Can setting foot on 2 islands really be considered island hopping? That’s the kind of philosophical question I’d have to spend years meditating in an ashram to answer, but what island hopping in Langkawi lacked in islands it made up for in value.
Walking down Pantai Cenang, Langkawi’s main backpacker beach, I was immediately struck by 2 things. First, the excessive number of jet skis and banana boats; this was about as far from a relaxing tropical beach as you could get. Second, almost everywhere I looked a sign would magically appear advertising an island hopping tour. I’m pretty impressionable at the best of times, so obviously these ads eventually broke me down, and before I knew it I was heading for some hopping.
At 25 RM (around $10), my expectations for the tour weren’t exactly high. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and size of the boat; it was pretty small and they didn’t try and squeeze too many people in. There were around 10 people on my boat, a far cry from the titanicesque vessel I was on during an island hopping trip in Phuket. There were plenty of other boats around – this isn’t off the beaten path at all – but it was a pleasant kind of mass tourism.
First stop: The Lake of the Pregnant Maiden
Legend has it women who swim in the lake have an easier time getting pregnant. I half expected to see scores of lesbian couples hoping for a miracle; I guess even magic lakes have their limits though. The lake was a nice place to relax for a while, go for a swim or take a pedal boat trip on the lake. The island itself was really nice, just some jungle and a lake, and despite it being a popular stop on almost all of the island hopping tours in Langkawi, it retained its unspoilt feel.
Second stop: A crowded beach
The beach was ok, but I’ve seen better ones in Singapore, which definitely isn’t on anyone’s radar as a beach destination. It was a decent place for a quick swim but it was pretty crowded. The best part of the island was looking down into the water from the jetty and seeing lots of colourful fish. They only seemed to hang around the jetty though, and the closer you got the swimming area the murkier the water became. That was actually a bit of theme everywhere in Langkawi; almost all of the water I saw was murky and not particular inviting for swimmers.
Final stop: Eagles
The last stop on the island hopping in Langkawi tour was to watch some eagles being fed. This was way more fun than it sounds, as they were huge and there were so many of them. I’ve never been a big fan of birds; one of the biggest tourist attractions in my hometown is the albatross centre, but to me they are really just big seagulls. The eagles were something I’d never really seen before though, so it was good to get up close to them. We didn’t get to stop at the nearby island which was a shame, as it looked like an interesting place to explore.
I didn’t get a good photo of Langkawi’s eagles, so these eagles will have to do
Island hopping in Langkawi: The scenery
The best thing about island hopping in Langkawi is the area itself. It’s not unlike Ha Long Bay or Phang Nga Bay; basically lots of limestone mountains rising from the sea. I’ll never get sick of views like that, so even if the islands we stopped on were awful I would still have enjoyed the trip.
Another thing I really liked about the tour was that it was quick and to the point. It was finished by 2 pm, and when you’re only on a short holiday it’s great when an activity doesn’t take up the whole day.
Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) is a good place to stay if you are on a budget. The beach is pretty good (the water isn’t great though) and there are so many good places to eat. Alcohol is cheaper in Langkawi than most places in Malaysia because it’s a duty-free port. Accommodation can be quite expensive throughout the island; I stayed in a dorm room (which I usually try to avoid) but it was ok for a couple of days.
Langkawi isn’t quite what people have in mind when they think of an exotic island paradise, but there is so much to do there and it makes for an easy weekend trip from Singapore. The island hopping trip was a great way to see the surrounding islands, and at around $10 was extremely good value.
Further reading: Heading to Langkawi? Check out this guide!
Have you been island hopping in Langkawi, or anywhere else? Let me know!
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