Stunning sandy beaches of Langkawi

Pat Fama
Yahoo! Malaysia Editorial

More than two million tourists visit Langkawi every year, lured for the most part by the promise of sun, sea and sand. The island boasts a large number of beaches to choose from, each with its own character. Here’s a roundup of the best beaches on Langkawi, some very busy, others well off the beaten track:

Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah

The vast majority of tourists who comes to Langkawi stay at two adjacent sweeps of sand in the south west of the island, Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah.

Pantai Cenang

Pantai Cenang is the most developed beach on Langkawi with umpteen hotels, restaurants and shops. Despite the crowds - and the constant roar of speed boats and jet skis - it’s still far from being an unpleasant spot.

Pantai Tengah

Pantai Tengah is a lovely bay, with safe swimming, plenty of shade, and cracking sunsets.  It’s split into two beaches by a rocky outcrop, both of which get much less crowded than Cenang. Tengah can also boast a wide range of accommodation and dining options.

Pantai Kok

The next beach north of Cenang, Pantai Kok is as yet blissfully undeveloped. No hotels, no restaurants, no water sports, this is a great little beach. Easy public access is another point in its favour.

Burau Bay

The next bay round from Pantai Kok is Telok Burau, a pretty beach which is home to two resorts, the Mutiara Burau Bay and Berjaya. As long as you do not abuse their facilities, Berjaya tends to turn a blind eye to non-guests using the beach, assuming they even notice.

Pantai Pasir Tengkorak

Taking the road to Datai Bay in the north west, the first beach you will come to is Pantai Pasir Tengkorak. It’s a lovely spot, although it gets very popular with Malay families, so you may feel self-conscious about wearing skimpy swimwear.

Pebble Beach

Across the road from Datai Bay Golf Club, is a beautiful spot known as Pebble Beach. Try not to be put off by the name, as the beach has plenty of soft sand too. The downside of its remote location is that nobody clears up the litter.

Unnamed beaches

Next door to Pebble Beach are a series of unnamed bays, which attractive in a raw way, as well as offering a great chance to get away from it all. All those pebbles do not make for much comfort though.

Datai Bay

The road ends at Datai Bay, considered by many to be the most beautiful stretch of sand in Langkawi. Strictly speaking, the beach is only open to guests of the bay’s two resorts, The Datai and The Andaman. But this not strictly enforced at the latter, so long as you do not abuse their facilities.

Black Sand Beach

Heading towards the north east of the island, past the ugly cement factory, is the aptly named Black Sand Beach (Pantai Pasir Hitam). It’s popular with local folk and has a cluster of refreshment stalls.

Tanjung Rhu South

The north eastern finger of land known as Tanjung Rhu has some of Langkawi’s best beaches, with fine white sand and crystal clear water. The first stretch you come to is split between The Four Seasons to the north, and a public beach to the south.

Tanjung Rhu North

While the middle section of Tanjung Rhu Beach is strictly reserved for guests of Tanjung Rhu Resort, the most northerly beach is open to the public. You have to fill out a form at the checkpoint, but do not be put off, and this beach is well worth the hassle to get to. For my money, it edges Datai Bay as the best beach in Langkawi.