SEAP Southeast Asia Pilot-1

Langkawi Island

Creek at Hole in the Wall
Creek between Hole in the Wall and Tanjung Rhu | Photo by Bill O’Leary

On the north-western shore of Peninsular Malaysia is the Langkawi archipelago made up of 99 islands, where all but two (Langkawi and Tuba) are uninhabited. Most of the mainly Muslim population of around 55,000 live on the big island, in and around Kuah town rimming Bass Harbour facing south.

Kuah is the main administrative stop for customs, immigration and harbour department clearances for cruising yachts crossing the Malaysian-Thai border, just three miles north of the island. The archipelago is lush with jungle and is a mixture of mountains, limestone karsts and granite boulders. It was granted exclusive Geopark status by UNESCO in 2007.

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Passenger ferries depart hourly from Kuah Pier for the mainland at Kuala Peris, Penang and the southernmost Thai port of Satun. The international airport has daily flights to Kuala Lumpur and regular flights to Had Yai and Singapore. At the time of writing Malindo Air had started providing flights to and from Phuket four times a week, although previous attempts to provide a service to Phuket have so far been unable to make it profitable.

The Langkawi group, with its 99 islands and large sheltered Bass Harbour, offers plenty of exceptionally protected anchorages in all wind and sea conditions. The holding is good in mud and sand and, in all but a few rare instances, is free of coral and rocks. Anchorages are usually close to shore; so long dinghy rides are not necessary.

The anchorages in the Bass Harbour area have murky water, with the islands to the south offering the clearest water for diving and snorkelling.

Pulau Langkawi has been a duty-free port since 1986 and, over the past decade, has developed into a major yachting centre. There are three functioning marinas and various other bases and haul out yards servicing cruising yacht needs.

Apart from the main island towns and beaches, the internal villages are conservative Islamic, so adopting an appropriate dress code accompanied by modest respectful demeanour is appreciated and valued.

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Langkawi Island chart
  • A

KUAH (BASS HARBOUR) & ROYAL LANGKAWI YACHT CLUB

455 miles from Singapore

KUAH (BASS HARBOUR) & ROYAL LANGKAWI YACHT CLUB 6°18.042N, 99°51.023E

The various official checking in and out offices are conveniently located at the head of the ferry jetty. Bass Harbour is home to The Royal Langkawi Yacht Club (RLYC) founded in 1996, a marina with 200 berths and two superyacht berths up to 60 metres on the southeast side of the main jetty.

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Anchorage space is available around 6-10 metres anywhere in Kuah Harbour Bay away from the ferry runs. For visiting yachts not wishing to use the marina, the best dinghy access is found just south of the CIQ ferry jetty at the smaller tourist boats docks.

The RLYC marina offers plenty of amenities, including limited fuel on the dock, but has no slipping or hardstand. A waterfront swimming pool overlooks the marina. Club facilities and restaurants are ashore. VHF Ch. 69. Ph +6049664078.

There is a substantial township ashore, with alcohol, tobacco, electrical goods, chocolate and perfumes all on sale at duty-free prices within a 2km taxi ride. There is also a street market (Pasa Malam) on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Close to the yacht club is the Sumadra shopping mall, the largest on the island.

Moderate quantities of diesel fuel are available on the long dock, although superyacht bunkering can only come from one of two fuel barges moored in Kuah Harbour. As the ferries regularly use the barge fuel, there is a good turnover of product and experience has proved the supply to be of good quality.

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B & V Marine Langkawi shipyard
B & V Marine Langkawi
Langkawi Shipyards

West of Bass Harbour (Kuah) on the main island there are three shipyards for various yacht work. From east to west these are Northern Shipyard at 6°18.374N, 99°48.167E with a 200-ton travel lift and all round good facilities www.northernshipyard.webs.com.

One mile southwest is B & V Marine, where yachts up to 12 tons can be hauled out easily by their crane and cleaned, repaired or stored long term on the concrete hard stand. Heavier yachts will require an outside crane per job on consignment www.bv-marine.com.

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Half a mile further southwest is the massive concrete slab for Boustead Langkawi Shipyard that caters to bigger commercial craft and select superyachts to 500 tons and up to 100 metres www.blsy.com.my.

