Tag Archives: Langkawi

Those Tropical Sunset Cruises

Langkawi’s archipelago is comprised of 99 islands (104 at low tide!) with towering limestone cliffs, tropical rain forest, coral reefs and deserted beaches. To appreciate this beauty even more, an offshore excursion is just the ticket.  Exploration of those outer islands and the views from the sea can be experienced with day or sunset cruises and they are a lot more affordable than most people realize.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Tropical Charters of Langkawi offers day and sunset cruises that are not only reasonably priced, the memories will indeed be priceless. Tropical Charters’
55′ catamaran Seasation is just the vessel for your introduction into the world of offshore cruising.
As you board Seasation from the dock at Porto Awana the crew is on hand for assistance as you gain your sea legs and will put even the most first-time-on-a-boat-land-person at ease. On a sunny afternoon the upper deck is a bird’s eye view of the surrounding vista or the comfy lounging mats on the foredeck beckon the sun lovers. Even with the maximum capacity of 60 people on board this large vessel never feels crowded and you’ll find the perfect spot to call your own.

Mixing and mingling on Seasation is a guaranteed good time!

Mixing and mingling on Seasation is a guaranteed good time!

Once the Captain orders the lines cast off, the crew comes around to offer  beverages of choice; cocktails, beer, wine, juice or soft drinks. Passengers have already settled into ‘cruise control’ comfort as the Seasation glides past the harbor entrance into the main channel towards the setting sun.  An easy and effortless introduction to cruising the islands is what this adventure is all about as well as a chance to see some spectacular scenery.

Ahh..the archipelos.

Ahh..the archipelos.

As Seasation enters the calmer and the more protected outer island channel the crew launches a large rope net behind the boat to create what has become known as the ‘Saltwater Jacuzzi’. The net is slowly pulled through the water as the boat continues its journey in amongst the islands. Even for the more faint at heart the crew is always on hand to assist you in and out of the net!

'Red Sky" at night, sailor's delight.

‘Red Sky” at night, sailor’s delight.

The aroma of the barbeque wafting through the galley is the perfect addition to the sunset cruise experience, as Seasation turns her bow turns to the western horizon with the sun  slowly makes its sunset decent. The Captain announces that dinner is on and yes dinner is on! A huge spread of Satay, Chicken and Prawns hot from the grill, Beef Rendang, Salads, Nasi Goreng and a variety of noodle dishes such as Mee Goreng Mamak are spread out on the long buffet counter in the main cabin ‘family’ style.

Tasty BBQ!

Tasty BBQ!

After the last remnants of the meal are cleared away platters of fresh fruit are brought around as the beat of the music from lower cabin’ speakers creates a floating dance party Tropical Charters style. And for those who don’t have ‘dance fever’ the upper deck and front of the boat offer a respite from the often lively crowd within.

No dance partner needed!

No dance partner needed!

Sea air, good food, beautiful tropical islands drifting by as the sun sinks as a
fiery red globe beneath waves. The Red Sky  at night is indeed a sailor’s delight and reaffirms that Langkawi’s archipelago is truly paradise.

Tropical Charters
Kedai No. 3, Jalan Telok Baru, Pantai Tengah, Langkawi
Tel: (04) 955 3407 / H/P: (01 )2 588 3274
Fax: (04) 955 4407

Jet Skis: the good, the bad and the just plain fun

Jet Skis are present everywhere these days and many only see them as the loud crafts that speed up and down the waterfront invading erstwhile swimmer’s  space. Some would like to see them banned from certain areas all together due to the noise, pollution and potential danger to wildlife (and people). But there’s another side to Jet Skis and what they offer, especially in Langkawi.

Low emission jet skis? Who knew!?

Low emission jet skis? Who knew!?

Mega Water Sports is one of the newer and ‘eco-friendly’ operators on the Island. They have invested in a fleet of low emission Jet Skis that reduce sound levels, air and water pollution. They also enforce a pragmatic safety program and everyone that contracts with Mega Water Sports goes through a comprehensive safety orientation. So no shore-line trick riding for these folks.

Learning the secret safety signals prior to take off.

Learning the secret safety signals prior to take off.

I was a bit skeptical about this new sightseeing vehicle, especially in Langkawi.
But I have to say that Mega Water Sports not only cares about the environment, they’ve opened up an entirely new way to see the magnificent islands and geological formations of the Langkawi Archipelago.

