Located on the north-eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, about 21km off the coast of the quaint town of Kuala Besut, lie lovely unspoiled islands amidst exquisitely clear waters.Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian) and Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian) make up Perhentian Island, the name taken from the Malay word 'henti' or 'stop'. Aptly, as they have been for centuries providing shelter for fishermen against storms and choppy waters. Now the serene azure shores of the islands are shared by leisure seekers and beach lovers alike. Inland from the immaculate beaches, rocky virgin jungle provides hours of trekking adventure. And of course, underneath the crystal clear waters around the island, corals and amazing marine life are just waiting to welcome you. A reward you'll come back for, again and again.
The islands remain relatively untouched and the only permanent inhabitants live in a small fishing village on Perhentian Kecil. Apart from footpaths that cut through the jungle, there are no roads on the islands. The only way to get around is by walking through the jungle or taking a sea taxi. If you tread carefully, you may even encounter some of the islands’ shy wildlife on the way, such as monitor lizards, fruit bats, squirrels or even the elusive mouse deer. Simple chalets and some moderately luxurious resorts line the picturesque beaches along with restaurants, dive centres and boat operators advertising their services with hand-painted signs.
Pulau Perhentian is located in the South China Sea 21 km from the coast of Kuala Besut, Terengganut. For hundred of years ago vessel sailing from the south coast of Peninsular Malaysia to Bangkok will stop-by for a rest and shelter at the Island. They all an ancient merchant carrying food, jewelry, vast and etc. As the activities of merchants, sailors and traders from the South of Chinese Sea have taken place, the island is getting popular for their 'one stop station', these Islands were named as 'Once Stop Island' so called 'Pulau Perhentian' in Malay language.
It comprises of two islands; Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Both islands are surrounded by beautiful palm-fringed powdery white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise-blue sea.
The two Perhentian Islands are rated as some of the most beautiful islands in the world; a virtual paradise for snorkelling and diving in crystal-clear water or just for lazing on one of the white sandy beaches waiting for the coconuts to drop …
The two main islands are heavily forested and ringed with sandy beaches, typical of tropical islands. Accomodation for visitors are predominantly aimed at budget travellers and is mostly on the larger Pulau Perhentian Besar, which not only has wonderful beaches but also forest trails over the hills.
Both islands are separated by a very narrow sound but with strong current. The significant different between the two islands is, Perhentian Besar is more for a vocational island while the small one is an island with the mixture of vacation mood and reality life due to the fishing village, Kampung Pasir Hantu which is resided with more than 2000 villagers and completed with basic facilities apart from resorts and guesthouses.
All manner of aquatic life is visible both near and far from the beach such as turtles, sharks, coral and thousands of tropical fish. The interior is covered by jungle with a wide variety of species. You can watch monitor lizards, monkeys, geckos, flying squirrels, butterflies and many other types - sometimes right in front of your chalet. There are no roads and not many paths, so the islands are mainly peaceful and untouched - so far.
Perhaps it is the stretches of white beach or the crystal clear water and the superior scuba diving. Perhaps it is the untouched forests or the relaxed atmosphere and unspoiled charm. We like to think that is a little bit of all of this that makes the Perhentian Islands the perfect place to stop and take some time out.
Travel Tips To Perhentian Islands
The best time to visit
The monsoon season peaks between November and March every year. You can expect more rain and rough seas and most resorts are typically closed from end October through end-February. Peak season is between July and August and prices rise accordingly. During off-peak times, rates are negotiable. You may need to book well in advance during peak time and also for public holidays and weekends. Note that most budget resorts do not accept bookings and handle guests on a walk-in basis only.
Equatorial with fairly uniform temperatures year-round, ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Humidity is high (85-95%). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm and most rain can be expected between November and February.
Very casual. There are no dress restrictions on the islands and light cotton clothing, t-shirts and shorts would be suitable. In some villages and rural areas, modest clothing is more appropriate. Topless sunbathing for women is not acceptable. Terengganu is an Islamic state and it is best to dress modestly when in doubt.
Currency and credit cards
The Malaysian currency unit is Ringgit (RM) and sen, where 100 sen equals one Ringgit. US$ 1 is roughly RM 3.20 (Check www.oanda.com for up to date exchange rates). Foreign currency can be converted at banks and money changers at the airport and in Semporna.
Visitors are not permitted to take more than RM 1000 in Malaysian currency out of the country and no more in foreign currency than was brought in.
There are money changers on the island but you can expect a rather poor rate.
There are no banks or ATMs on the island or in Kuala Besut. Some resorts and dive centres accept VISA and Mastercard but it is best to have enough cash with you to cover your expenses while at the island. The closest ATMs and banks can be found in Jerteh (15 km from Kuala Besut).
