Less than two kilometres from the much more popular Tanjung Rhu Beach, the Black Sand Beach in Langkawi tempts visitors with its strange and unique coal coloured shoreline. Although the prospect of black sand draws in tourists, Black Sand Beach seems to be mostly populated by locals. With no loungers, no bars and no booze along the shore, no tourist stays for very long, making this a tourist-free oasis for Langkawians.
How To Get To Langkawi’s Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach is near the eastern end of Jalan Teluk Yu, a long road that stretches across the island to the base of Gunung Mat Cincang. If you are driving from Tanjung Rhu, go south on Jalan Tanjung Rhu and turn onto Teluk Yu road at the roundabout. There is parking at the Medan Niaga Black Sand Beach, a shopping and food plaza behind the beach with stair access down to the shore.
If you are staying on one of the resorts along Tanjung Rhu beach, it is possible to walk along the coast from Tanjung Rhu to Pantai Pasir Hitam. This will utilise the most direct route, since walking along the road take you out of your way. We stayed at the De Balqis Beach Resorts which is at the northern edge of Tanjung Rhu beach, and it was about a 25 to 30-minute walk.
It was a standard beach walk until around where the Din Cafe is located. Depending on the tide, getting at least your feet wet is guaranteed. It was low tide around 3 pm when we did this walk, and we had to cross some rivulets that were flowing from further inland. We thought it looked slightly dangerous at first, but the water wasn’t deep (just up to our ankles) and it wasn’t flowing fast enough to make us lose our footing. It was rocky under our feet, but the rocks were smooth – I was able to make it across barefoot without any cuts. Once you pass this, it will be back to walking on the sand until you reach Black Sand Beach.
Facilities at Langkawi’s Black Sand Beach
There are absolutely no facilities along the beach. Anything that you may need will be in the Medan Niaga shopping plaza located behind the shore. Find the colourful stairs on the beach leading upwards. This covered plaza had some stalls selling beach accessories and food vendors selling drinks and basic stuff like fried noodles. In the middle were tables and chairs for people to eat at, and the toilets are located up here for beachgoers to use. I don’t know if it was because of the weather or COVID, but many of the stalls were closed. When we went, there was only one vendor open for business.
There are no loungers, no umbrellas and no shower stations at Black Sand Beach. There is an Instagram spot with a big swing set that you saw earlier in this post. There are a lot of boats docked on the north end of the beach. Their colourful paint makes me think that they’re tour boats that offer activities like snorkelling or island hopping. On this day, there wasn’t a soul tending to them, so I can’t say for sure.
Water & Sand at Langkawi’s Black Sand Beach
The water is, of course, the same as at Tanjung Rhu. Clean by Malaysian standards, and no muck or garbage was floating along the surface. However, the view from the beach pales in comparison to Tanjung Rhu Beach. At Black Sand Beach, you’re seeing less of the most picturesque thing, the three islands, and more of the ugliest thing, the cement factory.
The big reason to come here is to see the black sand, right? I’m not sure what glamourous ideas other people have about black sand beaches, but the look of Langkawi’s Black Sand Beach is not impressive. Do not believe certain websites that are obviously using fake pictures trying to pass them off as Langkawi. Images of uniform, inky black sand with lush palm trees in the background are not Langkawi and should be reported on Google.
The Black Sand Beach in Langkawi is mostly regular sand with some black sand patches scattered around. Unless you’re really paying attention, it kind of looks like wet sand. The darkest, largest swath of it was under the trees, where it looked like sand that was dark because it was in the shade. Based on the other blogs that have properly visited this beach, the low levels of black sand we experienced was not an issue of the tides, season or time of day. It just simply doesn’t get much blacker than this. On the plus side, the sand is soft and easy to walk barefoot on.
According to an info board behind the swingset, the black sands at Black Sand Beach are caused by the large amounts of tourmaline and ilmenite from the granite in Gunung Raya. They flow down from the mountain, mixing with the sand to turn it black. The strange thing is that these minerals do not usually make black sand, but they do on Langkawi. This is the scientific explanation for the black sand, even it does come with some mystery. There is also a love story myth involving a beautiful mermaid princess, a fiery battle on the beach and the resulting ash as the reason for the black sand. The full story of this legend will be on a plaque on the colourful stairs.
The beaching space appears to be anywhere past the docked boats. The area around the boats is abhorrent with tons of debris and washed-up garbage. There weren’t that many beachgoers at Black Sand Beach on this day, but most were gathered near the swingset and the colourful stairs to the food court. This area was the cleanest and closest to the amenities. The trees on the hill provide plenty of shade in the absence of any beach umbrellas. There is a narrow runoff river flowing from the forest and creating a shallow trench on the beach. Beyond this boundary line, there is a lot less privacy as the treeline stops, then the shoreline increasingly has more debris like boulders or big fallen branches on it.
Ew. I would not recommend going to Black Sand Beach. This place doesn’t have anything going for it that tourists would like. The big draw, the black sand, is so uneven that it just makes the beach look worse. Walking here and seeing the volume of disgusting trash on the shore just north of where everyone was swimming was eye-opening. There was no place on Tanjung Rhu Beach that was that bad.
I think the only appeal of this place is for the locals to get away from pesky tourists. Every beach in Langkawi has bars that attract drunk, scantily clad westerners. I don’t think the vendor in Black Sand Beach’s plaza even sold any beer (nor spoke much English), and the main group on the beach today was a bunch of young Malay boys with their bikes. Everyone, including the men, was fully clothed while walking around or even swimming. Honestly, if I sunbathed here in my bikini, I would feel uncomfortable.
If you want the standard foreigner beach experience with alcohol and pudgy bodies unabashedly walking around half-naked, any of the popular beaches in Langkawi will be better than this. If you crave peace, the nearby Tanjung Rhu Beach is just as quiet but is much better maintained and more tourist-friendly. You’re not missing anything if you don’t come to see Black Sand Beach.