Incorporating the Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia… and more

Southeast Asia Pilot by Bill O’Leary & Andy Dowden

Malaysia West Malaysia, West Coast Palau Langkawi

Racer MarinaSailing Yacht AsiaIMAGE asia

On the northwestern shore of Peninsular Malaysia is the Langkawi archipelago. On the main island, Kuah – in Bass Harbour facing south – is the main town.

Kuah is the main administrative stop for customs, immigration and harbour department clearances for cruising yachts crossing the Thai-Malaysian border, just north of the island. Pulau Tuba is the only other inhabited island.

Passenger ferries depart hourly from Kuah Pier for the mainland, 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. From time to time budget airlines attempt to provide a service to Phuket but so far none have been able to make it profitable.

The Langkawi group, with its 104 islands and large sheltered Bass Harbour, offers plenty of protected anchorages in all wind and sea conditions. The holding is good in mud and sand and, in all but a few instances, is free of coral and rocks. Anchorages are usually close to the shore; so long dinghy rides are not necessary.

The anchorages in the Bass Harbour area have murky water, although the islands to the south have clearer water good for snorkeling.

Pulau Langkawi has been a duty-free port since 1987. Over the last few years, Langkawi has developed into a major yachting centre. There are three functioning marinas and various other bases servicing cruising yacht needs.

Apart from the main island towns, the villages are Islamic and an appropriate dress code should be adopted.

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, a marina with 200 berths taking vessels up to 60 metres length on the southeast side of the main jetty.

Anchorage space is also available anywhere in the bay. For visiting yachts not wishing to use the marina, the best dinghy access is found just south of the ferry jetty.

The RLYC marina offers plenty of amenities, including fuel on the dock, but has no slipping or hardstand. A waterfront swimming pool overlooks the marina. At the time of going to print, a major redevelopment of the club – to include a hotel and significant retail space – was awaiting completion. VHF Ch. 69. Ph +60 49664078.

There is a substantial township ashore, with alcohol, tobacco, electrical goods, chocolate and perfumes all on sale at duty-free prices within a 2-kilometre 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.

B PULAU BUMBON BESAR & PULAU TIMUN 1.6 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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. 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 Tanjong Dedang. This is a magical tiny circular anchorage surrounded by rainforest at 06° 25.133N, 99° 54.652E.

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 06°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 Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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).

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.

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 large enclosed circular anchorage.

Find yourself adequate swinging room and anchor in thick mud. Exploration of the many mangrove creeks by dinghy is a must.

There are fish farms and small restaurants near the jetty for great seafood and fried rice. WiFi is 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 two miles northwest to pass right through some caves.

On the other side, continue further through a steepsided blasted shale passage into the southern creek at the head of Tanjong Rhu. the dinghy trip through the mangrove creeks from hole in the Wall to Tanjong Rhu is six miles each way.

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 Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

TANJONG 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 Tanjong Rhu Resort and a few good restaurants.

Just around the headland to the east is a beautiful shallow all weather circular bay at 06° 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.

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.

E PULAU JEMUROK 22 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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.

F DATAI BAY 27 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

DATAI BAY. 06°25.855N, 99°40.174E

This bay is host to 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.

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 two-kilometre 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.

West & South Langkawi

G BERJAYA RESORT 17 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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.

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. A large area of open water behind the islands offers good anchorage and moorings in 3-5 metres.

The approach to 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.

Onshore next to the marina office is a café, bank, post office, service station and convenience store. A small CIQ facility has opened here to ensure security for regular backpacker runs to Koh Lipe, 30 miles north in Thailand. On the other side of the basin are a number of stern-to superyacht berths on a waterfront of 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

I REBAK MARINA RESORT 12 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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.

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.

Langkawi’s Tanjong Rhu (Anchorage ‘D’) - Photo by Di Ma Fadeev/shutterstock.com
Langkawi’s Tanjong Rhu (Anchorage ‘D’) - Photo by Di Ma Fadeev/shutterstock.com

J PANTAI SENANG & PULAU TEPOR 11 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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.

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, anchorage can be found in 5-6 metres just off the remote sandy beach at 06° 16.292N 99° 43.425E. There are no restaurants on the island but it provides great protection in the southwest season.

K AWANA PORTO MALAI 8 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

AWANA PORTO MALAI. 06°15.681N, 99°44.380E

Located on the southwestern tip of Langkawi, next to the private Star Cruises jetty, where world-class liners dock.

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.

The Awana Porto Malai (Resorts World Langkawi) has a distinctive Mediterranean feel with boardwalk, shopping and restaurants overlooking the southern islands.

Langkawi’s Sky Bridge cable car - Photo by Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com
Langkawi’s Sky Bridge cable car - Photo by Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com

L PULAU BERAS BASAH 9 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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.

M N O PULAU SINGA BESAR 8-11 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

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

The northeast anchorage at (M) 06° 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) 06° 12.331N, 99° 44.633E is a large open bay with good holding in 4-5 metres. 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) 06° 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.

P WEST PULAU DAYANG BUNTING 6 miles from Royal langkawi Yacht Club

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.

Q R S T U SOUTH PULAU DAYANG BUNTING 8-11 miles from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

SOUTH PULAU DAYANG BUNTING

The northern anchorage (Q) 06° 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) 06° 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 Princess Lake. (See Box). Inside are pontoons, cordoned off pools with easy exit ladders, dozens of pairs 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) 06° 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) 06° 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) 06° 10.111N, 99° 48.775E in 4-7 metres used by local fishing boats.

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.

Princess Lake

Legend has it that the waters from the lake inside Pulau Dayang can bestow fertility upon barren women. The lake was supposedly the favourite bathing place of a celestial princess.

one day a local prince chanced upon her while bathing and fell deeply in love with her. He sought the advice of a wise man who told him he should wash his face with the tears of a mermaid to win her love.

After they were married, they were blessed with a baby who died soon after birth and the princess then discovered her marriage was through trickery. After casting the baby’s body into the lake she blessed the waters with her magic fertility powers before returning to the heavens, never to appear again.

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.

The contents of this website may not be reproduced or copied in any form – printed, electronic, photocopy or otherwise – except for excerpts used in reviews,
without the written permission of the publisher.