Ramp and travel lift haul-out facilities with long term hardstand for pleasure yachts is also available a few miles further around and up at Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak at 6°17.690N, 99°41.834E. www.rebakmarina.com. All Langkawi based shipyards offer reasonable services at affordable rates.

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  • B

PULAU BUMBON BESAR & PULAU TIMUN

1.6 miles from RLYC

PULAU BUMBON BESAR & PULAU TIMUN 6°17.333N, 99°52.121E

Anchor in 4-5 metres on the east side of the island. Alternatively anchor closer to Langkawi Island, but well out of the main ferry channels that are marked.

Moving north from Pulau Bumbon Besar there are several small bays where anchorage is possible in 4-6 metres, depending on wind conditions. Most notable are Pulau Timun and its half-dozen small sandy south-facing beaches, assuring absolute privacy.

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A few miles south are the Pulau Tuba fishing village and Pulau Lintang Galan, where local styled restaurants provide Malaysian fare.Heading north there is a serene cul-de-sac up inside the channel between Pulau Langguan and Pulau Tanjung Dedang. This is a magical tiny circular anchorage surrounded by rainforest at 6°25.133N, 99°54.652E.

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Eastern Scenic Route

The most scenic and easily navigable passage north from Kuah up the east coast begins just past the flashing green light at the southern entrance to the harbour at 6°17.389N, 99°51.649E.

Turn northeast through the 100-metre-wide channel between the southern tip of Langkawi and Pulau Bumbon Besar.

Salet Pulau Balek, Selat Eanir and Salet Pangkor are the narrow channels leading to the northeast coast of the island.

Safe anchorage can be found virtually anywhere in the passage, which is well lit both port and starboard and has a minimum depth of 2 metres. We recommend Malaysian chart #5622 for more detail.

  • C

PULAU LANGGUAN & THE HOLE IN THE WALL

14 miles from RLYC

PULAU LANGGUAN & THE HOLE IN THE WALL 06°24.879N, 99°51.893E

Between Pulau Langguan and Langkawi is a scenic 8-10 metre deep channel from the north or south. Approaching from the south, stay well clear of the mud banks on the west by heavily favouring the deeper Pulau Langguan side until the entrance to the famous mangrove river on port.

On departure, heading north, deepest water is found on the west side of the channel. The mangrove channel running southwest narrows into the famous ‘Hole in the Wall’ (See Box).

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Hung high on the limestone wall at the starboard entrance are the words ‘Kilim Geoforest Park’, which is proudly hung because the area was endorsed by UNESCO in 2007.

This area of Langkawi has significant geological heritage status. The mandate celebrates and protects the karsts and rainforests formed here some 550 million years ago.

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 Entrance to The Hole in the Wall Langkawi
Entrance to The Hole in the Wall Langkawi Photo by Bill O’Leary
The Hole in the Wall − Langkawi

Just to the south of a small islet, west of Pulau Langguan and on the west side of the channel, is a creek opening, locally known as the ‘Hole in the Wall’. (Anchorage ‘C’)

Proceed into the entrance in 7 metres of water, staying in the centre of the ‘Hole’. Once inside the depth decreases to about 5 metres and the mangroves open up to form a spectacular enclosed circular anchorage. Find yourself adequate swinging room and anchor in thick mud. Exploring the many mangrove creeks by dinghy is a must.

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There are fish farms and small restaurants near the jetty for great seafood and fried rice. WiFi is even available.

If in doubt, follow the electrical supply wires by dinghy which can be seen hung along the rocks and through the mangroves. The main passageway will take you to a jetty with car park and taxi service to the rest of the island.

For the more adventurous, the mangrove passageways south and west lead to a number of limestone caves. The branch on the right starts at the fish farm and can be followed for a further 2 miles northwest to pass right through some caves.

On the other side, continue further through a steep-sided blasted shale passage into the southern creek at the head of Tanjung Rhu. The dinghy trip through the mangrove creeks from Hole in the Wall to Tanjung Rhu is six miles each way so best bring enough outboard fuel.

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North Coast Langkawi

The northern beaches and bays are arguably the most beautiful on Langkawi. We recommend only three spots, although it is possible to anchor virtually anywhere along this coast when conditions permit.

Never leave your vessel unattended here and be prepared to up anchor at any time, if conditions deteriorate.

