who are eager to explore its diverse landscapes.
The Socotra archipelago has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its exceptional biodiversity and geological significance.
The island is home to over 700 species of plants and animals that are endemic to the region, including the dragon’s blood tree which has become an iconic symbol of Socotra. Other notable species include the cucumber tree, bottle tree, and desert rose.
In addition to its natural wonders, Socotra boasts stunning beaches, crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling and diving, and ancient ruins that offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
Despite being relatively remote, Socotra remains a must-visit destination for anyone seeking adventure in an otherworldly landscape unlike any other.
Samosir Island, Indonesia
Located in the middle of Lake Toba, Samosir Island is a popular tourist destination in Indonesia known for its scenic beauty and cultural significance.
The island is believed to be the home of the Batak people, who are known for their unique customs and traditions.
Visitors can witness these traditions through various forms of art such as dance, music, and handicrafts that are still practiced by the locals. Samosir Island offers visitors a plethora of activities to do such as hiking, cycling, and water sports.
Here are some highlights:
- Pusuk Buhit: A sacred mountain where visitors can hike to enjoy panoramic views of the lake.
- Tomok Village: A traditional village that showcases the history and culture of the Batak people.
- Ambarita Village: An ancient village where visitors can see stone chairs used for trials by local kings.
With its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder why Samosir Island attracts tourists from all over the world.
Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Sipadan Island, situated in the Celebes Sea, is a protected marine reserve and renowned diving destination that attracts tourists with its diverse aquatic life and coral formations.
The island’s surrounding waters are home to over 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of species of coral. Divers can expect to see an array of underwater creatures such as hammerhead sharks, green turtles, barracudas, and manta rays.
The island’s unique geological formation also adds to its charm. Sipadan Island was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to emerge from the ocean floor. As a result, the island has steep walls that plunge up to 600 meters into the depths below.
These walls provide divers with a breathtaking view while they explore the colorful world beneath the waves.
With its abundant marine life and stunning underwater scenery, it is no wonder why Sipadan Island remains one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations.
Tioman Island, Malaysia
Nestled within the crystal-clear waters of the South China Sea, Tioman Island boasts a stunning natural landscape and is hailed as one of Malaysia’s most picturesque destinations.
The island stretches across 29 kilometers in length and 11 kilometers in width, with its highest peak rising up to an impressive 1,038 meters above sea level.
Tioman Island is surrounded by coral reefs that are home to diverse marine life including turtles, sharks, rays, and colorful tropical fish.
Visitors can indulge in a variety of activities on Tioman Island such as diving, snorkeling, hiking through lush rainforests or simply lounging on white sandy beaches.
The island’s pristine beaches are often dotted with luxurious resorts and chalets that offer visitors world-class amenities while they soak up the warm Malaysian sun.
For those seeking adventure beyond the water sports and beach activities, there are also opportunities to explore small villages nestled inland where visitors can immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine.
With its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and breathtaking landscapes, Lombok is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Indonesian experience.
Located in West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia, this picturesque island offers visitors a perfect blend of culture and nature.
The island boasts of impressive waterfalls, verdant forests, and traditional villages that give visitors a glimpse into the local way of life.
One of the top attractions in Lombok is Mount Rinjani – an active volcano standing at 3,726 meters high.
Trekkers can embark on a challenging hike to its summit where they will be rewarded with panoramic views of the island.
For those looking for some relaxation after the trekking adventure, Lombok’s pristine beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing or trying out various water sports activities such as surfing or snorkeling.
Visitors can also indulge in local delicacies such as Ayam Taliwang (spicy grilled chicken) or Bebalung Soup (a traditional soup made from beef ribs).
Overall, Lombok offers an unforgettable experience that combines natural beauty with cultural richness.
Moving on from Lombok, Indonesia, we now take a look at Palawan, Philippines. Known as the “last ecological frontier” of the country, Palawan is a group of islands located in the western part of the Philippines and is considered one of the most biodiverse areas in Southeast Asia.
Palawan boasts stunning landscapes such as white sand beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters and towering limestone cliffs that make for a perfect backdrop to any vacation photo. But beyond its natural beauty lies an abundance of flora and fauna that is unique to this region.
Its rainforests are home to rare species such as the Philippine Mouse-Deer and Calamian Deer while its waters host over 600 species of fish and coral reefs that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With all these natural wonders combined, it’s no surprise that Palawan has become a top tourist destination not just in the Philippines but around the world.
Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
Located in the Sulu Sea, Tubbataha Reef is a protected marine area that features a diverse array of coral species and marine life. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has become a popular destination for scuba divers from all over the world who come to explore its pristine waters.
Spanning an area of around 97,000 hectares, Tubbataha Reef is home to over 600 fish species, 360 coral species, and several endangered marine animals such as sea turtles and sharks. One of the unique features of Tubbataha Reef is its two large coral atolls which are surrounded by deep channels.
These channels provide crucial habitat for dozens of shark species including hammerheads, tiger sharks, and whale sharks which visit the reef during their seasonal migrations. In addition to sharks, other iconic marine animals such as manta rays and giant trevally can also be spotted here.
Visitors to Tubbataha Reef can enjoy not only diving but also snorkeling and bird watching on nearby islands that provide nesting sites for migratory seabirds such as boobies and frigate birds.
Boracay Island, Philippines
Renowned for its powdery white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Boracay Island in the Philippines is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from around the world.
Located in the Western Visayas region of the country, this small island measures only 7 km long and 1 km wide.
Despite its size, it offers an extensive array of activities such as diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, parasailing, and island hopping.
Boracay’s coastline is divided into three stations: Station 1 offers upscale accommodations with more private beach areas; Station 2 is home to D’Mall where guests can shop for souvenirs and dine at various restaurants; while Station 3 provides budget-friendly accommodations perfect for backpackers.
The island also features an exciting nightlife scene with bars that offer live music performances and fire dancers.
With its stunning scenery and lively atmosphere, Boracay Island is truly a must-visit destination in the Philippines.
Koh Rong, Cambodia
Moving on from Boracay Island, let us venture to the Kingdom of Cambodia and explore one of its most captivating islands – Koh Rong.
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, this island is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs that make it a perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Koh Rong is the largest among the 22 islands that comprise Koh Rong Archipelago. It boasts a variety of accommodations ranging from budget-friendly bungalows to luxurious villas that cater to different types of travelers.
The island’s main village, Koh Tuich Village, has a range of restaurants serving local Khmer dishes as well as international cuisine. Visitors can also indulge in various activities such as hiking through lush jungles or taking boat tours around neighboring uninhabited islands.
With its unspoiled beauty and laidback vibe, Koh Rong offers an ideal getaway for those seeking tranquility amidst stunning natural scenery.
Crete, Greece (with significant Muslim population)
Nestled in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece’s largest island of Crete captivates visitors with its rugged mountains, turquoise waters, and rich cultural heritage that reflects its historical interactions with Muslim empires.
Despite being a predominantly Christian Orthodox island, Crete has a significant Muslim population that dates back to the Ottoman rule from 1669-1898.
Today, there are several mosques on the island including the famous Arkadi Monastery which was used as a hiding place for Cretan rebels during the Greek War of Independence.
The blend of Islamic and Greek influences is evident in many aspects of Cretan culture, from its cuisine to music and architecture.
Visitors can explore Venetian fortresses alongside ornate Ottoman fountains and hammams.
The town of Rethymnon is home to a beautiful mosque built by the Ottomans in 1646 which still stands today as a reminder of this unique cultural fusion.
For those interested in Islamic history and architecture, Crete offers an intriguing glimpse into how these two worlds have coexisted for centuries on this beautiful Mediterranean island.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Moving on from Crete, Greece, which has a significant Muslim population, we shift our attention to the Gili Islands in Indonesia. Consisting of three small islands located off the northwest coast of Lombok Island, Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are known for their picturesque scenery and crystal-clear waters that attract tourists from all over the world. These islands are part of Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province and have a predominantly Muslim population.
The table below provides some basic information about each island in the Gili Islands:
|Island||Area (km²)||Population||Main Religion(s)||Notable Features|
|Gili Trawangan||3.5||2,000 – 4,000||Islam||Nightlife/Party scene; Diving/Snorkeling|
|Gili Air||1.68||<2,000||Islam||Calm atmosphere; Scuba diving/snorkeling|
|Gili Meno||2.52||<500||Islam/Hinduism||Serene atmosphere; Turtle sanctuary|
Despite their small size and limited resources compared to other popular tourist destinations in Indonesia such as Bali or Jakarta, the Gili Islands remain an attractive destination for travelers seeking serene beaches and unique cultural experiences.
Visitors can immerse themselves in local customs by attending traditional ceremonies like Sasak weddings or exploring nearby villages known for their handicrafts production.
The combination of natural beauty and cultural richness makes the Gili Islands a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a glimpse into Indonesian culture while enjoying some fun in the sun.
