Swimming & Snorkeling in Langkawi

When you are vacationing in an island destination like Langkawi which is surrounded by the emerald blue water of Andaman sea and cluster of 99 tiny islands most of which have remained unspoiled, you can expect that there would be some mind blowing water areas for swimming and snorkeling around the island. 
You won't be disappointed. The main island of Langkawi itself has many wonderful beaches with white stretch of sands and several of them are great for swimming. If you are interested only in swimming from the beaches, Tanjung Rhu Beach located at the north eastern coastline, and even the two most popular beaches on the western coastline Pantai Cenang Beach and the adjacent Pantai Tengah Beach too have shallow waters and are quite good for swimming. 
However, if you are looking for marine life and corals in the water, then the beachside water areas in the main island of Langkawi are not considered great for snorkeling or swimming in general. This is because the natural sediments that flow into the sea from the rivers in the island make the water visibility quite low. 

Best time to swim & snorkel at Langkawi

Langkawi's weather is tropical and water remains warm enough throughout the year for comfortable swimming and snorkeling. The water temperature varies between 29 to 30°C during the year although it could drop couple of degrees during December and January. For snorkeling the best time is November through March when there is no rain and the water visibility is best. June through September is monsoon time, so expect rains. A strong southerly wind flows during August to September, so you should avoid boat ride to places like Pulau Payar for snorkeling and swimming in such time. 

Best Langkawi Snorkeling Beaches

Although beachside locations on the main island may not be ideal for snorkeling, there do exist beaches in the main island of Langkawi that are quite good for snorkeling and offer excellent view of colorful fish and marine life within a short distance from the beach. One such beach is Datai Bay Beach. Unfortunately it is a private beach and enjoyed by the guests of The Datai Resort and The Andaman Resort. 
If you stand on Tanjung Rhu Beach facing the water, you will see a small island known as Pulau Chabang a short distance away. In fact during the low tide when the water recedes, you can walk down to this island. The water area around Pulau Chabang is excellent for snorkeling. You can see many different kinds of fish here. During high tide, you can walk down to the jetty next to the stalls at the public beach area, and a take a boat to this island. There are plenty of boats available there. 

Langkawi Boat Trips & Cruises for Snorkeling & Swimming

If you are willing to take a boat ride from the main island, then there are several other small offshore islands that offer wonderful opportunities for both beachside and reef snorkeling & swimming in Langkawi. And there the water visibility is excellent and you will get to see many different fish, marine life and corals that are difficult to see otherwise. 

Pulau Payar Marine Park

The most touted and popular place for snorkeling & swimming is Pulau Payar Marine Park. The marine park comprises of Pulau Payar and few other nearby islands, and is located 30kms south of Langkawi's main island. It's usually a day long program and takes about an hour to reach by a speed boat from Kuah. 
There are several beaches at the marine park that are great for beachside snorkeling. You won't see many corals near the shore. As you further out into the water, you will see boulder and brain corals. But the main attraction here is the black tipped baby sharks that will swim alongside you. You will also see many different types of fish here including the butterflyfish, the rare rabbitfish, dameselfish, moorish idols, pink anemonefish and lot more. 
The tours also take you to reef sites where you will see larger species of fish like the barracuda, giant groupers, snappers, moray eels and lot more, and of course beautiful corals like boulder corals, brain corals, stony & knob corals etc. You will also swim alongside the harmless black tipped sharks. Check out Pulau Payara Marine Park to know about the experience in details, the operators and their complete offerings. 

Pulau Beras Basah

Another small island to the south of main Langkawi, which too is great for snorkeling. However this is much closer and takes only about 15-20 minutes by boat from Awana Porto Malai dock at Pantai Tengah. You can snorkel along the shore or go further out into the sea. The visibility is quite clear and you get to see many different kinds of fish in the waters surrounding the island. Sometimes there is a problem of trash here like plastic bags and cans thrown into the water by tourists. However the main swimming area in general remains clean.  
Pulau Beras Basah is a point covered in the popular Island Hopping Boat Tour operated by virtually every travel stall in Pantai Cenang and Tengah and by almost all hotels. Depending on the season, the rate can be between RM35 to RM55 person. The usual stoppage time is about 1 hour. If you want to spend more time snorkeling here, you can go down to the Awana Porto Malai Terminal and take a boat only for Pulau Beras Basah. You should carry your own snorkel gears. There are toilet facilities available at Pulau Beras Basahas as well as stalls selling soft drinks & water. But there is no food. Note that there are lots of monkeys that roam about this place and eating food here is not advisable. 

Pulau Dangli Beach

This is a small island with a beautiful clean beach located about 2 miles off Tanjung Rhu Beach at the northern shore of Langkawi. You can take a short boat ride from Tanjung Rhu jetty to reach the island and snorkel in the water area surrounding the island. You can see plenty of colorful fishes here. You will find several boat operators at the jetty offering you a snorkeling trip to Dangli island. 
Usually the trip lasts for about 2 hours including the boat ride. The charges are usually for a full boat (about RM 400 - 450 per boat that can accommodate up to 8 persons). Sometimes Pulau Dangli is also covered as part of the Kilim Geopark & Mangroves Boat Tour. Note that you should ideally time your snorkeling at the Dangli Island during neap tide when the sea is calm and water visibility is high. Ask the boat operator and they will let you know when is the right time to go for a snorkel venture at Dangli island. 

