Malaysia: Marinas on the West Coast
Published 9 years ago, updated 5 years ago
From south to north:
Admiral Marina, Port Dickson
This is a very well designed marina; it is extremely well protected and there are no problems with depths at the entrance or in the marina itself. The water inside the marina is very clean.
The approach can be a little unnerving if there is an on-shore wind. You have to head directly for the beach until fairly close in, before turning to starboard to make the entrance. On the beach, there are two large block hotels, next to a low-level hotel with pagoda-like roofs. The external marina ‘wall’ has three luxury homes on it.
There are bags of space inside the marina to manoeuvre a boat and plenty of catamaran berths too. If you arrive after office hours, you can tie up to the fuel dock overnight (first dock on left). The fuel dock is not used as the pumps are broken. Very clean fuel is available at the marina but the guys will bring it to your boat in jerry cans (3RM a litre).
The toilets and showers are well appointed and fairly clean, although there is only one block open at present (next to the swimming pool). The marina has several facilities available and free of charge to sailors: swimming pool (free towels up to max of two per boat); tennis court (shaded by neighbouring building by about 5.15pm, free hire of rackets and balls); five-a-side football pitch; garage space under the marina hotel complex which is great for shaded storage of bikes or cars. Free wifi in marina building only.
There is a row of local shops about 15 minutes walk to the right on the main road, after leaving the marina complex. Within this, there is a supermarket (vegetables and fish too), cellphone shops, a bank (not yet open. ATM at 7-11 but doesn’t accept all cards), a laundry (much cheaper than the marina) and numerous local restaurants.
There is a bus (about 1 – 2 every hour) going to Port Dickson from the marina side of the main road. Costs only 1.7 RM. The nearest rail station is at Seremban (53RM taxi), where you can catch a train to KL or Singapore. Pre-booking advisable and can be done online, easily, with tickets collected at the station.
There is a small hardstanding area at the marina (only one stored yacht there in May 2015; all small motor boats). There are no chandlery or yacht services, although there are auto, hardware and fishing stores in PD.
Pangkor Marina has been designed as part of a new artificial island luxury resort. The artificial island part of the development is complete but there is a distinct lack of luxury within it. Only a few buildings are in situ and these are mostly empty and already deteriorating. The marina itself though is well run and friendly and is one of only two ‘full-service’ marinas on the west coast.
The approach waypoint takes you directly across the channel from Pangkor Island to the marina and crosses a bar on the way, which would have been too shallow for us (our draft 1.85m) at low water. There are fast ferries taking the same route as the ferry terminal is just outside the marina. There is no breakwater outside the marina and wash from the ferries does come into it. The space between the pontoons is fairly tight and the marina itself is quite small, so you need to have the boat prepared before entry.
The marina office is within the ferry terminal and has an air-conditioned lounge and a large library. Free wifi is available there but not at the berths. Celcom signal is poor. The toilets and showers are limited in number and are situated near the yard. Basic but clean.
There is parking for hire cars but it isn’t shaded.
The yard is gravel and was full of boats when we were there, both stored and being worked on. The marina keeps a list of local service providers and apparently has good knowledge of their work standards. You can get lots of work done on your boat here but not all services are available. You would need to check with the marina first. There is a large shed, with room for about 7 monohulls, in the yard: would be perfect for working on the boat in the shade or dry, with the mast down.
There are a couple of small local cafes at the ferry terminal or you can walk (about 30 mins) over to the mainland and turn right for a small row of shops with other options. There is also a grocery store with limited option veggies there too.
The marina can arrange for laundry to be done. They will fill propane bottles and they can deliver fuel in jerry cans.
There is a bus to KL airport from close to the marina.
The marina currently has a special deal on price if you join the Sail Malaysia Rally: 40% off the price of a 3-month stay.
NB if internet access is important to you at this point in the Malacca Straits, the anchorage off the Lumut Yacht Club has fast Celcom coverage.
Straits Quay Marina, Penang
Straits Quay Marina is part of a luxury housing/shopping development in the northeast of Penang island. It is well run by John and his team and is conveniently situated close to bus routes and large supermarkets. Straits Quay is typical of the new Malaysian marina designs; whereby the moored boats provide a focal point which attracts the big restaurant chains and adds value to the whole development. This also means a very nice place to tie your boat up as well but there are disadvantages because the enterprise is not designed with the needs of yachties in mind (ie no yacht services, fuel, gas, etc).
The approach to Straits Quay can be difficult due to depths. There is meant to be 3m below chart datum in the dredged channel but this has already silted. John advises: aim to arrive around high water and then just plough through any mud under the keel! We found the best depths following an arc towards the entrance from about 100m before the 2nd leading line.
Straits Quay Marina is small and popular and therefore visitor’s berths are at a premium. Booking in advance is usually required. There is space for manoeuvering, but this may be used for rafting up boats from time to time. The water is kept clean, by John and his team, with the constant removal of rubbish which floats in with the tide. Look out for a couple of resident Water Monitor Lizards swimming around.
The toilets and showers are very nicely appointed and spotlessly clean. There is one washing machine and one dryer, coin-operated, in the ladies’ shower rooms. Both take over an hour so there is often a queue for laundry, but they are effective at cleaning the clothes. There didn’t seem to be a problem with hanging laundry to dry on the boat. The lounge is air conditioned and comfortable with small book library. Free wifi works well from some berths.
