After weeks of making Dalgona coffees, hovering over the kids’ online learning and laughing at #stayathome challenges, I am craving for a good, old fashioned beach holiday. As soon as the MCO is lifted and it’s safe to take the family on a holiday, we’re planning a beach break. And we’re keeping it local. How about Lang Tengah? It looks amazing… Let’s hope we can go out and explore again, as soon as it’s safe to do so!
Pulau Lang Tengah or Lang Tengah island is a gorgeous hidden paradise on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia with pristine white sandy beaches and crystal clear warm water. This small island is located between Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian, hence the name Lang Tengah (it means ‘the eagle in the middle’). The secluded beaches with rich marine life are the reason some people call it the Maldives of Malaysia.
A highlight of Lang Tengah, besides its beautiful beaches, is the fact that there are no roads, only a few jungle paths to reach the beaches and the rocky side of the island. That means no noise and clean air – both rare nowadays, especially for families living in the city. The only way to get around the island is walking, by boat or canoe.
The island has three stunning white sand beaches and plenty of rich and colourful marine life to explore. Two of those, the bigger ones, are located in front of the resorts. The third one, Turtle Bay, is smaller and is a more recluse beach dedicated to marine turtle conservation.
The kids were excited to snorkel amongst baby sharks, parrot fish, blue-ringed angelfish, big schools of colorful fish and clown fish living in sea anemones just close to the shore. Not to mention the bright corals in many sizes and colours and a bigger shark of about a meter long.
What we enjoyed most about the island, is the fact that we could go snorkeling at any time of the day without the need to book a snorkeling trip. And every time we spotted something different!
The visibility is often great for snorkeling at all beaches with its crystal clear waters. There are almost no currents. Non-divers will enjoy the island without the need to go very far from the beach to see beautiful corals and colourful fish. In the afternoon, while enjoying the sunset from the beach, we could also see flocks of seagulls on the rocks near the beach at Sari Pacifica.
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch
The Turtle Bay (the main nesting beach) is the home of a conservation organisation. They do an amazing job not only protecting the sea turtles, but also researching the reefs and marine life around the island. To reach the beach, follow an enjoyable and easy path in the jungle among coconut and banana trees and occasional big monitor lizards. After a short hike (with ropes to help the way up) you will arrive at the beautiful Turtle Bay beach.
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch‘s team is formed from volunteers from different countries and relies mostly on donations, school visits and selling merchandise to support the project.
By contacting the project in advance we booked a visit with the kids. After a small tour, they explained us about the project, the turtle’s species and the struggle to preserve them, by saving the eggs not only from the natural predators, but also from poachers who sell the eggs for consumption on local markets.
Each evening during the nesting season the volunteers patrol two beaches, the Turtle Bay beach and Lang Sari to check if any mother turtle will arrive to nest. In that case they can safely relocate the eggs to monitor them at Turtle Bay. During our visit, we got to see many protected nests on the sand waiting for the hatchlings and the preservation done by ensuring they are not touched. Last time we visited the project we were lucky to see one of the hatchlings, and the kids were thrilled to look at the tiny turtles heading off into the ocean. This time, although we didn’t see any tiny turtles, we could witness one of the mother turtles coming to Lang Sari beach at night to lay her eggs. Definitely a plus to our trip.
We visited Lang Tengah for the first time three years ago and since then all its beauty remains untouched. Every time we come back, we fall in love again.
Lang Tengah resorts
Tengah island has only three resorts (all clean and good overall, but none of them five stars). We stayed at Sari Pacifica, because it’s located on the island’s most beautiful beach and our favourite spot for the kids to play or snorkel, from while we relax on the lounge chairs under the dried palm leaves canopy.
The rooms are clean, but in need of renovation. The family rooms by the pool and at the beach front are the best. The rooms with two king size beds fit comfortably a family of four or even five (if the kids are younger). The restaurant offers breakfast and dinner buffet, but you can also order some snacks from the beach bar during the day. At the time of our visit, the buffet was average: the choice for both for breakfast and dinner was limited, but the food was good.
Summer Bay Lang Tengah Island Resort is located at the right end of the same beach as Sari Pacifica. It’s the newest and the most crowded one, and seems to be popular with large tourist groups. The hotel has a jetty that’s bigger and more comfortable than the other ones. The rooms are well maintained, but the family rooms are smaller than at Sari Pacifica. We were told that breakfast now offers a wider selection of buns and pastries on top of their regular buffet spread.
D’Coconut Lagoon Resort is closer to Turtle Bay and the most quiet one, offering more of a feeling of staying on a private beach. We have never stayed there, but as far as we could see some rooms are quite spacious and they have a few family rooms available. At the beach, the kids found a shallow reef right in front of the resort’s jetty and were thrilled to see a family of cute little Nemos in their real habitat.
All the resorts have a dive center offering daily snorkeling and diving trips, as well as kayak and canoe rentals.
The downside compared to the neighbouring islands Redang and Perhentian, is that the only meal options are at the resorts. There are no other restaurants at the island, besides a small local kiosk on the way to the turtle bay selling fresh coconut and a few seafood dishes. On the other hand, Lang Tengah has fewer tourists, which guarantees a peaceful and quiet holiday
How to get to Lang Tengah island
The best time to visit the island is between March and October, as by the end of October all the resorts close for the monsoon season. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the island with a speed boat from Merang Jetty, Terengganu.
We chose to travel by car from Kuala Lumpur, but you can also take a domestic flight to Kuala Terengganu. The resorts usually provide a land transport pick-up service from the airport to Merang Jetty for those not driving. The drive from KL to Merang Jetty takes about four and a half hours, and the roads are good with several places to stop on the way.
Once we reached Merang Jetty we left the car in a covered parking area for a fee of RM10 per night. The boats for Lang Tengah are usually scheduled to depart at 10am, 2pm and 3pm every day, but in case of larger groups, there’s also the possibility to pay for a private boat departing at any time, weather permitting.