By Vanessa of The Island Drum
Peninsular Malaysia has over ten popular islands just off its coastlines but for nature lovers Langkawi, Malaysia is a standout.
Despite Langkawi’s reputation as a beachy resort island, its natural topography is often overlooked by travellers keen on a dose of nature. In fact, nature greets visitors in abundance immediately upon arrival, whether arriving by boat or plane.
Ferry passengers are greeted by lush tropical islands and islets as the ferries weave their way to the main Langkawi terminal and flight arrivals are presented with bird’s-eye views of stretches of sandy, white beaches, picturesque rainforests and padi fields.
The Geopark That Is Langkawi
Langkawi’s natural beauty is one of the main reasons the 99-island archipelago was granted UNESCO Geopark status back in 2007.
Visitors often get confused as to the location of the ‘Langkawi Geopark’ when in fact the entire main island as well as the outer islands are considered ‘the Geopark’.
Geological monuments, protected geosites and more than 90 documented areas of geological diversity are grouped together to form three separate geoforest parks within the archipelago, which is where many of Langkawi’s ‘sightseeing’ venues and activities are also located.
Mat Cincang Cambrian Geoforest Park includes Mat Cincang mountain and gives new meaning to the adage ‘old as the hills’. The 550 million year old mountain is considered by many to be the actual birthplace of Malaysia!
This impressive mountain is over 700 meters tall and home to Langkawi’s most popular attractions: the Panorama Cable Car and Sky Bridge in Oriental Village (Langkawi’s answer to Disneyland, if you will). The vistas from the top (only reachable by cable car) are stunning and, on a clear day, visitors can see as far as Thailand’s distant Koh Tarutao.
Touring the Mangroves in Langkawi
Mangrove tours are generally focused in the Kilim Geopark Forest. A chance to explore them is an eye-opening experience for even the most well-versed nature aficionado. The mangrove ecosystem is one of the most diverse on the island, with the flora and fauna to prove it. The abundance of insects, crustacean and fish, which call the mangroves home is a smorgasbord for a diverse bird population, from Briminy Kites and Sea Eagles to colorful Kingfishers and more. Two varieties of bats can also be spotted ‘hanging around’ within the many limestone caves that are only accessible by boat or kayak. A quick tip: mangrove tours are much more interesting with a licensed knowledgeable guide, to get the absolute most from the experience.
Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park – A Visitor Favourite
Although there are actually 104 islands within the archipelago (99 at high tide) the nearby island of Dayang Bunting gets the most attention – not just because it’s part of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, but because it is also home to the legendary Tasik Dayang Bunting (better known as the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden). A drink from this mysterious fresh water lake is said to have helped many a barren female become pregnant. To drive that folklore-ish fact home, the mountain top looks very much like a pregnant maiden lying on her back.
Visits to Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park are usually included in the ‘Island Hopping’ boat tours as well as the family friendly jet ski tours of Mega Water Sports. It can be quite touristy during weekends and school holidays, but it is a lovely park with plenty of jungle plants to admire.
For those who prefer to set their own schedule, renting a car or motorbike will allow you to explore the local beaches and waterfalls at a leisurely pace.
Relaxing on the Beaches in Langkawi
Beyond the well-known Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) and Pantai Tengah, there are at least eight more beaches worth checking out. The pristine Pantai Tanjung Rhu being one of the last public beaches which offers a few undeveloped meters of white sand and inviting emerald green waters is at the top of the list, along with Pantai Teluk Datai (Datai Bay Beach).
The more remote beaches such as Pantai Kok, Pantai Teluk Yu (Shark Bay Beach), Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (Skull Sand Beach), Pantai Batu (Pebble Beach) and Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach) are all unique and worth exploring as some of their names are also indicative of, perhaps, colorful pasts.
Enjoying the Beauty of the Waterfalls in Langkawi
When it comes to waterfalls Langkawi has three that stand out, especially during the monsoon season when the cascades are especially abundant.
Telaga Tujuh Waterfall is actually visible from the nearby Panorama Cable Car. More commonly referred to as ‘Seven Wells’, this waterfall sees more than its fare share of visitors, regardless of rainfall, based on sheer beauty as well as convenient proximity to Oriental Village.
The 14-tier Durian Pergangin Waterfall and the more isolated Temurun Waterfall make for picturesque rest stops for visitors circumnavigating the island’s many back roads. You can expect to spot plenty of monkeys along the way, as they are especially attracted to picnic spots – but as cute as they are, feeding them is not advisable.
Trekking the Jungles of Langkawi
Langkawi’s natural gifts are also found deep in the rainforest or in secluded locations best visited with a licensed nature guide (for safety reasons as well as having the benefit of a local expert). Jungle trekking is offered by local tour companies at levels suitable for young children up to the serious mountaineer and they are guaranteed more than a few ‘wow’ moments.
Wildlife is plentiful in the Langkawi archipelago, with the over 200 species of tropical birds leading the pack. Monitor lizards, dusky leaf monkeys, macaques, flying lemurs; the list goes on and on.
With waterfalls and mangroves, beaches and jungles, it’s pretty clear that for anyone with an appreciation for nature, Langkawi will not disappoint.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vanessa is based out of Langakwi, Malaysia and created The Island Drum to provide information and awareness about the island and all the events, attractions and activities. Vanessa is also sharing her experiences travelling Peninsular & East Malaysia as well as Southeast Asia and beyond! You can also find her on Facebook & Instagram.
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