Put your feet up
The busy beachfront of Pantai Cenang, heavily laden with palms and massive beach umbrellas, often obscures some businesses from sight. Add water sports touts and the general circus-like chaos and you can be seriously hindered from spotting a dining or cold drink pit stop. Here are a few affordable waterfront sunset cafe and bars where you can wet your whistle at sunset.
The bright yellow Yellow Cafe is impossible to overshadow. Not initially a clever marketing ploy, Yellow Cafe’s name was actually derived from the owner’s Thai nickname and not his penchant for primary colours. Easily located via the beach, Yellow Cafe is about 50 metres before the end of the beach behind Underwater World. By street, the archway to Langkapuri Hotel complex would be the direct route.
Their primarily Western selections are prepared in accordance with the French owner’s own culinary training prior to landing in Southeast Asia. The dishes are simple but the quality of ingredients lifts the meals here above common budget fare. From 17 to 26 ringgit sandwiches or 16 ringgit 12-inch pizzas through to a 75-ringgit melt in your mouth mixed grilled platter, you won’t be disappointed. Considered fine dining by some and a beach hangout by others, the come-as-you-are dress code, hammock chairs and the unique addition of happy hour beanbags keep customer traffic diverse.
Although many bars and restaurants along the waterfront treat Langkawi as one big happy hour (thanks to its duty-free status), Yellow Cafe actually has a buy one get one free happy hour from 16:00 until 18:00, just in time for that perfect Langkawi sunset.
If you’d prefer to shave a few more ringgit from your beachfront wining and dining experience, about 100 metres from Yellow Cafe is Rafii’s and Little Lylia’s Chillout Cafe. These side-by-side venues almost appear to be one and the same, but both are long-time Pantai Cenang hangouts. From the main road they can be located behind Restoran Tomato Nasi Kandar down the adjacent road to the beachfront.
On the beach next to Seeman’s Watersports is Little Lylia’s with its recycled tiki motif. There’s no happy hour but the beer is four or five ringgit per can and five ringgit for a draft. They also serve food, starting with breakfast at 10:00. Their diverse menu has everything from eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast through to 12-14 ringgit burgers, nachos and beachfront barbecue. They also have a popular local band, The Jellyfish, playing from 21:00 until very late. Popular with locals and tourists alike, you’ll always be able to find a dance partner here.
Directly next door, Rafii’s is considered by many to be an expat hangout, but their inexpensive Western and Thai cuisine attracts locals as well as long and short-term tourists — not to mention their four ringgit beers and friendly staff. Open Thursday through Tuesday, this unpretentious sundowner option fills up quickly come sunset, but there’s always a welcome space for one more to belly up to the bar.
But if you’re keen to network within the backpacker set, a five-minute walk further down the beach the esoteric Babylon Matlounge community awaits you. Generally open at all hours of the day or night, a variety of small eateries are within steps of the bar itself. Their beverage choices range from the healthy to the pick-your-poison variety. Popular as a consistent reggae venue, it’s not uncommon for impromptu jam sessions to accompany the sunset or busking fire dancers to take centre stage after dark. It’s easily located beachfront from the surfboard welcome sign, and from the main street it’s next to the aptly named Colourful Motel within walking distance of Gecko’s Guest House.
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 25th August, 2014.