After four action-packed days in Langkawi on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia I’ve had my assumptions about the island shattered — in a good way. I’d always written it off as a tourist trap, but what I found was far more interesting — and far less touristed — than I expected. Admittedly I visited across Ramadan, which is probably the slowest time of the year, but the island was far less developed than I expected.
Once settled, I grabbed a motorbike to vroom around the island and Pantai Kok was one of the first beaches I stopped at. I had the entire beach to myself, and, while the water was a little cloudy, there was plenty of shade and a couple of offshore yachts to gaze at. Could have been worse.
This little beach is on the north coast heading towards the Datai, a fancy secluded resort. It was super low tide, so no swimming was to be had, but I’d imagine it would be a different story at high tide. Again I had this beach to myself. Plenty of shade and sand to build castles with.
Next stop was Pantai Tengorak, also on the north coast. This was one of my favourite beaches on the island — and I had to share it with an old lady who was sweeping up some leaves. Close to white sand, soft underfoot, secluded and lovely. Double thumbs up.
A short nature trail winds around the righthand headland at Pantai Tengorak and takes you around to some very
boring old rocks, but before you get there it’s a pleasant walk through the woods. That is until you get a natural acupuncture treatment courtesy of the above branch.
Tanjung Rhu is a long white sand beach that has a couple of fancy hotels like the Four Seasons and a great fish and chip shop on it. We imagine the hotels don’t describe any of their rooms as being the “Cement Factory view villa”. The beach is quite scruffy away from the resorts with flotsam and what not, but the views are lovely.
I lucked out a bit on the views from the summit of Raya, the highest peak on the island — it’s rainy season now, after all — but what was more enjoyable was the ride up and back, winding up the forested peak.
I also managed to fit in a mangrove tour with local guide and bird-watching-maestro Wendy. This was one of the highlights of the time I had on Langkawi and if you’re looking for a premium private guide, I can’t recommend Wendy highly enough. (There’s a whole entry coming up on this trip, but if you want to contact Wendy, her email is email@example.com).
Pantai Tengah is one of the two “popular” beaches on the island, but unlike nearby Pantai Cenang, it lacks the plentiful supply of beach bars and so has a quieter vibe to it. Jetskis and parasailing, though, are unfortunately still here too.
Cenang is the busier of the two beaches and has activities going on all day. Come the evening, the beach bars get going, and while it’s never too raucous a scene, it makes for a fun diversion for a night or ten.
Off the beach and up to the cable car, this was a spectacular trip though certainly not recommended if you’ve got a problem with heights. While the summit is stunning, the forest you pass over is equally so — I spotted one hornbill on the ride up, while others have reported spotting monkeys. If you have binoculars, bring them.
After all this running around, where better to cool off than in a secluded waterfall swimming hole. Again despite spending a few hours here I only saw three other groups of people.
So that’s a quick wrap on our take on Langkawi — we’ve a bunch more entries on the way, so stay tuned!
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 27th August, 2014.