Southeast Asia’s charter industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus, but for those of you planning to cruise in the Andaman Sea in the post-Covid-19 area, you’re likely to find less humans and a lot more marine life.
It’s an attractive proposition for the new age of charter in the region, with southern Thailand reporting a huge resurgence in the visibility of sea turtles, dolphins, dugongs, blacktip sharks and false killer whales, an oceanic dolphin.
“Covid may have even benefited the environment in this part of the world,” says Captain Gerry Ross of 39.4m charter yacht Lady Azul. “Wildlife and marine life are coming back, and having dugongs come back in such great numbers is remarkable.”
Like Ross and his family, the five-cabin Lady Azul is based in Langkawi. The four-deck, Dutch-built superyacht is scheduled to spend its second straight winter since its extensive seven-month refit by cruising up and down the Andaman Sea off the west coast of northern Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Having lived in Langkawi for a decade, Ross has a range of favourite anchorages and destinations he suggests to clients, starting with the Kilim Geoforest Park on the northeast coast of Langkawi Island, one of 99 islands in the archipelago of the same name.
“This area is bulletproof for weather and we typically anchor out in front of ‘Hole in the Wall’,” says Ross of the entrance situated by the huge Kilim Geoforest Park sign on the side of a vertical limestone karst.
The 100sqkm nature reserve is notable for its karsts, mangrove swamps and pristine beaches, and Ross says it’s a great place to watch eagles feed and explore caves.
Datai Bay is on the west end of the island’s north coast and Ross suggests anchoring in front of The Andaman, where guests can use the beach and resort facilities, a nice way to break up a trip.
Other highlights are ‘The Fjords’ south of the main island and to the west of Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden), the archipelago’s second-largest island.
This is another protected area that offers great weather almost year-round and Ross has a favourite anchorage between Kentut Kecil and Kentut Besar (Kentut ‘small’ and ‘big’), two little islands north of Beras Basah (Wet Rice), itself west of Singa Besar (Big Lion).
Further north, close to the southern tip of Langkawi Island, are the stunning, forest-clad Intan (Diamond) islands, which are ringed with beautiful beaches and palm trees.
“You can easily spend several days in this area,” the New Zealander says. “There are many small islands to explore and we can cruise into some secret spots. The whole area has great beaches and clear water, perfect for snorkelling and diving.”
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