Sumba Island, Indonesia
Located in the East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia, Sumba Island is a lesser-known destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
The island is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Indonesia, with crystal clear waters and pristine white sand. Visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, or simply relaxing on the beach while soaking up the sun.
Aside from its natural beauty, Sumba Island also boasts a rich cultural heritage that is evident in its villages and traditional houses. The people of Sumba still practice their ancestral traditions such as animism and megalithic worship.
In addition to this, visitors can witness the weaving of Ikat textiles which are famous for their intricate patterns and colors. The island’s traditional houses are also worth visiting as they showcase unique architectural styles that reflect the social status of their owners.
Overall, Sumba Island is an excellent choice for travelers looking to immerse themselves in Indonesian culture while enjoying breathtaking scenery at the same time.
Salalah in Oman is known for its lush green landscapes and subtropical climate, which is a stark contrast to the arid desert regions that are usually associated with the Middle East.
Located in the southern part of Oman, Salalah is set against the backdrop of the Dhofar Mountains and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The city’s unique location has contributed to its reputation as a tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Salalah offers a wide range of activities and attractions for tourists to enjoy. Visitors can explore ancient ruins such as Al Baleed Archaeological Park, which was once a thriving trading center during medieval times.
Another popular attraction is Wadi Darbat, a beautiful oasis nestled amongst rolling hills and waterfalls.
Salalah boasts some of Oman’s most stunning beaches such as Mughsail Beach, where visitors can relax and soak up the sun while enjoying breathtaking views of the sea. To encapsulate these attractions for easy reference by readers, we have provided below an emotive table that highlights four popular landmarks in Salalah:
|Al Baleed Archaeological Park||A UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing ancient Islamic architecture|
|Wadi Darbat||A natural beauty spot presenting cascading waterfalls amidst mountains|
|Mughsail Beach||A serene beach providing picturesque views of cliffs plunging into blue waters|
|Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve||Home to rare plants and animals including hyenas & gazelles|
Salalah provides an unforgettable experience for anyone who visits it due to its unique location with lush green landscapes contrasting with surrounding deserts. Its diverse attractions offer something for everyone – from history buffs to nature lovers- making it one of Oman’s must-visit destinations.
Lembongan Island, Indonesia
Nusa Lembongan is an idyllic destination in Indonesia that offers visitors a tranquil escape from the bustling cities and tourist hotspots.
Located southeast of Bali, this small island is a hidden gem that boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning coral reefs. The island’s laid-back atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for relaxation and contemplation.
Aside from its natural beauty, Nusa Lembongan also offers various activities for adventurous travelers seeking to explore the island’s surroundings. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities that allow visitors to discover the abundant marine life that surrounds the island. Additionally, surfing enthusiasts can catch waves at some of the best surf spots in Indonesia.
Nusa Lembongan also features several temples and cultural sites where tourists can learn about Balinese traditions and customs.
Nusa Lembongan is a perfect destination for those who seek a peaceful retreat away from busy cities while still having access to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
Koh Lanta, situated in the Krabi province of Thailand, is a serene island that offers visitors stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and a tranquil atmosphere.
This picturesque island is perfect for those who seek relaxation away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Visitors can enjoy numerous activities such as snorkeling, diving, hiking through the forest trails or simply lounging on the beach. The island’s natural beauty is breathtakingly enchanting. Here are five reasons why Koh Lanta should be on your bucket list:
- The island boasts some of Thailand’s most pristine and secluded beaches.
- Visitors can witness an array of unique flora and fauna while trekking through the dense jungle.
- The locals are friendly and always willing to provide insider tips on where to go and what to do.
- Koh Lanta has a rich cultural heritage that dates back centuries; visitors can explore ancient Buddhist temples scattered throughout the island.
- The sunsets are absolutely stunning; watching it dip below the horizon is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Overall, Koh Lanta offers an ideal mix of adventure and tranquility making it one of Thailand’s top destinations for tourists seeking serenity amidst nature.
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Moving on from Koh Lanta, one may find themselves interested in exploring the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. These two islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil, are located off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and are known for their crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant marine life.
Perhentian Besar is the larger of the two islands and offers a more upscale experience with luxurious resorts and restaurants. Meanwhile, Perhentian Kecil is popular among backpackers for its budget-friendly accommodations and lively nightlife scene.
Both islands offer an abundance of activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, jungle trekking, and even turtle watching during nesting season.
The Perhentian Islands are a true paradise that cater to both adventure-seekers and those looking to relax on a beautiful beach surrounded by nature’s beauty.