Eco-travel attractions in Langkawi, Malaysia! Mangrove forest nature boat tour, sailing with Casa del Mar hotel.
Straddling a rainbow unicorn — that’s how we ride-or-die!
I think it’s fair to say… Yukiro and I had a magical time at our Malaysia beach resort, Casa del Mar Langkawi.
If you didn’t catch our first post, come take a look: we did a fun review of Casa del Mar.
In Part 2, we’ll venture beyond the hotel and see Langkawi’s famous natural attractions. We joined an eco-tour that let us witness monkeys, eagles, mangroves and caves filled with bats! The hotel staff even took us to their private beach by boat… and I couldn’t resist drawing a pentagram into the sand.
We spent several glorious days relaxing at Casa del Mar, a luxurious yet down-to-earth resort on Pantai Cenang beach. Our villa was footsteps from the beach, so we spent a great deal of time playing in the warm waves of the Andaman Sea.
Yukiro and I met an Asian couple with an inflatable unicorn floaty. They were kind enough to let us sit on the mystical creature — complete with a golden horn, rainbow-colored mane and tail!
Isn’t this the cutest swimming pool lounger? This exact unicorn float is for sale here and below (click thumbnails for details).
Yukiro and I could have hung out all day at Casa del Mar, sipping dragonfruit cocktails and lounging on the beach. However, we always like to mix it up, and get out to see the local life.
Langkawi, Malaysia is known for its incredible nature… so the hotel generously set us up on an ecological day trip with Dev’s Adventure Tours.
Dev’s Adventure Tours is a local company, with fluent guides who are clearly passionate about preserving and appreciating their natural surroundings. They offer a variety of tour packages that let you get close to the flora and fauna of Langkawi, without harming the environment. These include kayaking, cycling, jungle treks… but as you might guess, we “non-sporty types” went for a half-day boat ride through the mangroves and islands.
The tour company picked us up in a group shuttle in the morning. We soon arrived at Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, where we found ourselves surrounded by spectacular limestone caves and lush foliage.
When Yukiro and I heard that we’d be seeing Langkawi bats in a cave, we literally cheered! Our guide Kieran brought us into a deep cave, and briefly shone up a flashlight so we could see this Gothic sight: a colony of black bats, hanging upside-down from the ceiling.
The “Kelawar Cave” or Bats’ Cave is about 60 meters long, and located in the heart of Kilim mangrove swamps. Hundreds, if not thousands of these vampiric creatures live inside.
The sign outside describes how important they are to the ecosystem, particularly by aiding pollination and keeping insect populations at bay.
The bats truly look like like Count Dracula, wrapped in capes…. and waiting to suck your blood!
But seriously though: these Malaysian bats feed mainly on fruits. Our guide explained that there are three different species that “hang out” here, and ways we could identify them (body size, shape of nose). The biggest danger is accidentally touching their guano or excrement, but the cavern is well maintained by the geo-park staff.
We also admired the cave’s dramatic stalactites (that “hang tight” from the ceiling) and stalagmites, which come together to form a single curtain. These eerie formations look like alien teeth, or something from the mind of H. R. Giger.
Outside, our guide Kieran pointed out a pit viper snake with an arrow-shaped head. We stepped carefully towards it: sudden, close movements might make the serpent pounce and inflict a venomous bite.
We took a brief walk through the forested paths. Many species live in Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, and can be heard or spotted: otters, birds, tree crabs, lizards.
Looks like this monkey is mooning us! These long tailed or crab-eating macaques are a common sight in Langkawi, Malaysia.
These fuzzy creatures have become accustomed to humans, which makes them rather naughty. They have bite, and come up to steal food and water bottles from visitors — so be prepared.
It’s too bad that many tourists are careless or unaware, and try to feed the monkeys. It’s best to leave the macaques to their natural behaviors and watch them from afar. (Not a bad place to get a back-scratch.)
Our group got onto the small boat, and we sailed past Langkawi’s limestone cliffs, tropical foliage and warm beaches. I loved watching the scenery pass by from the bow.
We got up-and-close with the mangrove forests: these intricate networks of roots, trees and water that form a dynamic ecosystem. The habitat houses all types of creatures, and protects coastlines from strong waves and winds.
Kieran reminded us of the devastating 2004 tsunami in Malaysia; thanks to the natural barriers of the mangroves, Langkawi was saved from much of the destruction.
He and the captain had a keen eye for spotting camouflaged creatures. He pointed out a blue kingfisher (tiny colorful bird found in Southeast Asia), and this spotted snake (can you see it, disguised as a branch in the middle of the photo)? On some tours, guests even see sharks and dolphins.
The boat sped up, and we went further out into the Andaman Sea. We watched giant eagles swoop and dive into the waters — such majesty! In Langkawi, there are two species: white-bellied sea eagles and Brahminy kites.
Dev’s Adventure Tours puts eco-preservation first, and therefore doesn’t feed the eagles. It’s important that these powerful birds are not dependent on humans, for the sake of the next generations.
Out to sea. We stopped by a secluded island with a white sand beach. Yukiro did a hand-stand in the waters!
Our crew ended the day with lunch, which was included in the boat trip package. Cheers to Dev’s Adventure Tours for the knowledgeable, eco-focused tour of Langkawi’s mangroves and wildlife.
As we waited for our pick-up, I couldn’t resist snapping this photo. How interesting to see the way many Muslim women dress on vacation: full-coverage burkas and sunglasses! I don’t know how they powered through the sweltering heat.
Another day, another adventure. Our hotel Casa del Mar Langkawi offers their own experience packages for guests as well. These activity options include a fishing trip and castaway beach picnic. We went for “Island Hopping,” as we were keen to see more of Langkawi’s 99 isles.
Casa del Mar drove us to a local pier, and our captain took us sailing on a private boat.
Close-up on my blue-eyed skirt: it’s from Print All Over Me and designed by Coucou Suzette. To avoid bug bites, I always cover my limbs in these climates: I’m wearing Joy Division Unknown Pleasures leggings.
Yukiro and I sailed past the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden (Pulau Dayang), which has a mountain range that resembles a pregnant belly. Our captain told us about the mysterious legend, and how many women come here to increase their chances of fertility.
We said hello to the eagles, and set anchor at Casa del Mar’s private beach. I loved the Robinson Crusoe feeling of being alone on an island (I made my mark, by drawing this pentacle into the sand!) Our captain brought out a cooler filled with juices, fruits and sandwiches; we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach, followed by a swim and sun-bathing.
We also made a stop at Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, where visitors can rent swan-shaped boats to take out into the lake. However, I wasn’t fond of the touristy feeling of that place; my happy place is on a private Malaysian beach like this one!
For those who love to get deep into nature, Langkawi is a wonderful destination. I encourage you to tread lightly and take an educational tour, as it’s important to preserve the local wildlife while we can.
Did you have fun reading about our Casa del Mar Langkawi adventures? Have you ever seen bats or monkeys up-close, like we did?
(PS – you can get this fun unicorn floaty here and below, you know you want one!)