One of the most popular beaches in Langkawi is undoubtedly Pantai Cenang. And no wonder, with the variety of accommodation facilities, from five-star resorts, to budget chalets, as well as restaurants and bars dotting this 2km long stretch of beautiful beach. Occasionally being referred to as the ‘Waikiki of Langkawi,’ Pantai Cenang owes its origin to Haji Din, the owner of Sandy Beach Motel.
As endearingly narrated by Haji Din, the story goes that a couple of Caucasians or ‘Mat Sallehs’ backpackers made their way to Langkawi and wanted to stay the night in Pantai Cenang. This was back in teh days when there weren’t any chalets, motels or resorts there as tourists were still far and few in between. As the visiting couple was passing through Haji Din’s place, they spotted his barn and asked him if it was okay for them to put up there there for the night. Haji Din, every friendly and warm, happily obliged and in a show of typical Malay hospitality to travellers, even provided some meals for them.
When the couple left Langkawi for Bali and Bangkok, they promoted Langkawi and Haji Din’s warm hospitality to fellow tourists. Many, who came to Langkawi later on, would go and stay at Haji Din’s place. Motivated by this, Haji Din decided to venture into setting up budget chalets. He built several A-shape chalets from photographs he took in Koh Sa Mui, Thailand whilst on holiday. Today, at the very spot where the barn once stood is the 100-room Sandy Beach Motel.
Today, Pantai Cenang is still one of the places where warm hospitality abounds and chalet owners like Haji Din can still be found if you look hard enough among the many accommodation outfits along this beach.