Pulau Tuba – Langkawi’s third largest island located 5km and 20 minutes by boat from Kuah – is home to a sleepy traditional fishing village with a population of about 4,000.
Today, the island is transforming into a must-visit tourist destination.
Long before visitors got scent of the charm of Pulau Tuba, Buddhist devotees are already visiting Wang Buloh Cave where a tall stalagmite has taken the shape of a ‘Praying Man’ that resembles the Goddess of Mercy or Kuan Yin.
“We were having a clean-up programme on the island once when we saw five buses taking people to the cave. We saw visitors praying to the limestone formation,” geopark ranger Zamzuri Ramli says.
For those interested in geology, Pulau Tuba features limestone bedrocks and tell-tale rock formations that were caused by tectonic earth movements millions of years ago and interest wetlands.
Another beautiful location is an inland lake that is the roosting place for migrating egrets. The place makes a great picnic spot.
The Bat Cave, or Gua Kelawar on the island also showcases limestone formation. Its cave walls also ‘exhibit’ ancient oyster shells that are embedded in them.
These features at various geosites on the island make great scenic locations for visitors to take photographs while they enjoy their serene surroundings.
For the fit and adventurous, the peak of Pulau Tuba can be reached by hiking. The climb takes only 90 minutes.
For long distance runners, the island is also becoming a popular sports venue. Pulau Tuba will host the Second 2016 Tuba Trail Run that covers 30km in April. Not fully-developed, Pulau Tuba also gives visitors the chance to see how the small island community go about their simple lives in their humble ‘virgin village’ and co-exist harmoniously with the local wildlife and natural environment.
The locals still rely on the sea for their livelihood. They farm and go into the forest to
collect herbs, wild fruits, wax and honey. The women are skilled in weaving with pandan and coconut leaves.
As tourism in Langkawi grows, locals and entrepreneurs from outside Langkawi are seeing the potential of making Pulau Tuba a new destination for visitors.
Infrastructures are being improved and there are now homestay programmes offered by locals and hotels like Nadias Hotel that recently built its new property Nadias Villa on the island, giving high-end tourists a private beachfront getaway on Pantai Pasir Panjang; and the Tuba Beach Resort. The resort next to the longest fishermen’s jetty in Kedah offers guests a spectacular view of the open sea, the sunrise, activities like fishing and hunting for shellfish and crabs, kayaking and bicycling.
In a moonless night, visitors can try squid scooping, oyster picking. Anglers can choose between fishing in open waters at hidden fishing sites like ‘Unjam-unjam’ and fishing from a platform.
During the low tide, mollacses and a type of – sea cucumber called ‘beronok’ can be found in the shallow waters of Batu Reban, which is a good fish ground. Locals make a special kerabu (salad) by cooking the beronok with other ingredients. Another delicacy is ‘lattut’ a seaweed harvested during certain season and eaten raw with chilli sauce.
Visitors can also catch hermit crabs under trees in bushes or the seabed; go jungle-trekking and watch eagles, otters and monitor lizards. A fairly recent discovery is firefly watching on Pulau Tuba.