A glittering jewel for only the luckiest of travellers, lying in the Andaman Sea is Langkawi, one of Malaysia’s most prized possessions. Tourists are generally attracted by its laid-back island atmosphere, dream-like white beaches and perhaps most significantly, its rare duty-free status! A natural haven of tranquility and marvel, it is undoubtedly the nature of Langkawi that makes it such a memorable destination.
Author: Corrine Wolstenholme
Langkawi, known as the jewel of Kedah, is a district and archipelago of more than 100 islands 30 km off the mainland coast of northwest Malaysia. Pulau Langkawi (Langkawi Island), popular with foreign and local tourists, is the largest of all the islands. The idyllic tropical beach at Pantai Cenang offers many water sports and there is great opportunity for hiking in order to see panoramic views or to visit the Geoforest Park.
Little known about Langkawi is that its coastlines are home to plenty of microorganisms that can be discovered on muck dives despite the reduced visibility that inevitably comes with muck diving. If you dive with Langkawi Scuba, you get a 2:1 ratio of students to instructor. Due to the shallow dive sights, the dives can be an hour long, which gives you ample time to search through the vegetation on the sea bed for hidden treasures. Frequently seen organisms include seahorses, razorfish, eels, frog fish, barracuda, and sea urchins. Muck diving offers a unique opportunity to develop skills in challenging conditions. Another way to view the marine environment around Langkawi is to take an island hopping mangrove boat tour. The boat drops people at a number of different islands so you can snorkel, swim or sunbathe to your heart’s content.
The Langkawi Sky Bridge offers views like nowhere else on the island of the coastline and surrounding Thai islands. The 2.2 km SkyCab from Teluk Burau (the Oriental Village) will take you 708 m above sea level to the top station in what is unsurprisingly one of the steepest cable cars in the world. From there, you can either walk or take the SkyGlide to the bridge where you can see the hillside flora, waterfalls and occasional wildlife found among the forest.
Waterfalls, Mountains and Sea Views
Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) is said to be the best waterfall in Langkawi and offers a nice change to the coastline’s sandy beaches. It is 91 m tall and accessible from the car park at its base. At the summit of the waterfall hide a series of natural freshwater rock pools that can be accessed by a 638-step ascent through the rainforest. The views of the island from up here are intimate and special.
Gunung Machinchang, with an altitude of just over 700 meters, is the second highest mountain on the Island. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Geopark and is certainly not a hike for the fainthearted! If you do make the climb, the rewards are plentiful, with potential wildlife sightings en-route, including the white-bellied sea eagle, and 360-degree island views at the summit. The hike begins at the steps to Telaga Tujuh.
Langkawi can be accessed by taking a ferry from either Penang, Kuala Perlis or Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The local ferries are reasonably cheap and frequent enough to suit everyone’s schedules. The best time to visit Langkawi is during the dry season from November to June when skies are reliably blue and seas good enough for snorkelling and scuba diving. Temperatures remain around 30-degrees Celsius for the majority of the dry season. Enjoy!