Hidden from plain sight, postcard-perfect Tuba Island aspires to be a world-class model of sustainable and green
development for an island destination.
Perhaps it was my blinkered vision of paradise but as I rode my rented motorcycle around Tuba Island, a feeling of nostalgia mixed with heady triumph swept over me. Nostalgia because the scene that unfolded before me was like a blast from the past – idyllic and tranquil, with buffaloes grazing at the fallow padi fields, and chickens nearby while fishermen were repairing their fishing nets by the sea.
Coming from the opposite direction was a group of
school children racing on their bicycles merrily.
‘Heady triumph’ because this seemed like the discovery of the year for me – a pristine island off Langkawi
Archipelago of 99 islands that’s still stuck in a time warp. Scattered around the island were jungles, lush foliage, sandy beaches and rocky coastlines that form part of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, one of three geoforest parks that make up Langkawi’s UNESCO-designated Geopark.
There I was with the wind blowing into my face as I rode past the picturesque landscape at a slow 40km per hour. I was savouring every moment of that journey into the past as fresh sea breeze enveloped my entire being.
In my naïve reckoning, I was half hoping that this little secret of Langkawi would remain like this for a long time to come. A precious time capsule in a world rushing towards progress and fast-paced development.
The food specialty of the island, prawn and crab noodles further sealed that sentiment – it was the most delicious meal I have had so far in Langkawi, and very affordable too. “This island paradise should continue to preserve its pristine charm and any developments should be as sustainable as possible,” I’d thought.
That was exactly the same sentiment echoed by Rosly Selamat, a committee member of Friends of Langkawi Geopark (FLAG), an NGO based in Langkawi. Rosly is no stranger to Tuba Island having first set foot there in 2016 at the behest of a friend who owns a beach house at Teluk Puyuh. Rosly too was similarly captivated by the island’s untouched condition.
“Tuba should have a carefully structured and sustainable plan moving forward,” he opines, adding that the island can set the best example in the world to emulate for sustainable development of an island destination.
“Tuba can be world class in this sense and make it to the world tourism map, sharing with the world our correct sustainable approach,” he voices his hope.
“It must be seen as an extension of the tourism value-chain even though the authorities have overlooked a lot of the basic infrastructure on the island such as the lack of tourist information centre, no maintenance of tourism sites, insufficient signage and no public toilets.”