Langkawi: Getting Back to Nature

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on January 9, 2015


Languid and laid-back, the island destination of Langkawi offers considerably more than the usual sand and sea associated with such holiday retreats. Travel photojournalist David Bowden explores the wilder side of Langkawi and finds it an ideal place to get back to nature.

While Langkawi is well known for its sand, sun, and sea, it is the plants and animals that some consider to distinguish it from other island groups in the region. Many come to take a walk on the wild side while others are happy to enjoy a talk on the mild tides. With only three of the 99 islands in the archipelago having any form of development, the plant communities on all are becoming increasingly important sanctuaries in an ever-developing world.

Perhaps Langkawi’s most popular excursion is a visit to the mangrove forests to learn from informed nature guides about how these plants protect coastlines from erosion as well as being a habitat for many species of flora and fauna. Mangrove forests were once considered little more than wastelands best suited to filling in and leveling off, but now many have come to realise that they serve a number of critical functions. Mangroves are especially economically important as breeding grounds for fish and crustacean species. It was Langkawi’s unique natural qualities that ensured parts of Langkawi were designated as a UNESCO World Geopark in 2007. Langkawi’s sedimentary rocks are considered some of the oldest in Southeast Asia, dating back over 550 million years. The Geopark not only protects Langkawi’s geology, but also the flora and fauna that thrive in the island’s 100 Geopark sites scattered around the archipelago.