Saying hello to one of those 99 magical islands.

Saying hello to one of those 99 magical islands.

It’s also their policy to keep the tours away from populated beaches as much as possible, as well as reducing speeds when near those shore lines. And just in case an occasional errant ‘rebel-rider’ has other ideas, each of these top-of-the-line Jet Skis also has a speed governor to prevent riders from exceeding a safe speed limit.

Most guests can appreciate their responsibility to follow the 'rules'.

Most guests can appreciate their responsibility to follow the ‘rules’.

Before you board your Jet Ski you go through a briefing on water safety, how the tour is going to work, how the Jet Ski is run and how you deal with issues that may arise once you’re out on the water. Trained staff members explain this in an easy to comprehend ‘first-timer’ language.

Proper jet ski operating is explained in detail.

Proper jet ski operating is explained in detail.

The staff spends up to a month in training before being awarded the position of a tour operator. This training includes water rescue, evacuation procedures and how to deal with sometimes unruly participants. Alcohol and Jet Skis don’t mix and there’s a zero tolerance policy at Mega Water Sports.

Guides you can trust!

Guides you can trust!

Having a slight prejudice from my own shore based experience of witnessing
Jet Ski rider antics; I was surprised by just how much fun this form of water adventure can be. Especially when done responsibly. This was obvious by my ear-to-ear grin as I followed the tour leaders across the water. Seeing the outer islands on a jet ski brings you much closer to the surrounding offshore nature and it’s certainly a “Wow” experience well worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime.

A stop at the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden.

A stop at the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden.

Running almost underneath the tall limestone formations, taking a swim out in the bay and seeing sea life and birds such as the Sea Eagle and Brimini Kite fly in formation was an eye opening experience.  The guides take great care not scare the wildlife and travel as unobtrusive as possible into their environment.

The tranquility of an offshore island.

The tranquility of an offshore island.

Using a Jet Ski to explore places that are not as approachable by more conventional craft opens you to new insights and creates a better understanding of the complex environment of the Langkawi Archipelago. It’s educational as well as fun and often times those ‘rebel’ riders give Jet Skiing a bad rap, so signing on with a reputable company helps ensure higher standards.

It's great for families too!

It’s great for families too!

Jet Ski tours at Mega Water Sports are best booked directly through their website or by phone if you’re looking for the best price. But this is one experience where you’ll not question the value for the ringgit. And remember, although reputable companies may be a bit more pricey there’s a direct correlation in proper equipment maintenance and staff training to ensure the balance between safety and savings.

Mega Water Sports
Pantai Cenang (behind Orkid Ria Restaurant)
Tel: (60)1 2389 0801 / (60)1 2200 2155



Cruising the Andaman Islands: Langkawi to Phuket

One of the options of getting from Langkawi to as far as Phuket, in one day,
is by high-speed ferry. This window of opportunity is only available from about late October-early November to late April-mid May, due to seasonal winds and waves. I’d seen the service advertised but couldn’t quite source the precise information, so I  dropped into a local travel/tour agency hoping to fill in the gaps.

A treasure map of travel options!

I didn’t just walk into any old travel agency, I hit pay dirt and landed unknowingly into Global Steps Holidays and the office of Andaman Cruise in Pantai Cenang, the Langkawi representative for Tigerline Travel. I’d heard from others’ experiences that the long distant island hops weren’t always pleasant, so I had to experience it for myself. My goal was to go to round-trip from Langkawi to Koh Lanta and ‘blog’ the experience. So here’s how it works…

That 08:30 Langkawi check-in is amazingly fast.

You can book a ticket online for pick up from any island point from Langkawi to Phuket, but booking a Langkawi outward bound  speed boat to high-speed ferry sojourn can also be done in person one-day prior to departure.
Sure, you can save a little money by booking on-line, but if you’d rather be spontaneous and come face-to-face with real people? Let it be known that this option is available at  Global Steps Holiday / Andaman Cruise.

The very busy Porto Awana.

There are some inclusives in this arraignment and some non-inclusives, so please take note. Hotel pick up at the beginning of your journey is included, but not included for incoming (arrivals to Langkawi). It won’t cost you an arm and a leg, it’ll simply be the taxi-van fare share from Langkawi immigration’s office to where ever you choose.

Escort service from Langkawi to Koh Lipe includes these funny guys.

