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We spent ten days cruising Langkawi with our friends aboard our boat Starry Horizons. This was our big stop in Malaysia, and with all its beaches and towering landscapes, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
If you aren’t coming on your own boat, there are several charter companies operating in Kuah, including Dream Yacht Charters. While the water isn’t as clear as, say, neighboring Thailand, there are a lot fewer boats in Langkawi, so you get more off-the-grid cruising.
Also, many people cruise across to Thailand, especially Koh Lipe, from Langkawi. I don’t know all the formalities necessary to do this, but it’s definitely worth asking about.
This was our favorite stop in Langkawi. We had the anchorage all to ourselves at night. The landscape around the anchorage is all tall hills, and we can only see a sliver of the horizon, so the anchorage is very protected. When a squall came through, the winds could really whip around, but the water stayed amazingly calm, as there is no room for fetch to build.
The wildlife is pretty amazing! There is lots of bird watching to do, plus monkeys are very common – Sarah even spotted a pig once!
While we were often alone at night, during the day we had to tolerate a different kind of neighbor: jet ski tours. Smokers!!! The tours would come in, waking us, but then they would stop and holler at the cliff, which echoes back at them. Then the jetskiers would hop in for a quick swim.
We enjoyed the Fjords so much we came back with Niki and Denitsa.
We did attempt to go swimming at the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. I was not expecting it to be such a tourist trap! Sarah and I couldn’t actually check out the lake itself because I didn’t realize there was an entrance fee and we didn’t bring any money. However, we decided not to come back with our wallets because it just didn’t look fun.
This anchorage is in view of the main harbor in Langkawi, Kuah, which you can see from this anchorage by looking northeast, 14km away. There were a few other cruisers in the anchorages. Sarah and I went ashore to walk along the beach. There are supposed trails around the island and a waterfall to hike to, but you “need” a guide. It was not an extraordinary beach walk, and there was lots of trash on the beach.
Map of Singa Besar trails.
We stayed for two nights in the Telaga Harbour Marina. We chose Telaga over Royal Langkawi or Rebak because it’s cheap and closest to the airport. It’s also very close to the biggest tourist attraction in Langkawi – the SkyCab. This is where we dropped Sarah off for the airport and picked up Niki and Denitsa. The marina is pretty bare bones, with a simple public shower and restrooms. Thankfully, using the Grab app (like Uber) is really cheap, so we enjoyed going to the Langkawi night markets and into Kuah. The Grab ride into Kuah was roughly RM 33 ($8 USD).
The Telaga area is kind of weird. There’s a shopping area opposite the ferry terminal, but most places seem to be closed or empty stores. There are a few restaurants and a small chandlery.
With our friends onboard we cruised over to Sunset Bay on Pulau Kentut Besar. We stayed two nights here – the first night was cloudy and we did not get to properly enjoy the sunset view. The second night, we got to enjoy a fabulous sunset, but just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, a squall was coming up on the other side. We had an amazing rainbow on one side and sunset on the other! But that only lasted a few moments, then we got dumped on.
We spent the day paddleboarding – I taught Niki and Denitsa how to paddleboard. Denitasa picked it up really well, but Niki struggled for a while – much to our entertainment.
Up until this point, all of the water in our anchorages has been very murky. It’s beautiful, but the visibility is so low. We really wanted to take Niki and Denitsa snorkeling, so we spent a few hours motoring down to Payar Island. We picked up the ONLY large boat mooring. A few ferries come in every day for day trips, and there is a cordoned-off section of beach and water to swim in. Again, very touristy, but thankfully we didn’t have to join the masses.
While the water was still green, the visibility was much improved, and we had three very enjoyable snorkels. We found this map of Pulau Payar underwater sites helpful (here’s a PDF version). We snorkeled Banana Reef (lots of sea anemones), Pantai Damai to Shark Point (yes, we did see lots of sharks), and Pulau Kacha. There are lots of large groupers, which indicates that rangers do a good job enforcing the no fishing policy.
This anchorage on the east side of Langkawi provided us with the best beach we went to. We had this anchorage all to ourselves and stayed for one night.
Now we come to the “big city”. Kuah is the main town in Langkawi, and it has a nice free anchorage centrally located. There is a dinghy dock with easy access to all the essentials: a park, excellent provisioning, and the Wednesday and Saturday night market.
Langkawi is duty-free, so it’s the best place in Southeast Asia to stock up on alcohol before heading across the Indian Ocean. I was thrilled to find my favorite Texas vodka in stock.
We shopped at two major stores; BHK and Billion. BHK is decent for dry goods and frozen meats, but the fresh meats, cheeses, and produce selection at Billion makes it much more worth it (even if you are coming from Telaga). Plus, the Billion is in a mall with tons of stores, so it’s a great one-stop-shop.
We clear out of Malaysia in Langkawi and head over to Thailand.