MalaysiaLangkawi $$$$$ All Year Outdoor
Geopark

Kubang Badak Mangrove Reserve

Josh & Jacinta Bender
By 10 days ago

Witness the raw natural beauty that thrust Langkawi onto the world tourism stage. Starting with serene mangrove habitats then opening into the calm Andaman Sea, the Kubang Badak BioGeo Trail is home to thousands of wildlife species, from fiddler crabs, otters, butterflies, and kingfishers to white-bellied sea eagles, shrimp, and tropical fish.

This region is arguably the best place to see mangrove forests and the diverse creatures that call them home, with a river so smooth it reflects like a mirror. Habitats here differ from the more popular Kilim Geoforest Park due to the granite, not limestone, rock foundation.

Kubang Badak Mangrove Reserve is best explored by boat, with 12 stops available to delve into the region's 500-million-year old geology and more recent history linked to fishing villages and Siamese settlers.

From the banks of the Kubang Badak River, balance on rickety jetties at the foot of Bukit Menorah to see remnants of 18th century Thai villages and charcoal factories. Walk through the jungle to reach the 6,000-year-old Pinang Cave where over 1,000 smelly bats take refuge from the sun. Then, watch magnificent and white-bellied sea eagles and Brahminy kites swiftly dive down to snatch fresh fish from the river.

As the river mouth meets the Andaman Sea, the landscape drastically shifts from flat plains of mangrove trees to steep islands. Among them are fishing island Pulau Jemuruk, part of the oldest rock formation in Langkawi where rare gaseous bubbles originating deep below the seafloor can be seen at the surface, and Pulau Dangli, the only place in Langkawi to snorkel with tropical fish.

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Price

RM250-RM550 (1-4 hours, private boat tour) (USD$60.19 - $132.42)

Time Spent

1-4hours

Fitness level: Some effort

Hours

9am-5pm7 days

Look Around

Signage and ticket desk at jetty entranceSignage and ticket desk at jetty entrance
Jetty to boatsJetty to boats
Boat on Kubang Badak RiverBoat on Kubang Badak River
Kubang Badak Jetty
Kubang Badak River
Approaching mangrove forestsApproaching mangrove forests
Mangrove trees on Kubang Badak RiverMangrove trees on Kubang Badak River
Boat traveling along the riverBoat traveling along the river
Mangrove seed up closeMangrove seed up close
Mangrove seedlingMangrove seedling
Mangrove habitat on the river
Old fishing hutOld fishing hut
Charcoal factoryCharcoal factory
Ruins of Siamese village and charcoal factories
Eagles coming in to feedEagles coming in to feed
White-bellied sea eagleWhite-bellied sea eagle
Brahminy kiteBrahminy kite
Eagle watching
Climbing towards the caveClimbing towards the cave
Elephant-shaped flowstone outside cave entranceElephant-shaped flowstone outside cave entrance
Entrance to Pinang CaveEntrance to Pinang Cave
Inner chamberInner chamber
Bats hanging from cave ceilingBats hanging from cave ceiling
Pinang Cave
Pulau Jemuruk BeachPulau Jemuruk Beach
Pristine white beach sandsPristine white beach sands
Pulau Jemuruk
Snorkeling area off Puau DangliSnorkeling area off Puau Dangli
Fish from above the waterFish from above the water
Fish from below the waterFish from below the water
Snorkeling at Pulau Dangli

Who Will Like Kubang Badak Mangrove Reserve

Nature Lover

Escape to the calm and quiet Kubang Badak River, less known by tourists than other areas of Langkawi. Hear the melodic call of the kingfisher as you float along in a boat or kayak. Book a tour with a nature guide to delve deeper into the mangrove forest's unique and diverse habitats.

Photography Whiz

Capture some award-worthy landscapes of the captivating Kubang Badak River, various wildlife species, and untouched sandy islands.

Culture Buff

Learn about Thai immigrants who settled in this area during the 18th century. See remnants of their villages and the charcoal factories they used to work in. Visit Pulau Jemeruk for a taste of the local fishing culture that still thrives in the Kubang Badak region.

Bucketlist Bandit

Snap a photo of Langkawi's iconic sea eagle as it soars across the sky then dives down to catch a piece of fresh fish. Bring your swimwear and jump into the clear turquoise sea and snorkel with friendly tropical fish.

Fun Expert

Book a boat tour along the river and sea to witness majestic sea eagles swoop down for food, then throw breadcrumbs to fish near Pulau Dangli.