ShoppingExpect to pay significantly more for everything on the island than you would pay on the mainland. There are several convenience and souvenir stores as well as laundry service.
Telephone and Internet
Some resorts have telephone facilities, including facilities for international phone calls. The access code for making international calls from Malaysia is 00. For more information, dial 103.
Mobile phone reception is intermittent on the island.
There are a few Internet cafes on the island, many of them along Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil, offering fairly expensive Internet connections (RM 8-20 per hour). Some resorts offer chargeable internet access and/or free or chargeable wifi for their guests.
Tap water is safe for drinking in Malaysia, provided that it is boiled first. On the Perhentian Islands, some resorts make use of mountain sources for their water supply and the water is filtered and safe for immediate consumption. In other areas it’s best to stick to bottled water – enquire with your resort. There is also ample bottled water for sale and all dive centres provide freshwater bins for the rinse of cameras and equipment.
Electricity is not always available 24 hours a day as many resorts make use of their own generators. Some have 24 hour electricity; some have 3 hours downtime a day while others may only provide electricity at night.
The connection is 220V, 50 cycles using a plug with three rectangular prongs similar to UK plugs. Adaptors for other plugs can be purchased at airports and some stores elsewhere.
Health and medical services
The only vaccination requirements are yellow fever for those from infected areas. While still listed as a malaria-infected country, most literature states that malaria has been widely eradicated from most parts of Malaysia. Discuss your needs with an experienced travel doctor.
Warning: divers should never take Lariam because of common side-effects including nausea and vertigo. Discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Resorts and dive centres have basic first aid services and the closest clinic is in the fishing village on Perhentian Kecil.
Bahasa Malaysia is the official language but English is widely spoken and understood.
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time.
Visitors will need an international driving licence. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and it is advisable to observe the speed limits, which are generally 50km/h in the city or residential areas and 80km/h or 110km/h on the highway and expressway.
There are no roads on the island.
There is a police station in the fishing village on Perhentian Kecil.
Visitors to Malaysia are advised that the trafficking of drugs in the country is an offence punishable by the death penalty.
Religion and culture
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam but there is freedom of worship. When entering mosques, women are required to cover their hair and no shorts or tank tops are allowed for either men or women
There are no dress restrictions, but it is best to dress modestly when visiting villages or Muslim families. For the beach a normal bathing suit or bikini is perfectly acceptable, but topless sunbathing will not be well received.
Shoes are usually removed before entering homes and also in some shops and restaurants. Terengganu is an Islamic state and while these customs are not forced upon visitors, tourists are expected to respect local customs.
Weekends are observed on Fridays and Saturdays in the state of Terengganu. Offices and many shops will be closed on Fridays.
Tipping is not mandatory but is widely practised. RM2-RM5. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge in all their bills.
Citizens from the following countries are required to have a visa to visit Malaysia : North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. Nationals other than those stated will receive a visa upon arrival or are allowed to enter Malaysia without a visa for a visit not exceeding one month. However, it is recommended that visa enquiries are made at the Malaysian embassy or Malaysian consulate closest to you, as regulations are subject to change. Also check http://www.imi.gov.my/ for updated information.
Enquire with the dive centre of your choice about their underwater photography and videography services.
Tourist Information Centers
Please contact the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board for tourist information. http://tourism.gov.my
Accommodition In Perhentian Islands
There are plenty of budget and midrange accommodation options on the Perhentian Islands, with one or two more comfortable resorts, but nothing luxurious. During weekends, Malaysian public holidays and the peak season (July-August) prices rise along with demand and it is best to book ahead (where possible – most budget resorts do not accept bookings).
Perhentian Kecil is more geared towards the budget traveller and the backpacker scene, especially along the idyllic Long Beach (Pasir Panjang). A fifteen minute walk through the jungle takes you to Coral Bay (Teluk Aur), which is smaller and quieter, while also predominantly catering for budget travellers. The other resorts on this island occupy their own private beach coves and are priced in the budget or moderate category. There are also a few uninhabited, secluded beaches scattered around the island.
Perhentian Besar is the larger of the two islands and resorts here are more geared towards families and also towards scuba divers. The northernmost, nicest bay is called Teluk Pauhand is where you will find the Perhentian Island Resort. A walkway connects you to the main west coast beaches facing Perhentian Kecil, each with a cluster of resorts, dive centres and restaurants and separated by rocky headlands. The southern beach, Teluk Dalam has a wide curve of sand, a handful of resorts and is the quietest beach on this island.
Apart from walking, sea taxis are the only way to get around. Expect to pay RM 10 – 25 per person per trip (5-15 minutes).
