Langkawi is a cluster of islands in Malaysia. And it also refers to the largest island there. You have two choices when it comes to exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty: Mangrove Tour & Island Hopping.
- The Mangrove Tour, which takes you to the mangrove forests that grow around the Langkawi islands. It includes eagle spotting and feeding, a visit to a fish farm, crocodiles, going out to the open sea, and finally a visit to the bat caves.
- The Island Hopping Tour, which allows you to explore the surrounding islands of Langkawi, and spend some time on the pristine sands—a beach-lover’s paradise.
We couldn’t make our minds up between the two, so we asked the children to choose, and the Mangrove Tour won!
The Mangrove Tour: Where to Book?
There are many places where you can book from. It also depends on how big your group is and how much you want to pay.
- Online: You can book the mangrove tour from websites such as viator.com. They offer several packages including hotel pickup. I found them to be rather expensive.
- Travel Agents: Travel agents can also book the tour for you. They are easy to find in the airport or the hotel. They also set up in booths at the popular Cenang beach and in shopping malls.
- Walk-in: You can simply walk-in to the Jetty and take a boat from there. The experience will be the same, and chances are, you will get the cheapest deal. This was the advice we get from the hotel’s receptionist.
How to Find the Mangrove Tour
We went to Kilim Jetty and asked about the price of a private Mangrove tour. A typical tour costs 350 RM and lasts for two hours. There are longer routes but we picked the 2-hour tour because it covered all the essentials and we had other plans that we wanted to fit in the day.
Tip: If you haggle you can get a better price. For the 2-hour tour in a private boat, we ended up paying only 250 RM.
Activities Included in the Mangrove Tour
The kids were very excited about the crocodiles, but there were no crocodiles to be seen. It turned out to be just a cave shaped like a crocodile, hence the name. The entrance to the cave was very low, with just enough room for the boat to enter, but only during low tide, and only if another boat is not coming from the other side. Given our expectations, we were disappointed, and since many boats were queuing to enter the cave, we decided after a few minutes that we had breathed enough engine smoke and decided to move on. We later decided (reluctantly) to visit the crocodile farm to make up for the missed crocodile spotting, even though we would have rather preferred observing them in their natural habitat.
Eagle Spotting and Feeding
Our bad luck continued when it started raining. Rain means the eagles take shelter in their nests or in the trees. We headed their way, nevertheless, and as we expected they wouldn’t come close for feeding. Then we spotted one far and high above a tree. We were very happy to see it but we did not stop at that.
So we lingered at their spot for some time until we had a break and a couple of eagles showed up. They did not come close, but it was a marvel to see them flying above.
I was also able to get the eagles on video.
When we got to the fish farms a guide showed us the various fish in each enclosure—these included tuna fish, grouper, stingrays and lobsters. The kids were allowed to feed the fish, which was something they enjoyed, and you can also feed and touch the stingray if you want!
The fish farm has a restaurant on site for those who want to enjoy a meal there, it looked like a nice place to take a moment’s rest, but we pressed on with our tour.
The bat caves were the highlight of the tour. For a small fee, you get a spotlight (which you definitely need) and access to the caves. We followed the stairs leading into the cave’s entrance, and were wowed by endless numbers of bats. At first we thought they were present only on the inside walls until someone screamed. We looked up and realized there were bats also hanging right above our heads! Of course, it does smell a bit, but none the less it is an amazing experience. You can feel the air from their wings as they fly from one spot to another. Beyond the cave, a wooden pathway leads into the mangrove forest, an eerily beautiful sight.
Even though we were unlucky with the crocodiles and the eagle spotting, the breathtaking scenery and bat cave made up for it! We enjoyed the tour overall; I think it is a great way to experience some of what Langkawi has to offer.