Only four of these islands, including Langkawi Island – the largest – is inhabited. Langkawi Island was only developed in the 1990s, and transformed quickly from a sleepy backwater into a world-class destination.
This boom coincided with the supposed lifting of a 200-year-old curse. Legend has it that a young woman named Mahsuri, who was falsely accused and executed for adultery, cursed the island with bad luck for seven generations.
Myths and fables aside, Langkawi’s spectacular landscapes are ideal backdrops for adventures every type of traveller can enjoy.
Embrace the sun, sea and watersports
Langkawi’s more secluded sandy shores like the gorgeous crescent of Datai Bay, casuarina-fringed Tanjung Rhu, Tengah Beach and the mysteriously-named Sandy Skulls Beach are great for leisurely sunbathing.
But if you prefer a little more action while working on that tan, give watersports a go.
For this, there’s no better place than vibrant Cenang Beach, where you can try your hand at everything from banana boats to sunset parasailing.
When you’re done, unwind with a refreshing beer or mocktail at beachside joints like Thirstday Bar & Restaurant and Yellow Beach Cafe.
If these aquatics seem a tad sedate, ramp it up with an eco-conscious jet ski adventure around the islands.
Mega Water Sports Jet Ski Tours offers guests two-hour, island-hopping tours on environmentally-friendly low emissions SeeDoo jet skis.
Stops include the wildlife sanctuaries of Singa Besar and Beras Basah, where you can swim among fish in crystal clear waters.
Also recommended is a half-day trip to Pulau Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden Island), the site of a serene freshwater lake that’s great for kayaking or a swim. Local legend goes that a dip in the lake can make a childless woman fertile.
Enjoy bucolic countryside living
Caramel sands and shimmering waters may be Langkawi’s biggest draw, but farther inland, the paddy fields framed by thickly forested mountains are just as picturesque.
A great way to experience this rural beauty is on a cycling tour, which will take you into the heart of the island.
Dev’s Adventure Tours specialises in nature excursions and offers a four-hour Nature Cycling ride through coconut plantations, villages and paddy fields in Kuala Teriang in the island’s west.
On the guided tour, which covers mostly flat terrain, guests have the opportunity to interact with villagers and learn about the fascinating local culture.
Water buffaloes tilling paddy fields are also a common sight across the island, so if you want to sample some creamy cheese made from buffalo milk, you can too.
In Kampung Padang Gaong, Langkawi’s sole cheesemaker 99 Islands has been producing varieties like mozzarella, ricotta, burrata and stracciatella for several years. The small operation is located on a farm with over 70 water buffaloes, and visitors are welcome.
While on the island, you may also want to experience living in a traditional kampung house.
Top picks include the rustic accommodation options at Kunang-Kunang Heritage Villas and Bon Ton Resort Langkawi, a collection of antique Malay houses in idyllic surroundings.
Walk amid the clouds
For eagle-eye views of the Langkawi archipelago, nothing quite beats a stroll along the SkyBridge, a 125-metre long suspension bridge atop Mount Machinchang.
Although it is located on the island’s second tallest peak, you won’t have to huff and puff your way up steep slopes to get to this sky-high bridge.
The SkyCab at the foothills of the mountain will whisk you up to Top Station, located 708 metres above sea level, in a matter of minutes. From here, it’s an easy 10-minute downward trek along a forested trail to the SkyBridge.
Alternatively, you could hop on the SkyGlide, a glass-panelled inclinator located at Top Station, which makes the journey down to the scenic bridge in under two minutes.
Get wet and wild
If you prefer to scale Mount Machinchang the old-fashioned way, that’s an option as well.
Composed of deltaic sandstone formed over 500 million years ago, the Machinchang Range is the oldest rock formation in Southeast Asia.
The 850-metre high summit is about a three-hour trek along a fairly moderate trail, and en route is the cascading waters of Telaga Tujuh, named for its series of seven natural pools.
The top of the falls are accessible via 638 steps, which is well worth the effort for the jaw-dropping views.
According to folklore, fairies bathe in the falls and its waters are believed to have healing properties. But don’t be disappointed if there are no fairies in sight. You’ll likely encounter equally enchanting wildlife like macaques and hornbills on your climb.
According to airasia.com