Pulau Timun

This is a tiny island located at the eastern water area. It can be accessed by a short boat ride from the Kuah Jetty. Water is crystal clear and snorkeling experience from the shore is excellent. However sometimes ocean swelling makes it difficult to snorkel. The island has a shape of the letter 'T'. The island is uninhabited, but you will find wild pigs and lots of bats here. You will also find some small secluded coves at the southern end of the island. There are no facilities here. You should carry your own snorkel gears. 

Pulau Bumbon Besar

This is another small island located at the south eastern water area and only 3 miles away from Kuah. The island has a shape of the letter 'M'. It is uninhabited but has a tiny beach excellent for swimming and snorkeling. Its twin island Pulau Bombon Kechil is located close to it. You can take a boat ride from Kuah jetty to Pulau Bombon Besar for snorkeling. There are no facilities here though. You should carry your own gears. 

Swimming in natural pools

If you are still hunting for a place to swim and get a different sort of experience while enjoying the nature all around, then there is one more option - Seven Wells waterfall (Telaga Tujuh). In order to get the best of experience, you will need to climb some 638 steps to the top of the fall. This waterfall cascades down the mountain Mat Cincang (the second highest mountain in Langkawi) and forms seven natural pools at different heights. The one at the top is the most coveted one where you can swim with wonderful views including that of the rainforest. There are huge flat smooth rock formations here where you can sit and slide down to the pool. 
However, if you are not willing to take the trek to the top of the waterfall, then you can also go to the middle or lower fall areas which are easier to access and then swim at the lower pools. This too is a great experience. 
There area souvenir and food stalls at the base of the fall. Seven Wells waterfall is located at Pantai Kok area at the end of the road Jalan Telaga Tujuh. You can take a taxi or a rental car/bike to reach the base. 

Top Snorkel Operators in Langkawi

There are many operators in the island who offer boat tours for offshore snorkeling and swimming. They take you to various islands and offer half day or full day programs. Most provide snorkeling gears and also lunch (for full day programs). Visit Top Snorkel & Dive Operators to know about the best of the lot. 

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Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Saikat Kumar Paul (December 2019) 
If we want to go for snorkeling around Pulai Timun or Pulau Dangli beach..is there any options to have snorkeling gears on rent from main island? 
Raj (langkawi-insight.com) December 2019 
Some shops would be selling snorkeling masks and fins in the main island of Langkawi, but you won't get them on rent. It's better to carry your own snorkel gears if you want to snorkel on your own. 
Brett (November 2017) 
Hi, I am hoping for some advice please.  I would like to do some snorkelling and am considering Langkawi as a destination however it will be mid to late April and I am concerned that as this is mid season it might not be a good time for visibility for snorkelling - or the rain might cause some trips to be cancelled. What would your advice be please? Many thanks in advance. 
Raj (langkawi-insight.com) December 2017 
Hi, while April is not the best time for snorkeling in Langkawi, it's quite doable though. However avoid snorkeling out of the beaches in the main island. Visibility is not great along the shores of the main island. You can either take a snorkeling tour to Pulau Payar Marine Park or take a boat to one of the nearby islands as mentioned in my snorkeling section. 
Rebecca Chan (February 2017) 
My husband and I will visit Langkawi from Apr 13 to Apr 17, 2017. Our focus in this trip is snorkeling. Apart from the tour to Pulau Payar Marine Park which is a famous snorkeling tour, I would like to pick another two islands good for snorkeling e.g. Palau Beras Basah and Pulau Dangli Beach. I do not need other sight-seeing activities. Is there any boat operator in the jetty that we can take a boat to Palau Beras Basah / Pulau Dangli Beach from the jetty in the morning and then back to the jetty in the evening? Any tour operators that can offer hotel transfer as well? I do not want to join the Island hopping tour because the snorkeling time in each island is not enough for us. 
Raj (langkawi-insight.com) February 2017 
Hi, Pulau Beras Basah and Pulau Dangli are not in the same direction and quite far from each other. For Pulau Besas Basah go down to Teluk Baru Jetty (in Pantai Tengah) located in the southern part of Langkawi and take a motorized boat. It will take about 15-20 minutes by boat. For Pulau Dangli, you need to visit the Tanjung Rhu jetty next to Tanjung Rhu beach located at the northern part of Langkawi and take a boat. It will take about 10 minutes. Between the two Jettys, you need a taxi transfer (about 45 minutes). Most operators will be happy to work out a customized tour for you combining the two. You can do one island on each half of the day. 
Rob (January 2016) 
Can you snorkel from any beaches directly (without having to go on a boat trip) 
Raj (langkawi-insight.com) January 2016 
Visibility is too low, murky water around the main island is not good for snorkeling. Closest is the offshore island (Pulau Chabang, and not the couple of others) off Tanjung Rhu beach. During low tide you can easily walk down or swim to that island. If you snorkel around that area, you can see lots of fish.