Easily accessible by plane from Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi is an island which begs to be explored, as well as a firm favourite among tourists from all over the world. It can be difficult to know where to begin, so this guide aims to narrow it down to the best and most interesting spots.
Before diving into the best beaches in Langkawi, there are a few important things to know. Most public beaches line Langkawi’s western and northern coastline with many lacking public facilities such as changing areas. When looking at a map or planning an adventure around the island, two terms always appear: “pantai”, which means beach, and “jalan”, which means road. Most of Langkawi’s beaches use pantai in their name. Another term to be aware of is “pulau”, or island.
Langkawi’s longest and most famous beach hugs the western coast. The soft sand lined with coconut trees and resorts provides a view of Pulau Tepor and Pulau Rebak in the distance. Beachgoers can rent a sun bed for a few ringgits while various duty-free shops, restaurants and bars stretch along the street behind. Apart from relaxing and enjoying one of the most beautiful sunsets in Asia, we recommend a swim in the calm, warm waters.
Located to the south of Pantai Cenang (and often said to be a continuation of it, rather than a separate stretch), Pantai Tengah provides a spot with fewer tourists. While the beach itself feels less developed compared to its southern neighbour, visitors will have the opportunity to relax in relative privacy. Several water sports activities including banana boating and jet skiing start at Pantai Tengah.
Often rated the best beach in Langkawi for a luxurious holiday, Pantai Kok provides both gorgeous stretches of sand and a selection of high-end resorts. On the western coast near the Langkawi Cable Car, the beach area boasts a wide range of bars and restaurants, while those looking for romance can appreciate the sunset while enjoying a drink.
Hidden away on the northern coastline, Pasir Tengkorak provides a secluded place to enjoy the beach surrounded by forest. The clear water is suitable for swimming, and its relative isolation means visitors are likely to practically have the beach to themselves – just be aware of the roaming monkeys and anticipate a lack of facilities.
As the name suggests, the sand on this beach is black. Located a few kilometres southwest of the famous Tanjung Rhu, legends shroud this mysterious beach and its black sand – from stories of giant eagles and shipwrecks to geological wonders and ash from a burnt rice paddy – though nobody knows the real reason. Stroll along the beach and see a traditional wooden jetty serving the nearby fishing village that extends into the sea. Black Sand isn’t the best beach in Langkawi for sunbathing, but it makes for an interesting excursion.
Don’t worry, this small beach stretching just 200 metres (656 feet) isn’t Great White-infested – it actually takes its name from the stone shark statues dotted along the promenade. Despite its relatively small size, visitors often rate Teluk Yu one of the best beaches in Langkawi. The calm waters make an ideal spot for swimming while several restaurants and cafés line the promenade and the Langkawi Craft Complex sits a few minutes away. Shark Bay continues onto Black Sand Beach.
Before reaching Tanjung Rhu, visitors will pass along the road hugging the northern coast. The nearby stretch of sand, Jalan Tanjung Rhu Road Beach, offers an easy-to-reach spot to relax at the water’s edge. While the views might not be as stunning as those of its northern neighbour, it does provide an attractive spot for a few photographs.
Often ranking among the best beaches in Langkawi, Tanjung Rhu on the northern coast really is a sandy paradise. Picture white sand shaded by palm trees as limestone crags jut from the shallow waters. There’s a vast array of marine life, making it the perfect place to rent some snorkelling equipment, and several luxury resorts and hotels line the coastline. While this might be smaller than other beaches in Langkawi, it makes up for it with pristine conditions and gorgeous views.
Datai is very much the upmarket area on Langkawi, with a number of high-cost resorts. You don’t have to be a high roller to visit Datai Bay though, as the beach is open to the public and well worth taking the time to visit. The relative remoteness of the area means that this beach is quiet, pristine and belted by jungle and mountains, making for some great views while you swim in the warm, clear waters.
For a real taste of seclusion, why not leave the main island entirely and head somewhere a bit smaller? Pulau Tuba is about 5km southwest of the Kuah jetty. Unlike many similar surrounding islands, it isn’t privately owned, and anyone can go across. The only habitable area is taken up by a traditional fishing village, the rest is forest. The beach itself is immaculate, and you can spot a variety of rare tropical birds as you relax on the sand.
Perhaps the most famous attraction in Langkawi is the cable car, and what better way to follow it than with a trip to a quiet beach? Burau is a mere 10-minute walk from the cable car, and while the two edges of the beach are owned by resorts, the middle is open to the public. You can see a number of islands from the shoreline, and various migratory birds visit the trees which line the edge.
Batu Hampar is interesting in that it is very much a public beach, though since it sits so close to the Century Langkawi Beach Resort, you’d be forgiven for thinking they owned it (the many chairs and parasols daubed in their branding would appear to support this too). In truth, they don’t, anyone can hang out on this beach, and the rewards for doing so are great, with the mangrove trees surrounding the perimeter making for a unique atmosphere, and lots of fish to see if you’re packing a snorkel.
There’s more than just white sands on Langkawi, and although a pebble beach might seem like a poor cousin, this one has an edge because it’s so secluded that almost nobody knows it even exists. Hidden near the Temurun waterfalls, you have to walk an overgrown path to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with a short stretch of utterly deserted shoreline. Granted, the rocks make barefoot walking unadvisable, but the plentiful shade and seclusion make it a great spot to sit and relax, soothed by the sound of the waves.