The once sleepy island group of Langkawi, 65 mi/105 km north of Penang, has been purposefully developed for tourism, which is both a blessing and a curse. Where once there were only modest hotels, the principal island now has a range of accommodations that includes exclusive resorts full of exotic ambience, luxurious spas and facilities to rival those of neighboring Bali.

The lifestyle in Langkawi is more relaxed and more conservative, with less of the gaudy and raunchy nightlife found in many other regional island destinations. There are bars and restaurants, but they are more subdued making it a great destination for families and couples seeking relaxing fun in the sun.

The Langkawi archipelago is made up of 99 tropical islands, the largest of which has an interior with rice-paddy fields and rolling, tree-covered hills. Beaches range from white to amber to black, but sometimes the waters outside the smaller coves appear murky because of the island's proximity to the Straits of Malacca, a major international shipping route. Many resorts in Langkawi front private beaches, but there is also Pantai Cenang Beach, the liveliest and most popular beach in Langkawi. An island cruise is an excellent way to experience the beautiful scenery. Boats depart daily from Pantai Cenang Beach Island with the four-hour round-trip taking in Dayang Bunting and Beras Basah Island. At the Langkawi Yacht Club, you can also charter a private yacht, complete with a Champagne picnic lunch, or a take a romantic sunset cruise.

Palau Payar Marine Park is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving in the warm water, with abundant marine life and colorful coral. Located 18 mi/30 km southeast of Langkawi Island, it can be reached in about an hour by speedboat or catamaran from Kuah Jetty.

If you tire of sun, sand and seaports, there's golf on the island (two 18-hole courses and a nine-hole), or you can hop a ferry to George Town on nearby Penang for a day trip. The relaxed beach town also offers a variety of bars and restaurants for a relaxed night out.

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