Insider Tips For Kubang Badak Mangrove Reserve

  • The region is most commonly explored via boat, but kayak tours are also available.
  • Boat tours can be booked onsite, through hotel concierge, WhatsApp, either on +60 134455644 or +60 12-573 6453, or Facebook. It's recommended to book at least 2-3 days in advance if possible.
  • Tour stops vary depending on the duration of tour booked, ranging from 1-4 hours.
  • 3-hour private boat tours cost RM350 (USD$84.27) for up 8 people or RM550 (USD$132.42) for up to 12 people. The price includes snorkeling equipment and drinking water.
  • Some of the old wooden jetties near Bukit Menorah are very wobbly and dotted with holes. Be very careful walking along them, or opt to stay in the boat if your fitness levels aren't up to it.
Jetty through mangrovesJetty through mangroves
Balancing on the refurbished section of the jettyBalancing on the refurbished section of the jetty
Old jetties near Bukit Menorah
  • Inside Pinang Cave is too dark to see without a flashlight so shine the flash from your phone on the ground to light the way. Don't shine the light onto the bats as it will irritate them.
  • Staff usually bring fresh fish to feed eagles but always ask what they have to feed the eagles before it is thrown into the water. Some less reputable operators feed squid stuffed with polystyrene and others feed hormone-enhanced chicken, both can harm the birds of prey.
  • Staff also bring bread to feed fish near Dangli Island. If you don't want to swim or snorkel, you can stay in the boat and feed the fish. If you do choose to snorkel, be mindful that the water is approximately 4 meters deep and be careful not to touch the seafloor as some coral and sea urchins are poisonous.
  • If you enjoy fishing, stay overnight at Jemaruk Island Resort where fishing packages are available. Groper is the most common fish to catch.
Jemuruk Island Resort

Video

Where Is It

Kampung Kelubi, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

Open map...

How To Get There

Car

Free • Large parking lot near jetty entrance.

Driving directions... Map for car...

Motorbike

Free parking for scooters and motorbikes in main parking lot.

Rideshare

Drivers pick up and drop off in main parking lot.

What To Bring

Do:
  • Cash for tour operators and food.
  • Spare pair of shoes as both sneakers and flip flops will be needed - sneakers to trek to Pinang Cave and flip flops for snorkeling and island beaches.
  • Swimsuit and towel.
  • Snorkeling equipment if owned. Otherwise this can be borrowed from staff.
  • Sunscreen hat, and sunglasses.
  • Mosquito repellant to wear in mangroves and jungle habitats.
  • GoPro or similar action camera.
  • Binoculars for a closer look at birdlife.
  • Flashlight to see inside the cave.
  • Snacks as no food and drink options are available after you leave the jetty.
Don't:
  • Food for fish or eagles.
  • Fishing equipment unless arranged beforehand with tour provider.
  • Plastic bags as monkeys may steal them looking for food.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yesflash is ok

Tripod allowed: Not encouraged

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Late Morning

Tips: Use a magenta filter for your GoPro while snorkeling - this will help capture more realistic colors around 1-2 meters below the surface.

Drones

Drones allowed: Yes (subject to national/regional rules)

Tips: A drone flight over Pulau Jemuruk is essential - just ask your captain to stop on the sandy beach at the southeast corner of the island.

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Southeast beachSoutheast beach
Boat stopping on the beachBoat stopping on the beach
Drone shots of Pulau Jemuruk

Food & Drink

A small food vendor selling local meals like fried rice and seafood is located by the jetty but is only open during peak season.

A handful of local restaurants and food vendors are located along main road, Jalan Teluk Yu, a 2-5-minute drive from the jetty.

Backstory

The Kubang Badak Jetty was constructed in 2009 for local fishermen, then upgraded in 2012 to encourage tourism in the region. Many sites in the area are geologically significant, with embedded seashells in Pinang Cave revealing the sea level from thousands of years ago, and Pulau Jemaruk connecting underwater to Langkawi's second-highest mountain, Gunung Machichang.

In the 18th century, Siamese immigrants settled in the area due to its close proximity to Thailand. They established a small community dependent on fishing, charcoal, and rubber production. 13 charcoal factories were once operational with 9 still visible at the foot of Bukit Menorah. These sites were later abandoned.

Locals in the area have a strong connection to nature, with many native plants having medicinal properties. Many locals are still fishermen while others have converted their boats to operate tours.

The diverse river ecosystem at Kubang Badak is lined with 50-to-150-year-old mangrove trees and is home to wildlife ranging from fiddler crabs and mudskippers to otters and kingfishers.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Book boat tours in advance to ensure availability.
  • Use the restroom at the jetty before starting the tour as no others are available.
  • Listen carefully to instructions and stories from local guides.
Don't:
  • Fish without permission from a local guide.
  • Pick plants or take any seeds, rocks, or shells from the area.
  • Feed monkeys as they will become aggressive.
  • Shine lights directly on bats in Pinang Cave.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Diverse flora and fauna within the region.
  • Range of sites from wildlife habitats and caves to uninhabited islands.
  • Less crowded with tourists than Kilim Geoforest Park enabling a peaceful atmosphere.
  • Opportunity to snorkel among tropical fish.
Could Be Better:
  • Difficult to book boat tours online - Whatsapp chat is most reliable.
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