Guide To Perhentian Islands
The Perhentian Islands are located around 25km from Kuala Besut on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The islands are reached by speedboat or slow boats from the Kuala Besut jetty, or by chartered boat from the nearby Redang and Lang Tengah Islands.
There is a RM 5 conservation charge per person for going to the island.
Remember that there are no ATMs or banks in Kuala Besut or on the Perhentian Islands. Visa and Mastercard are only accepted at a few resorts. The closest ATMS are in Jerteh.
Boat Services to the Perhentian Islands
Apart from chartered boat services that depart from nearby islands (Redang, Lang Tengah) all boats to the Perhentian Islands depart from Kuala Besut.
Speedboats cost RM 70 return (RM 40 one way) and depart according to demand, usually four to five times per day, starting at 07:00 in the morning. Boats will drop you off at the resort or beach of your choice and the trip takes 30-45 minutes.
Slow wooden fishing boats are also sometimes available but need to be chartered. The cost is RM 300 per trip and they usually require 12 persons minimum. It can take up to 2 hours to reach the island this way.
If the sea is rough you can be assured of a bumpy ride and you may even get wet. You may need to disembark in shallow water if there is no jetty at your beach, so dress (and pack) accordingly.
Getting to Kuala Besut
Kuala Besut is 50km south of Kota Bharu and 110km north of Kuala Terengganu on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia in the state of Terengganu.
The closest airports are in Kota Bharu and in Kuala Terengganu.
Air Asia flies daily to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru and to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines flies daily to Kota Bharu and to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur.
Firefly flies daily to Kota Bharu from Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Subang airport).
By road – public transport
Apart from the Kuala Lumpur service that goes directly to Kuala Besut, most long distance buses to this region are bound for Kota Bharu but will drop you at Jerteh (around 15km from Kuala Besut) if you ask. From Jerteh you can easily get a taxi to Kuala Besut (RM 10-20), even if you arrive in the early hours of the morning as taxi drivers often wait for buses to arrive.
From Kuala Lumpur, Mahligai and Mutiara have coach services twice daily (morning and evening) to Kuala Besut. The trip takes 8-9 hours and costs around RM 30. The bus station is walking distance from the jetty.
From Singapore, Transnasional has an overnight business class service to Kota Bharu. Ask to be dropped off at Jerteh. The trip takes around 9 hours and costs SGD 45. You can board the same bus in Johor Bahru (around RM 50) or opt for the economy service (around RM 40).
From Penang, there are several bus services to Kota Bahru or Jerteh.
From Kuala Terengganu you can take any northbound local bus or coach service and ask to be dropped off at Jerteh..
From Kota Bharu there are direct local bus services or you can take a taxi.
Several travel agents and tour operators offer transfers (usually via air-conditioned minivan) between Kuala Besut and the Cameron Highlands, Taman Negara National Park or Kuala Lumpur. Costs are around RM 60-90 per person each way.
By road – self drive
From Kuala Lumpur take the east bound highway (East Coast Expressway) in the direction of Kuantan. From Kuantan, take the coastal road (highway 3) north, in the direction of Kuala Terengganu (follow signs along the way). From Kuala Terengganu, take either highway 3 or highway 14 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 7-8 hours.
From Singapore / Johor Bahru Cross the border at Woodlands or the Second Link and from Johor Bahru take the Plus highway north. Exit at Yong Peng. Follow highway 1 to Labis and Segamat, highway 12 to Kuantan, then use either highway 14 to Kuala Terengganu or coastal highway 3 via Kemaman, Paka and Dungun. From Kuala Terengganu, take either highway 3 or highway 14 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 8-9 hours.
From Penang take the East-West highway 4 towards Kota Bharu via Grik and Jertih. From Kota Bahru, proceed south on highway 3 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 8-9 hours.
What To Do In Perhentian Island
The Perhentian Islands are the ideal place to relax and forget about your cares and most people that visit here laze away their days in the sun. However, if you are tired of waiting for coconuts to drop, there are still some things that you can do to keep yourself occupied.
These islands have been gazetted as a marine park and as such littering, fishing and collecting of any marine life (whether dead or alive) is strictly prohibited. As it is a marine park, this also means that the rich diversity of aquatic life has been preserved and it is beautiful to experience.
Apart from walking, the only way to get around is by sea taxi. Expect to pay around RM 10-25 per person for 5-15 minute transfers.
Various operators and resorts offer snorkelling outings around the two islands, ranging anything from one and a half hours to a full day. Trips cost RM 35-60 per person, depending on the duration, stops and whether equipment rental is included or not.
Some of the popular spots for snorkelling are Shark Point, Teluk Pauh and Tanjung Basi. If you are lucky, a combination of these stops may mean that you see a turtle, some black tip reef sharks and an abundance of colourful coral all in one trip.
