Looking for the best beach in Langkawi? This article aims to show you that Langkawi has a number of free public beach gems around the island (more than 10 in fact) and not just the well known Pantai Cenang!
Although most beaches in Langkawi are (theoretically) public and thus free to access, some resorts have purchased large sections of land, restricting vehicular access to the beach itself. Most of the beaches are located on the northern and western shoreline of Langkawi Island and it would be best to have your own transportation to reach all of these beaches, although using a Grab Taxi to get to a few would also be feasible put possibly a little more costly.
Langkawi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Western Malaysia. With so many options for cheap flights and boat trips to reach this wonderful (and duty-free!) island, it is entirely understandable why. While the main tourist area of Pantai Cenang is developing fairly fast and is almost entirely focused on tourism, the rest of the island remains laid back, rural and mostly inhabited by locals. This island is less than 480 km2 and can easily be circumnavigated by vehicle in a day. We first visited Langkawi Island in 2014 and returned to spend a month here in August 2019.
A Clockwise Tour of Langkawi's Best Beaches
(starting from Pantai Cenang)
Be sure to read all the way to the end as we’ll make a full circle and end with a hidden spot just south of Pantai Cenang! The word “Pantai” in Malay actually means beach, so look out for local signage or direction boards that indicate “Pantai …” and you’ll be sure to find a few other sandy white beaches you didn’t know about!
Click the MAP to go to Google Earth
Or download Google KML file HERE
Pantai Cenang Beach
(along Langkawi’s western coast)
Pantai Cenang is by far the busiest and most touristy beach on Langkawi Island. That being said, it is a fantastic 2km long slightly curved stretch of uninterrupted white sand beach located on the western shoreline of Langkawi and just a 10-minute drive from Langkawi International Airport. The wide sandy beach is lined with palm, coconut and other large trees providing plenty of shady spots to hang out in the midday sun. You can find all kinds of fun water sport activities ranging from gentle boat rides to racing jet skis or exciting parasailing. If you do consider parasailing, remember that this is a very risky activity and that it may be advisable to book with a reputable operator rather than making use of just anyone along the beach. You can find reviewed operators with Viator here. You can even go for a jet ski tour of the nearby islands which is guaranteed to be great fun!
The water at Pantai Cenang is calm, shallow and warm, so it’s a great place to take a swim or splash about. If all the water-sport activity is a little too much for you, you can walk north along the beach and easily find a more tranquil and relaxing spot as the activities are concentrated towards the southern end of the beach. One thing that makes this beach so appealing is, of course, the amazing view of the ocean and all the smaller islands close by. Although the water quality is fine for swimming, it is a little murky and unfortunately not crystal clear.
Most of the high-end hotels and resorts are concentrated in this area and it is a very convenient area to stay in. The beach is lined with a wide variety of accommodation including backpacker style rooms, chalets, bungalows and fancier hotels as well as beach bars, cafes and restaurants. This makes it easy to grab a snack, meal or drink along the beach. While water sports activities continue until sunset, it is after sunset that these places come to life with tables and candles being brought onto the beach for some romantic (and slightly cheesy) settings! Being a duty-free island, drinks are cheap and freely available at most beach-side cafes where you can enjoy some live music and fire performances until late into the night. Although there is an evening vibe, it’s not a crazy party scene.
One thing to note is that there are currently no public toilets or changing facilities at Pantai Cenang Beach. If you are really desperate, you can ask one of the hotels to use their facilities and they will most likely oblige. Although it is considered a family and child-friendly beach, be aware of both the racing jet skis in the shallow waters and also support vehicles racing along the beach as these could catch small children unaware.
If you are feeling adventurous, apparently at low tide you can walk across to Pulau Rebak Kecil. Just be warned that the tide only remains low for a couple of hours so if you don’t get back in time you may just get stuck there! Be sure to take enough water and sunscreen as there’s nothing on the smaller island and you are exposed all the way.
Although the busiest and most touristy beach, we still like this area of Langkawi as it is easy to find budget accommodation within walking distance to the beach as well as within walking distance to convenience stores and many local eateries. If you want to stay somewhere (other than a resort) where you do not need your own transportation, we recommend this as the most suitable area of Langkawi.
How to enjoy Pantai Cenang on a Budget
If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend popping into one of the many convenience stores along Jalan Pantai Cenang to grab some beer (or other drinks), for about half the price compared to from a bar on the beach, and then sit and relax either along the beach walk or on the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the ocean. Depending on the season, if the sun is aiming to set behind the island of Pulau Rebak Besar, just walk further north to see it setting over the sea instead! It will also be much quieter along this section of beach. If you’re going DIY sunset style like us, then grab a bargain takeaway pizza from “Pizza on Fire” to enjoy with those cheap beers and sunset!
Best Value for Money Island Hopping Tour of Langkawi
One of the best half-day outings that you can do from Pantai Cenang is a 3-4 hour island-hopping boat tour. This really doesn’t break the bank and is a fantastic way to see some of the nearby islands such as Pulau Dayang Bunting where you can swim in the freshwater Pregnant Maiden Lake, Pulau Singa to feed the famous Langkawi Eagles and Pulau Beras Basah to enjoy yet another beautiful white sandy beach.
You can find plenty of booking agents along the main street just off Pantai Cenang beach to arrange a trip or you can book a tour online.
Spoil Yourself with a Langkawi Sunset Cruise
Being budget travellers, we did not do this ourselves. However, a sunset cruise with ocean swimming in the clear warm waters and BBQ dinner with drinks sure does sound good!
(along Langkawi’s western coast)
This is a very small beach area at low tide right alongside the airport and roadside parking area. The area under the trees is lined with small local Laksa stalls which come to life in the late afternoon and evening. Although not a glamorous beach, this can be a fairly secluded spot during the morning and midday.
(along Langkawi’s western coast)
Situated only 12km north from Pantai Cenang, the public section of this beach is actually located south of what is indicated on Google Maps, closer to Telaga Harbour Marina. The smaller bay (indicated at Pantai Kok) has been acquired by a hotel and vehicular access is no longer possible to the public. The larger bay, just opposite Seratosa Island and NAAM Sports Island, is a lovely long and wide stretch of white sand with a grassy park area with large trees behind it providing much-wanted shade. You can access this area either from the south, just adjacent to The Danna Resort or from the north at Teluk Burau, where there is a small parking lot and a few local vendor style eateries where you can grab a bite to eat, cold drink or ice-cream. Be sure to stop by here if you visit the Langkawi Cable Car as it right nearby.
The water here is a little clearer than the nearby Pantai Cenang and the beach offers spectacular views of the bay with the many islands on the horizon. The mountains behind the beach are covered in rain forests which make this beach rather special. When we were there in August, the beach was almost entirely deserted, so if you’re looking to escape the crowds of Pantai Cenang, but still want a long sandy beach with shade, then this is a great option for you.
There are water-sport activities on NAAM Sports Island (Paradise 101) which is currently run as a Private Island Day Resort for which you can purchase various package deals here. This is a great way to keep the whole family entertained for a day!