Any long-tail pick-ups en-route from ferry to shore will be 50-baht, payable to the local talent. It’s also wise to change some ringgit into baht prior to departures to Thailand or baht into ringgit for arrivals into Malaysia. Why? For food purchases along the way or taxi rides when hitting land. Expect to deal in appropriate currency and don’t expect to meet a new ‘friend’ on shore who will give-you-a-better-exchange-rate-because-you–live-a-charmed-life. Do expect, the unexpected.

Good-bye, Langkawi!

Ok, enough about that.  Check in time for a Langkawi departure is 8:30am sharp, before heading to immigrations. Transportation will be arraigned for you ahead of time and is included. After immigrations you’re taken to Porto Awana, the luggage is loaded, and you’ll be outward bound by 9:30am-ish.

From transfer from speed boat to Koh Lipe dock, can be tricky.

Occasionally winds and currents can alter precise time schedules, so keep that in mind and try not to moan, “We’re late!” And try not to check your watch every three minutes; you’re on holiday so enjoy the trip. Thailand is also an hour behind Langkawi, so you’re going to gain an hour. Or lose an hour depending on your travel destination. It’s at this point I should recommend you give yourself plenty of time to catch pre-booked flights, etc. Even if some kind soul told you, “Oh, you’ll have plenty of time!” expect the unexpected.

Koh Lipe immigration check-in delivery, via ‘traditional’ long-tail.

There’s a quick immigration stop in Koh Lipe for official Thailand entry, if you’re heading onward and Koh Lipe drop offs and pick-ups as well. By 10:30am (Thai time) and a quick transfer to the Tigerline Travel’s high-speed ferry, you’ll be on your way heading north for a very scenic journey of the Andaman Islands.

You can’t beat great staff like this!

Here’s where I need to forewarn you again. There may be some small athletic maneuvers required when going from speedboat to docks or long-tail boats and a potential to get wet (or drenched), so practical shoes and waterproofing would be to your advantage.

This would be the ‘modern’ long-tail pick-up.

The next actual dock landings are at Had Yao Pier, Koh Lanta, Ao Nang and Phuket. Any island transfers in between will be from ferry to long-tail boat, this is where the practical shoes, waterproofing and baht-on-hand advice comes in again.  These long-tail boat taxis are arraigned ahead of time from Tigerline connections on shore, so rest assured you aren’t being delivered to a ‘stranger’.

Empty seats can equal a great napping spot later!

From Langkawi to the Had Yao Pier will take about 4-hours or so, and the only food available will be a few drinks and snacks for purchase (with baht) on-board the ferry. You’ll be fine if you’re a Pringles fan, but for something more substantial you’ll be glad you have those baht on hand when the boat hits Had Yao Pier. Within seconds of docking, locals come aboard selling fresh fruit, drinks, sandwiches and a variety of homemade goodies. And remember the next dock stop and food source will be in Koh Lanta another 3-hours away.

Had Yao Pier drop-off, pick-up and food!

The expected 6-hour-plus journey to Koh Lanta for me was Internet-free time well spent.  Arriving about 4:30pm actually was later than ‘scheduled’, but not a problem; my agenda was ‘no agenda’.  There’s also plenty of walking room and ample space on the Tigerline ferries, inside as well as the upper deck, so you won’t feel claustrophobic. You could even go top-side and re-enactment the Titanic’s  “I’m King of the World!” scene if you feel inspired.

The much appreciated Had Yao Pier welcome wagon.

On a sunny day, the view is spectacular and the rather loud engine noises eventually become background rumblings. I personally wish I’d gone all the way to the end of the line in Phuket, but there’s always next time. Or the time after that. But wait! I’ve got one more tip for you.
If you happen to be going ’round-trip’, don’t let anyone keep your paper work unless they give you some sort of proof of purchase/reservation document to replace it. It could be a problem for you on the intended return trip.

The less dramatic version of, “I’m King of the World!”

Although the window of opportunity is roughly November to mid-May there are eleven possible points of exploration  through the Andaman-Tigerline connection and a superb option for travel and adventure.  The prices will vary depending on destination points and there are occasionally on-line ‘specials’ to take advantage of, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

The Koh Lanta arrival is smooth sailing.

And just an added note here; although there are other Langkawi companies that can get you to Koh Lipe, the Andaman Cruise-Tigerline Travel connection is the only one whose time schedule allows you to bypass an over night Koh Lipe stay and travel onward in the same day. Bon voyage!

Andaman Cruise
Tigerline Travel