Mangrove tour in Langkawi

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I can’t wait till the MCO is lifted and we can all go out again… ‘Going to the hairdresser’ is at the top of my bucket list. And as soon as it’s safe, I want to visit all the beautiful places again that Malaysia has got to offer! How about gorgeous Langkawi? Check out this spectacular trip.

How to choose a tour?

A mangrove tour is a must when in Langkawi. In fact, it was one of the main reasons for our trip there. However, there are countless mangrove tour operators in Langkawi. With limited reviews, it was difficult to decide on one prior to arriving. I was mainly concerned with safety as we would be out in the open waters with our child.

Floating fish farm

First point of reference for us was our hotel concierge. The mark up seemed steep, so we went on Tripadvisor to narrow down our search – as you do. We made a few calls and finalised a booking with an independent operator who confirmed that life vests were provided (both for adults and kids). He added it was a proper speedboat we’d be going on and lunch was optional (it wasn’t forced on us).

The tour which we opted for lasted four hours and kicked off bright and early from Tanjung Rhu jetty. We made our first stop at Tanjung Rhu floating fish farm, where we were shown different types of fishes and were allowed to feed them (raw fish, mind you). Our boy was slightly too short to feed them hand to mouth, so he threw the food in. It’s clear the staff care about the fishes and treated them like pets. They played with and even kissed a spotted shark!

Feeding eagles

We then journeyed on, past an eagle feeding spot. Apparently the boat drivers take it in turns to be the group that throws chicken skin into the waters. The uncontrolled eagle feeding is one of the issues the authorities and tour operators in Langkawi have been criticised for. There were plenty of eagles gliding around the area, as they know that’s the feeding spot.

Mangrove forest

The mangrove area was up next. Here we learnt quite a bit about the ecosystem. The mangrove roots are strong and protect the coastal areas. Did you know that if you see bubbles popping up from the mud, it’s because the mangroves are breathing from their roots? Fatin, our guide, told us that the mangrove forests protected Langkawi from further damage during the December 2004 tsunami.

There were plenty of monkeys along the mangroves. Apparently they are split into two different factions. One troop inhabits one side of the mangrove and the other on the opposite side. Isn’t that interesting? As we were early and it was low tide, we were able to go through the Crocodile Cave, which was fun!

The caves

We finally hit the Bat Cave, truly a sight to behold. When we arrived, it was packed and Fatin kept us back to let the crowds through first, which was great. Whilst waiting, she pointed out blue and red crabs and mud skippers to us.

She also paid our entrance fees. The cave itself is tiny but Fatin made it worth our while, explaining and pointing things out. She was well equipped having brought her own flashlight. The bats were quite a sight. There were so many of them just hanging there unperturbed with the flashlights shining on them. We also saw a stalactite that was still growing – of course sectioned off to protect it.

There are low hanging rocks throughout the cave, so do watch out, but overall it was an easy walk through the cave. There are a number of monkeys at the exit of the cave. Fatin warned us not to smile and show our teeth to them as this would antagonise them. They do come up close to you but if you don’t have any food out in the open, you’re fine. Just keep foodstuff zipped up in your bag.

Langkawi’s Hollywood

After the Bat Cave, we voyaged on to the Andaman Sea and took a breather at the ‘Hollywood of Langkawi’, as Fatin put it. This is the famous ‘Kilim Geoforest Park’ sign. As we decided we’d have lunch as well, we finally headed for lunch at the same floating fish farm. Lunch was a simple, local affair but very satisfying and a great experience.

I was rather surprised though that at lunch time, the enclosures for the various fishes on the fish farm were filled with trash. The enclosures were completely clear and clean when we stopped there in the morning. I was told the trash was brought in by the tides. I thought that it certainly didn’t help that diners sitting along the perimeter of the restaurant were actually throwing food and rubbish into the sea! It was quite upsetting to see.

Throughout the tour, Fatin pointed out sights and educated us on the history and facts. I really liked that our boat driver didn’t speed as our boy was with us, even though there were plenty of other boats which overtook us throughout the morning and were egging him on.

Apparently one of the greatest threats to the ecosystem here are the motorized boats and jetskis, that cause the waves to erode the mangrove. He didn’t rush us around, but instead took us on a leisurely ride and made sure we were satisfied and had taken it all in before moving on to the next spot. He even allowed our boy to sit in the captain’s seat at the end of the tour for a picture – always a treat!

Tips

  • Start your tour in the morning, so you can see the difference between low and high tide.
  • Ask for kiddie life vests before the start of the tour.
  • Don’t forget sun block and a hat.
  • Try to find a responsible tour operator that is interested in conservation, rather than making a quick buck at the expense of the environment.
  • We had a private tour of four adults and one child and it cost RM 650. You will see prices way cheaper than this but this will often only cover a boat driver, not a guide. We decided to get a guide, as we wanted to learn about the nature and history and were not disappointed.

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