The Perhentian Islands lie on South China Sea, northeast coast of the Malaysian peninsula. Although, they are not as popular as the islands of neighboring Thailand, they have an exquisite charm due to their seclusion from the rest of the world.
Pulau Perhentian has two main islands which are called Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar. Both islands are blessed with the most stunning beaches which possess all the right attributes like powdery white sand, turquoise blue water and coconut trees. The islands are free from excessive commercialism that most beach islands are plagued with. Thus, a visit to the Perhentian gets you closer to nature.
Perhentian Besar attracts people looking for a family-friendly vacation. There are only a handful of luxury hotels on the island and most of them can be found at the beachfront. The Main Beach in Besar provides a picturesque view with fine white sand, coral pieces and coconut palms. You can find most resorts on the western part of the island. Other notable beaches on the island are Teluk Pauh and Teluk Dalam. Teluk Pauh is a lovely bay on the northern section. Teluk is the quietest beach on Besar and is identified by its curve white sand.
Perhentian Kecil is home to a small fishing community locally called Kampur Pasir Hantu, which is the only permanent settlement on the island. If you are a budget traveler, then Kecil is better option because it offers cheaper accommodation. Kecil’s most highly-visited beach is located at the east coast and is called Long Beach (Pasir Pangjang). This beach is the only one that has a decent nightlife, but alcohol is generally more expensive compared to other Southeast Asian countries and the brands choices are limited. Accommodation on this beach is generally the cheapest. Another nice attraction which is only 15 minutes away from Long beach is the Coral Bay.
If you intend to visit the islands, snorkeling and diving are the top activities to do. The islands’ surrounding water is also considered world-class site for diverse marine creatures and habitat. Another popular activity is virgin forests hiking, because of the rich wildlife that can be found in the area. The prominent diving sites near the islands are the Pinnacle also known as Tokong Laut and Sugar Wreck. Dive shops around the area offer trips and trainings at a considerably low price due to steep competition.
Kuala Besut is the main access point to the Perhentian Islands. Ferries run from this town to the islands regularly. There are no established roads on the islands but you can find some footpaths in the forests and other walking tracks that can lead you to other locations. Aside from walking, the best way to explore the other parts of the islands is by renting a sea taxi operated by locals.
The recommended travel period to the Perhentian’s is from early March to late October. Outside this period, the east monsoon brings in strong winds and produce very rough waters. Due to such bad weather, the transfer of basic goods is severely affected, so a number of accommodations are forced to close. If you visit the island during the off-season, you will most likely encounter just a few tourists there so it will be much like having the place to yourself but your choice of a place to stay and restaurants will be very limited.