Diving Langkawi

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Langkawi, Malaysia

Sunset-in-Langkawi.jpg

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Country: Malaysia  Area: Southeast Asia

Water Temp: 28 - 0°C (82 - 32°F)

Visibility: 5 - 45m (16 - 148 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 30m (16 - 98 ft)

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Located on the northwestern shore of Malaysia, Langkawi is situated just where the Indian Ocean narrows down into the Straights of Melaka.  Against a backdrop of mountains are forests, waterfalls and beaches with warm temperatures throughout the year.

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Langkawi has many reefs, unusual underwater rock formations and a varied marine life.  With opportunities for divers of all levels, Langkawi and the Andaman Sea offer good visibility (often exceeding 30m or 98ft and up to 45m or 147ft), an average surface temperature of 28C (82F) and a thriving ecosystem.

 

Marine Conservation

Various marine conservation efforts are being made in Langkawi.  As of 2013, there were mangrove planting activities, beach clean ups, and a plan is underway to regenerate some 8000-year old fringing reefs that provide home and shelter to a huge number of fish in the region.  At the Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, coral clearing, reef walking and coral feeding activities are carried out to conserve the natural marine habitat and provide further education and knowledge to younger generations.

Langkawi Port, Credit

Climate

Langkawi is a year-round destination with much the same tropical temperature of between 25 and 32C (between 77 and 89F), but some months are affected by heavy rain.  Dry season is usually from mid November to mid April, mid-season runs from April to August with light precipitation and rainy season is from September to November, during which it rains every day for about 2 hours and at night. Peak tourist season is during the dry season, although prices drop during the rainy season and there can be great deals for low budget travellers.  The best diving time also runs during the dry season and visibility is better.

Re-growing coral at The Andaman, Langkawi, Credit

 
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The Diving

There are no diving spots in Langkawi itself but the following are good options and easily accessible for a day trip.

Pulau Payar Marine Park

This comprises of 4 emerald-green islands - Pulau Payar, Pulau Segantang, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Kaca.  Pulau Payar has some vivid soft corals to observe.  The most popular dive sites at Payar Island - Coral Garden, Grouper Farm, Lobster Garden, Porite Garden and Raaf Beach, are home to fusiliers, jacks, black tip sharks, barracudas, groupers, damsels, lionfish, lobsters and moray eels.

Underwater, Langkawi, Credit

Kaca Sunken Wrecks

Here lie the wrecks of dozens of fishing boats that were confiscated, thus creating an artificial reef with hard coral.  Located on the east side of Pulau Payar and not far from Langkawi Island, the wrecks are home to many creatures and invertebrates, mollusks, nudibranches and fish.  They're also very easy wrecks suitable for all divers.

Grouper Farm

The maximum depth of this site is 15m (49ft) with a sandy bottom that houses groupers and many small fish schooling to protect themselves from the groupers.  Barracudas are often seen and as the current is usually quite light, easy and relaxing drift dives are possible.

 

Pulau Segantang

This site is 13km west of Pulau Payar.  Two rocky outcrops go down to about 20m (65ft) where there's a sandy bottom.  Along the rocky slopes are beautiful hard coral and sea fans around 15m (49ft) deep, nurse sharks, puffer fish, scorpion fish, fusiliers, barracudas, schooling jacks, lobster and moray eels.  Access to the site is via the shore and dives are possible all year.

Coral Garden

The southwestern tip of Pulau Payar offers a panoramic coral garden with steep canyons and crevices dropping down to around 18m (59ft).  Marine life includes morays, lionfish and puffer fish.  The rocky terrain is rich in soft coral and among the boulders are many fish including damselfish, snappers and fusiliers.  Green moray eels and black tip sharks are also common.

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How to Get there

Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia operate daily flights from Kuala Lumpur. Visitors from Singapore can use Silk Air, which flies directly to Langkawi on a daily basis.  Ferries operate four routes to Langkawi from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang and Satun in Thailand around the clock.

Langkawi Airport, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Popular eating destinations in Langkawi include Kuah Town, Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah and Pantai Kok.  The food ranges from barbequed shrimp to burgers and seafood platters.  The Brasserie serves Mediterranean-inspired offerings while the Pavillion has authentic Thai cuisine. The Langkawi Fish Farm Restaurant is a seafood eatery surrounded by a vast garden area.

The beach & the boats, Credit

Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah have cocktail bars, pubs and clubs.  The Sunset Deck has a huge open-air seating area on a wooden platform and a selection of cocktails, wines and liqueurs.  The Yellow Cafe is a standout beach bar with hammocks. The Sunba Retro Bar is open until the wee hours of the morning and is a mega-dance club that's a good meeting place over a few drinks in the evening.

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Other Activities

Non-divers or those who prefer being out of the water can take a trip up Langkawi Cable Car, a vertiginous 15-minute ride to the top of Mt Cincang with breathtaking views of lush rainforests and miniscule islands.  Visitors can grab a quick bite, browse the souvenir shops and take photos.   There are also island hopping tours or visits to Langkawi Bird Paradise (with over 2,500 bird species) or Underwater World Langkawi, Malaysia's largest aquarium with more than 500 animals and sea creatures.

Cable car ride to Mt Machinchang starts here, Credit

Family Friendly

Kampong Bukit Kemboja is becoming popular amongst families with young children to go on a nature cycling outing.  The cycling trail meanders along the Melaka river and the rice fields of middle Langkawi where you can see buffaloes and cows.  The trails are flat and safe from normal traffic. A crocodile farm and the islands natural sites and mythical stories also add a magical element for children.

Langkawi Mangrove Kayak Adventure, Credit

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

On a general note, while in Asia, please do not support Elephant abuse by riding Elephants or supporting Elephant performance.

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • The 'training' Elephants go through to become a part of the tourism industry involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • That said, there is responsible Elephant tourism to be found in Asia, a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings it basically means the Elephants have undergone horrific abuse in order to get there

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry; the main problem is a lack of awareness.

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips

 Be careful over the sandy bottom at the Kaca Sunken Wrecks dive site - it is full of sea urchins!

Kuan Town, Langkawi, Credit

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