Although the best beaches are situated along this coast, there are occasionally strong currents offshore and shifting sandbanks closer in.

  • D

TAN่JONG RHU

17 miles from RLYC

TANONG RHU. 06°27.753N, 99°49.227E

Anchor in 4-6 metres well clear of the reef around Pulau Kelam Baya. There is so much to do at this anchorage we recommend at least a few days here. The tidal currents here are often strong, so hang a line and float if swimming off the boat. Ashore are beaches, rivers, the Tanjung Rhu Resort and a few good restaurants.

Just around the headland to the east is a beautiful shallow all weather circular bay at 6°27.716N, 99°49.759E. Anchor in 4 metres off the jetty serving the radar station and use your dinghy. Looking south from here are three mangrove rivers. The southwest one is sandy and shallow with a jetty and floating docks housing dozens of shallow-draft high-speed outboard-powered tour boats.

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These race around packed with life-jacket-clad Asian tourists to photograph the shy Dusky Leaf Monkeys and feed the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. The middle river is where all this action happens. At eagle feeding time several dozen birds can be seen swooping down to collect food near the tour boats.

This same tributary winds another six miles through mangroves and small fishing communities before a tight channel cut through high rock ends up at ‘The Hole in the Wall’. Really worth doing by dinghy, but don’t underestimate the time and take extra fuel.

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  • E

PULAU JEMUROK

22 miles from RLYC

PULAU JEMUROK. 06°26.001N, 99°44.558E

Past the industrial area with long jetties is Pulau Jemurok at the mouth of a large sand and mangrove creek. Anchor just west of the north tip of the island for a nice lunchtime stop in 6-10 metres.

There is a private sandy beach on the southeast of the island or motor right up the mangrove creek to the fishing village at the head. There is a small waterfall within easy walking distance.

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  • F

DATAI BAY

27 miles from RLYC

DATAI BAY. 06°25.855N, 99°40.174E

This bay is host to recently refurbished The Datai and Andaman resorts, two of Langkawi’s most exclusive luxurious 5-star hotels.

Anchor in 3-7 metres on the west side of the bay in the southwest season. In the northeast it is better to anchor in the east side of the bay near the Andaman Hotel but beware of the shallow reef in front and go ashore in the centre of the bay.

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Use the dinghy to explore or swim in this spectacular bay, backed by an all-tide sandy beach and lush tropical rain forest. There is a strict smart-casual dress code in the hotels; management are happy for you to use their facilities as long as you pay.

The stunning architecture of these world-famous resort hideaways nestled in the dense jungle is definitely worth a visit, although all food and beverage outlets are expensive.

Air Terjun Temurun waterfall is only two miles west of this anchorage and can be enjoyed after a 2km road walk or by day-anchoring directly off the beach in 6-9 metres at 6°26.161N, 9°42.557E. Dinghy directly ashore, cross the road and walk the few hundred metres to the first pools for a refreshing swim. Take your camera.

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North Coast Langkawi

  • G

BERJAYA RESORT

17 miles from RLYC

BERJAYA RESORT. 06°21.744N, 99°40.037E

Anchor in 6-8 metres in front of the water chalets of the Berjaya Resort. This resort happily serves non-staying guests and there is a choice of other resorts with simpler amenities along the beach.

Also ashore is an excellent independent seafood restaurant, built on stilts at the northwest end of the bay. Prior reservations are essential and can be arranged through the kiosk at the end of the jetty. Remember to take adequate footwear as this beach has a rocky outcrop that you may want to cross.

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  • H

TELAGA HARBOUR MARINA

17 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

TELAGA HARBOUR MARINA. 06°22.029N, 99°41.043E

Two man-made islands have been built in Pantai Kok Bay to protect the entrance to Telaga Harbour Marina with Gunung (Mount) Mat Cincang providing a spectacular backdrop. A large sandy-bottom area of open water behind the islands offers good anchorage and some moorings in 3-5 metres.

The approach into the 67-berth marina leaves both of the artificial islands to port and there is a marked channel towards the lighthouse at the marina entrance. Entering the marina, the fuel and water berth is on the starboard side with local fishing boats tied alongside on port.

