Underwater World Langkawi is one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia and is worth a visit to see a range of marine life, but particularly its penguins — behind the tanks also lies a world-class marine research facility. This is a great place to head to on a rainy or super hot day, especially if you have kids in tow.
Underwater World is home to a colony of Rockhopper penguins, the smallest of all crested penguins, with the originals coming from South Africa in 2003 and then successfully breeding in captivity.
The aquarium specialises in penguin husbandry and has rigid guidelines in place when it comes to penguin handling — so no penguin selfies unless its through the protective glass windows. There are however plenty of opportunities to capture the tuxedoed charmers during their crowd-drawing feeding times.
The layout is organised into several specific areas, including Sub Antarctic and Temperate sections, where the penguins hold court, and a tropical rainforest section inclusive of a cheeky welcome parrot. Divers and non-divers alike will appreciate the marine life section, which boasts a 15-metre-long underwater tunnel, giving visitors an opportunity to look eye to eye with some interesting sea dwellers — it’s the next best thing to being there without getting wet.
A general tour could easily take up to three hours, so allot yourself some leeway if you want to get your money’s worth. Informative charts and dioramas are well balanced with plenty of colourful, child-friendly fun facts displayed throughout the complex. A small cafe on site makes for a good refuelling stop along the way.
Underwater World offers practical experience to Malaysian undergraduates studying marine biology, zoology and other related areas of research. Your entry fee goes to further our understanding through this research of the marine environment.
Be warned that there is no monitoring of noise levels and although the dimly lit sanctuary begs for library-like silence, larger groups of visitors may feel the need to talk over each other. The best time to visit Underwater World is mid-week — though avoid school holidays. Do also note that right next door are popular duty-free shops, which may explain the tour buses and taxis packing the adjacent parking lot — don’t panic as they are not here for the aquarium.
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 12th December, 2014.