Grab your swimmers
Published/Last edited or updated: 23rd March, 2017
Langkawi has its fair share of wonderful beaches. All of the following are easily reached independently — or take an island hopper boat to explore the smaller offshore island beaches scattered throughout the archipelago.
Don’t forget that Langkawi is big, so if your planned day at the beach is interrupted by unfavourable weather or sea conditions, head across the island in the opposite direction and you may find more inviting skies and waters.
First off the rank is Pantai Tengah (Tengah Beach). The Lanai Resort anchors the south end of Pantai Tengah, which then runs north to a rocky headland dividing Pantai Tengah from Pantai Cenang and hosting the small Sunset Beach Resort. This stretch of beach and the public beach access at the bottom of Jalan Pantai Tengah is popular with locals as well as jet skiers and parasailers.
The northern stretch of beach from here is all but deserted on most days and outside of the resorts, there are few restaurants (walk up to the main road to find plenty though). Do note that the northernmost part of Pantai Tengah may have a steep drop off at certain times of year and the waters should be entered with caution.
South of Langkawi’s airport, and just north of Pantai Tengah, popular Pantai Cenang has been luring international visitors for decades with its palm-laden stretch of sandy-white beach. It runs for almost two kilometres from a southern rocky headland home to The Cliff Restaurant and the iconic Langkawi Kedah sign to Sangai Cenang (Cenang River) and the five-star Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort.
The Brasserie Restaurant & Bar and Yellow Cafe is found along this beach amid all the hotels, and for that funky beach bar experience there’s Rafii’s and Little Lylia’s, both offering tall shade trees and cold beverages. Just about anywhere you place yourself along Pantai Cenang will have spectacular sunset views.
Travelling north from Pantai Cenang, the next decent beach is Pantai Kok adjacent to Telaga Harbour and Perdana Quay. This stretch of beach is popular among locals for afternoon and evening picnics and has ample shade trees set in a park-like setting next to the sands. The water is shallow here and so excellent for young children and cautious swimmers.
Langkawi’s northern beaches are some of the most underrated and certainly less visited by foreign tourists, which is a shame as many of them offer terrific views over to the Thai islands. Travelling up the centre of the island from the airport and Padang Matsirat you will come to the Padang Lalang roundabout. Taking the first spur left will lead you to Datai Bay, but let’s continue north through the junction, where you turn right to get onto the road leading to Pantai Tanjung Rhu.
Pantai Tanjung Rhu is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and is by far the longest. This beach is never crowded and relatively underdeveloped with only two five-star resorts here. Look for Scarborough’s Fish and Chips where the road meets the shore and you will find a car park and plenty of beach access.
At the far end of Tanjung Rhu Beach, past the two resorts, is a small village with a few casual restaurants and souvenir vendors. The swimming is excellent, though it can get a bit choppy with the approach of a storm. With the wide spit of shoreline here it’s easy to stake your claim on a patch of sand with few people and little disturbances.
Back to the northern roundabout and travelling west out towards Datai Bay, the first beach you encounter is Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach). A few pavilions have been built along the seawall here but it has a more tourist-y (think bus loads) feel to it, with restaurants, a slew of souvenir vendors and a playground for kids. This beach is best at low to medium tide levels or you may find yourself pressed up against the seawall.
Heading further up the coast road and just past the Komplex Kraft is Pantai Teluk Yu (Shark Bay Beach). Look for the seawall adorned with small pavilions adjacent to a small parking area. Pantai Teluk Yu is not always on maps, but the location is definitely not a secret. The views of the Thai Islands to the north are spectacular and you can kick back with refreshments from the food and beverage kiosks. The beach here all but disappears at high tide, but is still a popular spot with locals.
Travelling west on Jalan Teluk Yu, you will come to the road to Datai Bay on the right. This is the home of the Crocodile Farm and leads on to The Datai Resort.
The first beach along this coast road is Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (Skull Sand Beach). Marked by an arched entry from a small parking lot, a small hotel and restaurant is here as well as pavilions, with tall trees and a pleasant seaside vista. The swimming is good here, however again be warned that the beach narrows considerably at high tide.
Further west (between Datai Bay and Skull Sand Beach) towards Datai Bay is Pantai Batu (Pebble Beach). It’s not visible from the road, but look for the small pavilion and parking lot across from the entrance to Temuran Falls. A steep but short trail leads down to the rocky beach. There are a few spots where one may be inclined to sit or spend some time rock fossicking, but like Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, the beach shrinks at high tide. Surrounding foliage is dense, so wear mosquito repellent if exploring here.
Datai Bay is home to Pantai Teluk Datai (Datai Bay Beach), which runs along the bay in front of the Datai and Andaman Resorts. There is an inviting stretch of beach here, but entry is through the resorts at their discretion. The eastern end of the beach in front of the Andaman resort is protected by a coral reef just a short distance offshore. Swimming here your feet may encounter broken coral, so wear reef runners or swim further up the beach towards the Datai.
A short contract job in a (Singapore) hospital initially landed Vanessa in Southeast Asia, where she decided to take a break from her medical career for more creative endeavours. She is presently basing herself in Langkawi, Malaysia from where she continues her exploration of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and other destinations on her bucket list.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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