Post date: Jul 9, 2012 8:02:00 AM
Known as the "Jewel of Kedah" and it truly is!!
Langkawi is a group of 99 island, some no bigger than rocks, but the main island, Pulau Langkawi is quite large, with towns, roads, cablecar to its second highest peak and an international airport. The geology is so unique that UNESCO has labelled it a Natural World Heritage Area. Some islands are granite, some limestone and there is even a marble mine on one of them. The topography in many areas is karst, typically limestone cliffs and gorges, a bit like Phang Na Bay in Thailand and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, where the water has eroded the rock into tall towers and caves. Much of it is National Park and there are a number of sites forming the Langkawi Geopark.
Langkawi is almost on the border of Thailand and is a good staging point for boaters heading that way. (the nearest Thai island is only 4 km away) although provisioning can be a challenge, compared to places like Penang and Johor Bahru, There are a number of wholesalers which can supply almost any supplies for the cruiser, but they are not all easy to get to. It is a duty free port so beer and spirits are relatively cheap, compared to the prices in the rest of Malaysia. Most of the shopping is in the main town of Kuah, where the statue of the Brahminy Kite looms over the bay with anchored yachts, ferries and other craft. It is the symbol of the island group.
We have experienced a wide range of weather from 50 knot gales to sublime sunny days with afternoon sea breezes. There is always somewhere to shelter from the winds that can build up extremely quickly. The worst are line squalls, locally called Sumatras, because that is where they begin and can cause high winds and heavy rain, even thunder and lightning, at any time of the year. Their arrival is heralded by darkening cloud to the west and then a line of almost black cloud precedes the front. This is when to look for shelter. They can last for several hours.
The vegetation here is lush green forest – jungle. Monkeys, otters, enormous monitor lizards and many varieties of beautiful birds are a common sight along the shores and mangrove forests. The soaring fish eagles are favourites of ours and there are lots of them here as many of the islands are wildlife reserves.
Tourism is the main industry in the region. Many resorts have been set up along the most picturesque coastlines catering for all budgets. Tour operators ferry visitors to dive sites, eagle feeding and the famous cable car. There is no public transport on the island but there are taxis and you are able to hire cars and motorbikes at reasonable rates.
Anchorages in Langkawi
Pulau Singa Besar
N 6° 18.829
E 99° 50.857
N 06° 17.328
E 99° 52.230
N 06° 13.852
E 99° 44.381
N 06° 21.760
E 99° 40.638
This is a convenient anchorage for re-supplying.
There are customs and Immigration facilities here at the ferry wharf. It is quite a walk to any of the shopping malls.
Tie up the dinghy at the Tourist jetty and Sherin there will help provide many requirements – grog and fuel etc. We found her very helpful. The variety in the supermarkets is quite limited. We have found a few wholesalers and Kuah Fresh market to be the best places to find meat, fruit and vegetables of reasonable quality. There are hardware stores and a chandlery. Out of town there are repair facilities for outboard engines.
The anchorage itself is quite uncomfortable and can be very uncomfortable when a squall blows up from the west as there is a huge fetch across the bay between the islands. But it is OK in good weather and it is convenient.
Only an hour away from Kuah but is very sheltered from the westerlies – fortunately for us as this is where we were when a 50 knot storm hit the islands. It is a beautiful quiet little anchorage. We felt safe here apart from the current which inhibits anyone but the strongest swimmer to get into the water.
the beaches are small and are good to have a friendly barbecue and a swim.
About 10 miles away from Kuah, this island is a wildlife reserve. Once there were boardwalks around the shore and through the mangrove swamps of the deep bay in the north of the island. I am not sure if a tsunami or lack of maintenance has caused them to be in such a ruined state. There is good depth for anchoring in as far as the derelict jetty. After that it is very shallow. Lots of tour boats come in here to feed the majestic eagles. It is an amazing sight to see dozens of these magnificent birds circle and dip for food. Around the corner to the east is another popular anchorage where it is possible to go to the beach and this too is sheltered in the SW monsoon.
Here there are 3 options. The marina has berths for boats of all shapes and sizes. There are a few fore and aft moorings and then you can anchor outside the harbour in Pantai Kok and enjoy being able to go swimming and have the privacy that a little distance between boats can give. We liked it out in the bay at the western end of the artificial islands where there is protection from the ferocity of the storms (short fetch) and swell.
This anchorage is at the top of the island. The bay is quite open and the swell wraps around the headland to the west, making it quite uncomfortable, but tucked in behind the little islet on the western side of the beach it becomes almost bearable. There are two 5 star resorts in this bay and they which are friendly to yachting visitors, although RM20 for a beer was all too much for us, but the staff were lovely and the surroundings were beautiful.
An amazing maze of waterways through mangrove swamps and high limestone towers of rock. Entrance is through a narrow channel between rock cliffs, the “Hole in the Wall”. Inside it opens out to form a deep channel where there is room to anchor. There are hundreds of tour boats taking visitors to see the remarkable formations, feed eagles, have lunch, visit fish farms.
Around the corner from our anchorage there are a number of moorings and we were very surprised at how many yachts were moored there.
Great shelter from all directions. Bird and
monkey activity. A short dinghy ride to the
Lake of the Pregnant Maiden, a freshwater lake
with only a narrow rock barrier to the sea. There
is infrastructure for swimming and other water
activities in the lake. A short walk from the jetty
where tour boats tie up.
Magnificent high-sided islands nearby make
Yellow circle is us. (from top of the cable car)
N 06° 25.751
E 99° 40.037
Hole in the Wall
From the Datai resort at Pantai Datai
N 06° 24.984
E 99° 51.935
The Hole in the Wall
N 06° 11.139
E 99° 47.225