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Onshore next to the marina office is a café, bank, post office, service station and convenience store. A small CIQ facility ensures security for regular backpacker ferry runs to Koh Lipe, 30 miles north in Thailand. On the far interior of the basin are a number of stern-to superyacht berths on a waterfront of lazy restaurants and nightclubs.

Close by is the oriental village, which is at the base station of the Langkawi Cable Car and the Seven Wells waterfalls. The cable car goes in two stages to the top of one of the highest peaks on the island and has fabulous panoramic views.

This marina is our recommended stop for yachts cruising north or south without the detour into Bass Harbour. VHF Ch. 69.  www.telagaharbour.com

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Telaga Harbour, Langkawi
Telaga Harbour Marina, Langkawi | Photo by Bill O’Leary
  • I

REBAK MARINA RESORT

12 miles from RLYC

REBAK MARINA RESORT. 06°17.690N, 99°41.834E

Moving south from Telaga Harbour there are huge cement breakwaters, built to protect the resort beaches, in an arc across the bay, well offshore. Passing inside these breakwaters is not recommended.

The island of Rebak that forms the southern end of this bay has a marina with its entrance on the south side. The creek entrance at the south end of the island has been dredged to 2 metres at low tide. The lagoon-shaped marina presently caters for 190 boats up to 35 metres in fully serviced wet berths.

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There is room for a further 70 boats on the hardstand. Limited services are available but there is a 60-ton travel-lift. Contact VHF Channel 69. Outboard fuel is not available on the island and restaurant hours are sporadic.

There is also a small resort development with 40 rooms, pool, tennis courts, bars and all hotel facilities available for the use of yachting visitors. A speedboat ferry service operates hourly to and from the Lanka Suka Boat Club, giving access to the main island and the airport.

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  • J

PANTAI SENANG & PULAU TEPOR

11 miles from RLYC

PANTAI SENANG & PULAU TEPOR 06°17.368N, 99°43.040E

Anchor just south of Pulau Rebak Kecil in 3-6 metres well off shore, in front of the Pelangi Resort. Watch out for the rocks just north of Pulau Tepor, which are well marked on the local charts.

This bay is Langkawi’s main beach resort strip and, as such, has plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants ashore. This is also where you’ll find the main nightlife activity on the island, although nothing as raunchy as in Phuket.

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Unfortunately, the anchorage can be uncomfortable as occasional westerly ground swells roll into this shallow, somewhat open bay.

Further south, just to the east of Pulau Tepor, anchor in 5-6 metres just off the remote sandy beach at 6°16.292N, 99°43.425E. There are no restaurants on the island but it provides great protection in the southwest season.

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  • K

RESORTS WORLD LANGKAWI

8 miles from RLYC

RESORTS WORLD LANGKAWI & AWANA PIER 06°15.681N, 99°44.380E

Located on the southwestern tip of Langkawi, next to the private Star Cruises Call Port jetty, host to world-class cruise liners.

Anchor in 4-6 metres between Pulau Ular and Langkawi or motor around the breakwater into the 3-metre basin and short-term tie up along the floating dock.

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There are three smaller bays to the east in a knuckle-duster shape that are more private but the fringing reef extends out from these. Good rule of thumb is to draw a line between headlands and anchor outside that line in 3-7 metres on sand.

Ashore at the main anchorage, the Awana Porto Malai (Resorts World Langkawi) has a Mediterranean feel with boardwalk, shopping and restaurants overlooking the southern islands.

North of the jetty headland is popular Cenang Beach with Langkawi Underwater World and Pulau Tepor just offshore with three small silica sand beaches.

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  • L

PULAU BERAS BASAH

9 miles from RLYC

PULAU BERAS BASAH. 06°13.894N, 99°43.091E

This is a great anchorage in 5-7 metres between Pulau Kentok Besar and Pulau Beras Basah off the northern beach of the bigger island. Beware of the rocks at the western end of the bay.

There’s another more private beach around the western headland. Best on a rising tide. The sandy point mid bay has shade and is also a popular day stop for tour boats from Kuah.

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  • O

PULAU SINGA BESAR

8-11 miles from RLYC

PULAU SINGA BESAR. 06°13.595N, 99°44.911E

The northeast anchorage at (M) 6°13.595N, 99°44.911 has a long, fine white sand beach and is very sheltered in the southwest season. In the northeast there’s some fetch so best to tuck in behind Pulau Singa Kechil in 6-8 metres.

