Langkawi is a jungle-clad island paradise amid the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea. The best way to round off a day of snorkeling, trekking or mangrove kayaking? Satay skewers and an ice-cold beer on its white, sandy beaches.
Covering an area about the size of Singapore, off the far northwestern coast of the mainland, Langkawi is Malaysia’s undisputed number-one beach destination. A stone’s throw (well, 30 kilometers) from Thailand, it has all the same DNA as Phuket or Ko Phi-Phi (shimmering white sands, turquoise seas, emerald jungle fringed with palms) but without that raucous party element its cousins are famous for. It can be busy, but not unpleasantly so – and there are still quiet corners to be found for those (like us) who know where to look. Here, it’s all about world-class resorts, fantastic cuisine, fabulous beaches, and taking it slow.
Langkawi’s beaches come in all shapes and sizes: some with fine, silver sand that squeaks underfoot; others black with granite sediment from Mount Raya; others still others powder-soft and so white they sting the eyes. Head to Tanjung Rhu for stunning views and mangrove boat tours, Pantai Tengah for laid-back, bohemian vibes. Pantai Cenang caters to the livelier crowd with busy beach bars and water sports, while Pantai Kok offers quiet, shady shores. For wilder natural surroundings and scenes of traditional kampung life – make for the island’s interior, where fruit farms and rubber plantations nestle between jagged, limestone karsts, and thick jungle conceals natural hot springs and thundering waterfalls. As beach destinations go, it doesn’t get much better than this.