If you are looking for a great Malaysian getaway travel to the tropical paradise Perhantian Islands. Dive into the crystal clear water and encounter turtles, colourful fish or even sharks at the beautiful reefs; lounge on the white sandy beaches, and enjoy the magic of a cozy bonfire under the star-filled sky!
Perhentian Islands are made up of two main islands: Kecil ('small') and Besar ('large'). Kecil is the preferred choice for backpackers whereas Besar offer higher standards of accommodation and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, which caters more to couples and newlyweds.
Both islands offer nice sandy beaches, coral reefs, and turqoise waters where you will find turles, beautiful reef fish, clownfish (think: "Finding Nemo"), jellyfish and small sharks. The islands are covered in jungle and have no roads - only foot trails.
What to do?
Perhentian Islands are all about the water activities. The are numerous diving schools on both islands, which cater to both beginners, who want to get a diver's certificate, and the more experienced who are ready to just dive in. The most popular diving sites include The Pinnacle, The Sugar Wreck, and Redang Island.
If diving is too advanced or costly for you, why not get yourself some snorkelling gear and venture off on your own? This is a great chance to get up close with the marine life and the visibility is often very good.
You can also get yourself a kayak and go find yourself a more isolated beach for the perfect getaway. Non-water activities include jungle trekking where you have a good chance of spotting large monitor lizards, large spiders, and maybe even some wild monkeys. Water taxis are also a good option if you want to explore the islands...but of course you could also just stay on the beach and do nothing at all if that is what you prefer.
When darkness falls, gather around a bonfire with fellow travellers and enjoy one of the daily fireshows as the beginning of another great beach party on Perhentian Islands.
Bonus tip: If you are staying on Kecil - the smaller of the two islands - be sure to catch a movie under the stars at Ombak Resort between Long Beach and Coral Bay. Sit comfortably in the sand or a beach chair, enjoy amazing food, and listen to the calm waves in the background. This is an experience not to be missed!
Perhentian Islands are accessible by boats from Kuala Besut on the mainland. To get to Kuala Besut from Kuala Lumpur you can take an overnight bus. You can also fly, take a train or a bus to either Kuala Terengganu or Kota Bharu. From either town you then grab a taxi or a minivan to Kuala Besut. The boatride to Perhentian Islands is approximately 40 minutes depending on the size of the boat.
The best time to visit the Perhantian Islands is between April and September due the warm weather and limited rainfall. In this period the average daily temperatures are in the lower 30C's. Avoid the moonsoon season between October and March, where the islands are more or less closed off to tourists.
Do not forget the following:
- Be sure to check if you need any vaccinations when travelling to Perhentian Islands and wear sun screen as the UV index is a lot stronger than what we are used to
- Bring cash as there are no ATMs on any of the islands and only few places accept credit cards
- Many of the hostels and hotels do not accept bookings in advance so it pays off to take an early boat when going to Perhentian Islands