The sheer amounts of visitors and careless practices have resulted in damage to the coral and consequently the marine life around the islands. To ensure that you keep yourself safe and do your part to contribute to the conservation of these incredible ecosystems, keep the following in mind:
Touching or standing on coral damages or even kills them and re-growth takes years
Control your buoyancy carefully. Use a life jacket and only use fins if you are completely confident that you will not accidentally touch the coral.
Do not litter. Some animals (like turtles) may mistake plastic bags for food and choke to death.
Stay within the designated areas so that you do not cross boat paths and get hit
Do not touch or disturb any marine life in any way. You may hurt them and some of them may hurt you. Keep your distance from Triggerfish as they may be aggressive, especially when guarding a nest
Keep yourself protected from the sun
When renting equipment, ask for assistance and tips from your resort to ensure a good fit (especially of your mask)
Scuba diving around the Perhentian Islands is a superb experience and many people visit here time and time again to explore the deep.
Some of the top spots are Tokong Laut (Temple of the Sea, also known as the Pinnacle) and the Sugar Wreck. Tokong Laut is a pointed rock protruding from the seabed, surrounded by all kinds of coral and home to numerous species of reef fish and other marine life. The Sugar Wreck is an eerie-looking sunken freight ship that lies at around 15-22m.
Marine life is in abundance here and apart from the many species of hard and soft coral that form the backbone of these ecosystems you can also expect to encounter turtles, several species of sharks, mackerel, jacks, moray eels, nudibranchs and various other reef fish.
There are numerous dive operators on both islands and there is hardly a beach that does not have at least two options for you to choose from for recreational dives or certification. Ensure that your dive centre is environmentally friendly and takes safety practices seriously.
If you enjoy exploring the underwater world, do your part to protect it. The golden rule, apart from never holding your breath, is to take only photographs and leave only bubbles! Below are some guidelines that every responsible diver must follow.
Choose a dive operator that respects the environment and actively contributes to conservation efforts in the area.
Never touch or step on coral. The slightest touch can harm them and some may hurt you.
Prevent accidental contact with the reef or kicking up sediment by keeping a safe distance and practicing good fin and body control.
Do not collect any “souvenirs” – living or dead - underwater, but do pick up recent rubbish
Do not touch, chase, try to ride or otherwise harass any marine life. Feed and handle marine life only under expert guidance.
Ensure that your dive boat does not anchor on the reef and make sure that all rubbish (especially light plastics) is carefully stowed away.
Tropical forest covers the greater part of the Perhentian Islands and a few trails that twist through the greenery allow you to explore the diversity of plant life. Tread quietly and you may just meet a few of the islands’ animals along the way. Monitor lizards are in abundance, as are numerous species of insects and birds. If you are lucky, you may even spot a group of long-tailed macaques (a type of monkey). The elusive mousedeer is also said to inhabit the island, but these tiny animals are rarely seen.
Remember to bring insect repellent and plenty of drinking water.
Perhentian Island Resort
Perhentian Island Resort is an ideal beach resort for a leisurely family vacation in Malaysia. Surrounded by lush greenery, facing white sandy beaches and a warm blue sea, Perhentian Island is a holiday paradise not to be missed.
Perhentian Island, or Pulau Perhentian as the locals call it, is well known as a marine paradise and forms a parts of the National Marine Park of Malaysia.
In the surrounding areas of Perhentian Island Resort, you will find many things to see and do. Take a jungle trek up the hills under a canopy of large trees, and you might see wild magpies, giant fruit bats or the Nicobar pigeon. Perhentian Island lies along the flight path of this migratory bird. You might also see the harmless monitor lizard or even a mousedeer or two.
The nearest jungle trail is just a hundred metres from the Resort.
turtle at Perhentian Island
Or gather your family and head to the inviting sea for a swim. For those who enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving, the Resort is strategically located, fronting a coral-rich bay. The marine ecosystem of this area is well documented and held in high regard by snorkellers and scuba divers.
If you come between June and late August, you might even see giant green turtles laying eggs along the beach, at about a 20 minutes boat ride.
Enjoy your next family holiday at this Beach Resort, where reality is like a dream.
CONSULTANT SERVICES FOR TOURIST/RESOURCE:
MyOutdoor.com is your travel consultant dedicated to making your travel experience easy and carefree.
The attractive and easy-to-use website, www.myOutdoor.com, has been created as your gateway to The Islands of Malaysia. We offer quality vacations to most of the tropical islands of Malaysia. We are a licensed tour operator certified by the Ministry of Tourism in Malaysia.
For reservations or inquiries please contact us via email or fax and we will reply to you promptly.