An island holiday that's perfect for moms, dads and babes-in-tow!
It was supposed to be a three-day vacation but we packed like we were going away for three weeks.
Well, I guess that’s what happens when you go on your first-ever holiday with a baby in tow! Our luggage literally burst at the seams with baby stroller, baby food, favourite toys, baby bottles, a “lifetime supply of diapers” as hubby joked, and such. I guess, if we had more space – and a bigger budget – I would have packed my nanny in as well, but hubby said it was strictly a family affair!
Little Moses was not yet a year old and it was our first vacation together, so naturally, I had some trepidation – and some specific demands – about the trip:
1. Location, location, location
First, we had to decide where to go. I had some pretty good ideas of where we were not going – any place that was off-the-beaten track and anywhere that required some form of exertion to get to, i.e. mountain climbing, jungle trekking, river rafting, etc.
My dream vacation had a personal butler in it, but, oh, well…At the very least, our destination had to be both baby- and parent-friendly, easily accessible with modern conveniences, and fun, too!
I think we mutually agreed on Langkawi island, up in the northern part of Malaysia, because it had a little bit of everything for the three of us. It had some beautiful beaches (our favourite was Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, or roughly translated, the Skeleton Sand Beach, in the north); a wide choice of both simple and fancy restaurants serving local and international cuisine; lots of spas; and some kid-friendly attractions like the Underwater World and the Langkawi Bird Paradise Wildlife Park.
2. Book me a palace
Hubby and I have taken many holidays together, putting up at accommodations of various levels of comfort, shabby huts included. This time, I insisted on something nice. We ended up – quite happily, I must say – in a little villa on Pantai Tengah’s Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa. Not exactly a palace, the room was, however, big enough for Little Moses to take his first baby steps! The resort was expansive and shady, perfect for long walks by the casuarina-lined beach on days when we felt like staying in. They also had a resident nature and bird-watching programme for guests. With plenty to see and do within the resort, it was perfect in case we didn’t feel like venturing out at all.
Langkawi island, being a favourite tourist destination, offers lots of choices in accommodation. Do a little homework, and you’ll definitely find something to suit your budget and needs – private beach, ocean-view, baby-friendly, five-star, three-star, no-star, in the city, by the beach, up a tree (Malibest Resort at Pantai Cenang offers treetop, beachside accommodations), on a mountain (D’Coconut Hill Resort on Mount Raya, 3,000 feet above sea level). For convenience, arrange for all-inclusive holiday packages where everything – accommodation, food, transport, activities – are taken care of right at the beginning.
We made our choice based on the location and the fact that the resort was baby-friendly. Pantai Tengah, in the south-west, was near enough to the other “happening” beach area known as Pantai Cenang but far enough away that we were not disturbed by the noise and the crowd. The resort we stayed in had its own private beach and offered baby-sitting services which was helpful. We easily made arrangements for a cot to be placed in our room.
The fact that the resort heavily implemented many green practises made us feel quite light about the carbon/ecological footprint we were leaving behind – especially since we had to do this next, environmentally unfriendly, thing…
3. Rent me some wheels
As a tourist staying at Pantai Tengah or the neighbouring Pantai Cenang, there’s hardly any need for a car since everything is within walking distance – money changers, chalets and resorts, supermarkets, souvenir shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes, duty free shops, the beach, etc. But part of the deal I made with Hubby was that we would rent a car because I certainly didn’t see myself pushing the baby stroller and negotiating the beach crowd under the hot island sun!
Car rentals in Langkawi can be made at the island’s entry points (jetty or airport) as well as at the hotels. Prices vary depending on the season. Those traveling with a baby, like us, could rent a baby car seat for a minimal daily fee.
With a car, we were able to explore other areas of Langkawi island such as Pantai Kok where the Telaga Harbour Park marina is located (great views at sunset as you wind down at one of the many restaurants and cafes, quayside); the previously-mentioned Pantai Pasir Tengkorak with its small but shady (and less-touristy) beach; and Friendly Farms, a little deli deep in the Nyior Chabang village, that sold mozzarella and ricotta cheese made from local buffalo milk.
Having taken my prerequisites under consideration, we managed to enjoy our little vacation in Langkawi. Overall, Langkawi was stroller-friendly in most of the touristy places. In fact, by 5 pm each day, our chosen resort seemed like a day-care centre with all the kids running around by the pool, which proves that it is a children-friendly place. Although we kept our daily programme free and easy, that’s not to say that Langkawi has few places worthy of a visit. In fact, each time Hubby and I are there, we are constantly surprised and delighted by some newly-discovered restaurant, shop or place…which warrants a return visit to this beautiful island, I say!
Langkawi is an island located off the coast of northwest Peninsula Malaysia, in the state of Kedah. Langkawi is actually a collection of some 99 islands with Langkawi island being the largest of them in the archipelago. It has lovely beaches, jungles, mountains, waterfalls, and mangrove forests. In 2007, Langkawi was accorded the Geopark status by UNESCO. Although Langkawi remains one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations, the island still retains an idyllic village/country-side atmosphere with its wooden village houses and fields of rice paddies, so appealing to those looking for a piece of rustic Malaysiana.
Visitors can fly in to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur International Airport via Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia, or from Subang Airport via Firefly. By land, visitors need to drive or take a bus to Kuala Kedah (six hours journey) or Kuala Perlis (seven hours), the two jumping-off points to the island by ferry. The ferry ride to Langkawi takes 1 hour 15 minutes from Kuala Kedah, and 45 minutes from Kuala Perlis.