MANY people are aware of the splendour of Langkawi and its azure waters but few know of the beguiling secrets of the white sandy beach at Pantai Merdeka on mainland Kedah.
The 1km stretch of sandy beach is great for picnicking and sunbathing and the water for swimming and water-sports.
This charming and scenic beach is shaded by tall swaying casuarinas and coconut trees and is an ideal spot for visitors to stop by for a picnic, to relax and gaze at the sea and unwind from the day’s stresses.
About 25km from Sungai Petani, it is a popular seaside holiday destination for locals and domestic tourists from the northern states.
Facilities include chalets, a rest house, camping site, swimming pool, restaurant, hawker site, a beach bazaar and public restrooms.
For those with a taste for some island marooning and island hopping, there is a cluster of three islands off Yan district near Kota Kuala Muda. They are Pulau Bunting, Pulau Song Song and Pulau Bidan.
The waters of these uninhabited offshore islands are ideal for snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing. On the islands, visitors can take a dip in the sea to check out the lovely corals. Or they can also go scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing. They can also explore the jungle tracks on the untapped islands.
Arrangements can be made for trips to these islands.
The local boatmen with their sampan docked at the beach area are readily available to ferry them to the islands.
For water sports enthusiasts, water skiing, kayaking and sailing are also popular along the stretch of coastal water.
The beach at Pantai Merdeka is surrounded by verdant green hills from which flows cool mountain air, making it ideal for picnicking and relaxation.
For those who like to savour the delights of fresh seafood, take a boat-ride across Pantai Merdeka to the fishing village of Tanjung Dawai.
There, the enterprising villagers are famed for their ikan bakar and air assam. Also available at reasonable prices are fresh crabs, prawns, stingray, ikan kembong, pomfrets and cuttlefish.
Tanjung Dawai is also famed for homemade belacan (prawn paste), processed anchovies of numerous sizes and quality, and dried cuttlefish and prawns.
For an insight into the fishing village lifestyle, visitors can take a 10-minute boat-ride to Telok Nipah and Kampung Pulau Sayak.