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Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping water sports, go-kart racing, zip lining or simply a relaxing massage, Malaysian archipelago Langkawi has more than enough activities to satisfy the most adventurous spirit. Ben West is your guide to the best ways to get those endorphins rushing.
At almost 500 square kilometres (193 square miles), Langkawi Island is the largest island on Malaysia’s west coast. Laid-back, with a host of lovely beaches and unspoilt mountainous jungle, it is the perfect base for a relaxing holiday. It doesn’t have to be too relaxing though – with plenty of exciting activities on offer, you’ll never get bored.
Soaring high above the rainforest, the 2.2 kilometre-long (1.4 mile-long) Skycab cable car ride carries you almost to the top of Machinchang mountain, 708 metres (2,323 feet) above sea level. You can upgrade to a glass-bottomed gondola or private VIP gondola to make the 15-minute ride passing thick jungle and tumbling waterfalls even more special. At the top you can stroll The Skybridge, a curved 125 metre-long (410 foot-long) suspension bridge and walkway above a chasm, boasting panoramic views of Langkawi and surrounding islands.
Another exhilarating way to experience Langkawi’s rainforest is to fly through it, using zip-lines. Umgawa Zipline Eco Adventures’s zip-lines fixed to the towering trees reach as high as 80m (263ft) and are up to 200m (656ft) in length. But don’t worry, you’re strapped in and safety is paramount. Umgawa’s immersive and engaging two-hour tour encompasses bridges to cross and no less than 12 zip-lines, including one overlooking the spectacular Seven Wells Waterfall.
Langkawi is part of an archipelago of around 100 islands, so what better way to explore than by jet ski? Spend an afternoon island-hopping on one of these high-powered machines, zooming past tall limestone cliffs, visiting islands like Pulau Dayang Bunting (which has a freshwater lake, perfect for a refreshing swim), and Pulau Beras Basah with its sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, framed by a lush mountain backdrop. Rest assured that the staff at Langkawi’s Megawatersports Jet Ski Safari are very safety-conscious, ensuring riders keep to a safe arrow formation, and slowing down when approaching land.
Watching the sun go down from a boat surrounded by beautiful islands, accompanied by good food, with a refreshing drink from the open bar and some good music is hard to beat. And you can spice it up with a dip in the water using the trawling net attached to the back of the boat as a safety harness. You may spot spinner dolphins and flying fish as the Avante Yacht glides through the crystal-clear warm blue waters.
Langkawi’s elegant colonial-style Danna Hotel has an inviting spa overlooking lush greenery and a marina. The range of treatments include a Malay Urut traditional massage. After choosing a fragrant botanical massage oil focusing on serenity, recovery, vitality or clarity, you are given expert deep pressure massages using special traditional Malay techniques that are passed down over generations. A truly energising experience.
A really special way to experience Langkawi is on horseback. You don’t have to be an experienced rider, as Island Horses Langkawi has riding sessions for all levels, including novices. Located at the Perdana Stables, which extend over 1.6 hectares (four acres), there are different itineraries and time durations to choose from, including 15-minute fun rides led by rope and challenging jungle rides of two hours or more. You’ll be accompanied by a guide, who will explain about the history, wildlife and geographical features along the ride. You can hit the beach or meander through the kampung (local villages) – the choice is yours!
Pantai Cenang is one of Langkawi’s most popular beaches, and you will find a range of water sports on offer such as paddle boarding, wake-boarding, scuba diving, banana boats, snorkelling, jet skiing and paragliding. Naam Sports offers parasailing, where you launch and land from their boat that is especially designed for parasailing – be aware that launching from the beach itself is illegal and unsafe.
At Morac Adventure Park, just minutes from the airport (perfect for transit passengers), you can race your friends on a modern Sodi SR4 kart on a newly revamped go-kart track. Twenty-one exciting turns will challenge your driving skills and add to the thrills. And you can cool down afterwards with a chilled drink and bite to eat at the onsite Hot Laps restaurant.