There are plenty of eateries around the marina itself but they are all fairly expensive. For budget options, head for the nearest Chinese food court, called Viva (go to Tesco, turn right, under the footbridge and walk until you reach it on the right; or alternative route is to follow the promenade path from the marina; along the seafront to north and then around the apartment block at the end of the park: about 20 minutes either way).
Rebak Marina is the closest you can get to a full-service marina in west coast Malaysia. It is large, extremely well protected, has a wonderful swimming pool and has a good yard and haul-out service. Even here, however, it’s not possible to access the complete range of marine services and provisioning involves transporting goods from the mainland via the ferry. If you need to carry out large/complex marine projects then really your only option is to go to Phuket.
The marina is part of a luxury hotel resort on an island off the coast of Langkawi. There is a free passenger ferry which departs several times a day to the nearby mainland village of Cenang, where there are some provisioning opportunities and plenty of eateries within walking distance. For serious provisioning, you need to hire a car but this is easily done by phoning Mr Din (012 4020827) and for only 50RM he will meet you from the ferry and hand you the keys (no forms to fill in but no insurance either). The nearest petrol station is in Matsirat near the airport. Best local provisioning is at the Chinese grocery store on the same road as the fuel station: they sell large blocks of Anchor Cheddar and a good range of Sailors products (meat, sausages, pies and bread etc). The small produce market in Matsirat has much better quality veggies though. Otherwise, go across on the ferry on Friday mornings for the Veggie man’s stall (good range but expensive).
There is a cafe for sailors at the marina but, although much cheaper than the hotel restaurant, is still expensive by Malaysian standards. There is a small grocery store but the products are expensive and limited. At the back of the store is a small laundry with washers and dryers; 3RM per load.
All of the resort facilities are open to marina residents but most of them are costly. You can play tennis, table tennis and volleyball for free though or visit the gym. There are a couple of walking/biking trails on the island (the one on the ridge behind the boatyard is described below).
It’s not possible to clear into Langkawi at Rebak. You can do this at Kuah or at Telaga. Customs don’t visit the boat though so it’s possible to make the visit via hire car from Rebak.
There is a chandlery in the boatyard and they can order any parts from the West Marine catalogue. Propane bottles can be filled at the yard. Fuel is not available.
The shower facilities are very worn and scruffy; surprising in such a luxury environment. The shower at the swimming pool is more pleasant to use.
The hotel at Rebak serves a fantastic Christmas dinner which is very popular with cruising folk although very expensive (100RM per person). This is cheap compared to the New Year Party though. The marina gets very busy around the holiday time and the management insists on pre-payment when booking.
There are a group of liveaboard cruisers who have made Rebak their home. This group includes a Yoga tutor and some musicians: jamming sessions occur most evenings in the covered area by the shop.
The great weather protection in the marina does have a couple of disadvantages: it can be very hot and there are lots of mosquitoes (the most we saw anywhere). The resort does regular de-bugging but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Wifi is very poor in the marina but slightly better next to the beach, as is Celcom coverage.
Note: If you need propane refills, you can anchor outside the marina, dinghy them in and then collect them a couple of days later.
Ridge walk (about 45 mins)
Walk to the boatyard, go up the short road between the workshops and then turn left onto the track behind and above the hardstand. Keep walking past the hardstand until you come to a pile of construction rubble on the left. Take the steep path up the hill (with ropes strung between trees as handrails). The track is steep but not difficult in the dry. At the top, there is a path going downhill to the left which leads to North Beach only. For the circular route, continue straight ahead along the wide path which gradually slopes downhill. Don’t turn off. At the bottom of the hill, bear right until you reach a hut on a mound. Keep the hut to your left and head downhill back to the yard. Great bird-life early in the morning.
Telaga Marina is in the north-west of Langkawi island, remote from the main centres but close to tourist attractions like the cable car and the waterfalls. The marina is part of a luxury hotel/restaurant development. Customs / Immigration / Harbour Master has offices right on the waterfront so the location is convenient for clearance into and out of Malaysia. Telaga is also notable too for having the only functioning fuel dock on the whole west coast (petrol and diesel), which is managed by the large Petronas fuel station next to the marina building.
There is an ATM in the building adjoining the garage. Laundry, bakery and small grocery store (no fresh produce), plus restaurants are by the superyacht dock on the far side of the marina. None of the eateries is cheap here. If you’re in the anchorage, take the dinghy to the west end of the beach where the local cafes are. You can easily walk from there to the cable car, or the waterfall access (great sliding rocks for kids) but involves about 350 concrete steps to get up there.
The veggie man (same as Rebak) calls at Telaga at about 10.30am on Fridays. Apart from a good range of (mostly imported) vegetables, he also sells some bread, yoghurt, fish and meat.
You can hire a car via the marina at 10RM per hour. No paperwork.
There is a very small air-conditioned lounge with a book swap. Showers and toilets are a little scruffy and not that clean but there is hot water, which is useful for a bit of hand laundry!
If you are at anchor in Telaga, you can access all of the above services. No-one asked us to pay to use the dinghy dock/showers etc. Telaga anchorage was the one place in Langkawi that we could get very good Celcom coverage.
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club
This is in a very convenient location, on the edge of the main town of Kuah. It’s easy to walk from the marina to the nearest supermarket (Billion in the first mall on the right) in about 10 minutes, or further into town where there are numerous interesting restaurants, a cinema and lots of local shops. The YC is undergoing extensive renovation work at the moment and berths may be limited. Poor Celcom coverage here. Local yachties often use the Starbucks at the ferry terminal for 45 mins wifi per purchase.
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