Further south on the east coast at (N) 6°12.331N, 99°44.633E is a large open bay with good holding in 4-5 metres on mud. Enjoy the excellent views of this wildlife sanctuary and nature reserve island with many local sea eagles and Bamity Kytes, and monkeys in residence.

The south facing bay at (O) 6°11.118N, 99°43.839E is another great spot when conditions permit. Anchor in 6 metres and check out the snorkelling and fishing around Pulau Chupak in the south of the bay.

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  • P

WEST PULAU DAYANG BUNTING

6 miles from RLYC

WEST PULAU DAYANG BUNTING. 06°14.472N, 99°47.298E

Anchor outside this calm and quiet bay in 4 metres on a muddy bottom. There is a small beach ashore with access to a cave and stream.

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    SOUTH PULAU DAYANG BUNTING

    8-11 miles from RLYC

    SOUTH PULAU DAYANG BUNTING

    Q | R | S | T | U

    The northern anchorage (Q) 6°12.636N, 99°46.225E is in 8-12 metres on a muddy bottom surrounded by beautiful remote bush-clad islands. Do not anchor too close to the reef. There is no beach.

    The anchorage at (R) 6°12.257N, 99°46.775E on a muddy bottom at 6-8 metres, is a well protected bay in the northeast season and gives access to the commercial speedboat and dinghy landing jetty. From here take the conventional path leading to the famous freshwater lake, otherwise known as the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. (See Box).

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    Inside are pontoons, cordoned off pools with easy exit ladders, dozens of paddle boats available for rent and entertaining schools of catfish to feed.

    To the south of the jetty, directly east of our anchorage at 6°12.200N, 99°46.962E the lake almost meets the sea again. More adventurous rogues can scramble over the 5-metre-high natural rock wall to swim privately and fill your jerry cans. A completely different, and some think a far better experience.

    Further to the south is a very picturesque channel between the small islands and the high cliffs, with deep water right though, leading to a well-protected anchorage (S) 6°11.152N, 99°47.248E in 8-12 metres between the shores of the two islands.

    Further east is a beautiful south-facing bay where anchorage (T) 6°10.999N, 99°47.967E in 4 metres gives good access to exploring the beach ashore and the indented cove to starboard with its small private beach.

    Proceeding around, leaving Pulau Ujung Buloh to the south, tuck in close in this wonderful protected anchorage (U) 6°10.111N, 99°48.775E in 4-7 metres used by local fishing boats.

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    Tasik Dayang Bunting
    (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden)

    Legend has it that the waters from the lake (also known as Princess Lake) inside Pulau Dayang can bestow fertility upon barren women. Centuries ago this fresh water lake was supposedly the favourite bathing place of the local princess Mambang Sari. A famous young warrior named Met Taja used to spy on her while she bathed. They eventually met, fell in love and had a baby son who did not live long.

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    Having reconciled with their misfortune they decided to travel back to the lake where they sank their son to allow him to rest in peace. At that time the Princess blessed the lake so that all women who swam in it would become more fertile. This legend has a strong following in Malaysia where many young women hopeful of conceiving still swim in its waters. To add to the mystery the hills behind the lake look like a pregnant lady lying on her back.

    This lake and surrounding area are part of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park and one of the three Geoparks of Langkawi with limestone, marble and several caves. The lake itself is a collapsed underwater cave linking to artesian fresh water chambers. It’s only ten metres from the ocean at the closest point – but it’s clean, clear, fresh water.

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    • V

    PULAU TUBA FISHING VILLAGE

    4 miles from Royal langkawi Yacht Club

    PULAU TUBA FISHING VILLAGE. 06°14.667N, 99°51.817E

    Anchor well out in the bay in 4-6 metres. At low tide, enter by dinghy to the long jetty and tie to a fishing boat to avoid the sharp barnacles. At the Malay fishing village there are basic restaurants ashore.

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    While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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    The copyright holders of all content, in print and digital editions, are: Published book © Phuket Publicity Services Ltd. Part. / Texts © Bill O’Leary, Andy Dowden & Grenville Fordham / Design, layout & charts © Grenville Fordham / Photography: © as indicated in photo credits. All rights reserved
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