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Perhentian Islands

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in perhentian islands

Free Travel guide A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in perhentian islands, Bed and Breakfast!

The Perhentian Islands are a small group of beautiful, coral-fringed islands off the coast of northeastern Malaysia in the state of Terengganu, not far from the Thai border.

South Beach, Perhentian BesarSouth Beach, Perhentian Besar
South Beach, Perhentian Besar

perhentian islands Travel Guide :

Perhentian Islands


The two main islands are Perhentian Besar ("Big Perhentian") and Perhentian Kecil ("Small Perhentian"). Kecil, the more popular of the two, has cheap accommodation and a bit of a backpacker party scene, while Besar is slightly more expensive and caters more to families. The relative difficulty of access and the higher prices compared to Thailand mean that both are still relatively unexplored.

The small, uninhabited islands of Susu Dara, Seringgi and Rawa lie off Kecil. All the islands belong to a protected marine park, which means that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited.

Perhentian Islands

When to go

Due to the eastern monsoon, the season in the Perhentians is effectively limited to the period between April and October. Outside this the seas can be very rough and most accommodations are closed.

Perhentian Islands

Get in

Most people travel to the islands via the provincial capitals Kota Bharu or Kuala Terengganu; see the respective pages for more information. The nearest railway station is Tanah Merah, although most travellers opt for Kota Bharu's better-serviced Wakaf Bahru station instead. All travellers to the islands have to pay a marine park conservation charge of RM5 per person, valid for the length of your stay.

Since the islands have no roads and no airport, getting to the islands themselves will require a ferry, really just a speedboat rigged with two large outboard motors. Expect to get yourself (and your belongings) soaked in seawater, although the exact degree depends considerably on wind conditions and how crazy your captain is. Note that all ferries will take you directly to your destination, wherever it may be on the islands; you may have to pay an extra RM2 or so for the last leg on a taxi boat if the beach has no jetty though. There are two jetties of importance:

Perhentian Islands

via Kuala Besut

The main ferry terminal is at Kuala Besut. From here you have two options: speedboats, which cover the distance in 30 minutes for RM30 one way and depart according to demand (4-5 times a day), and slow boats, which take several hours for the same trip, leave infrequently and irregularly (usually in the early morning), and still charge RM20 or so. However, in the off season slow boats may be your only option.

Perhentian Islands

via Tok Bali

The second, private jetty operated by the private Symphony Tours company is at Tok Bali, several kilometers north of Kuala Besut. While somewhat closer to Kota Bharu, the boat trip itself is longer at 45 minutes and there are only 3 ferries daily; arranging onward transport from here can also be difficult, as there are no public transport options and you're stuck with the taxi mafia who charge a flat RM50 to anywhere. On the positive side, while some guidebooks still note Tok Bali as a "pirate jetty", Symphony is now a licensed operator and the Ministry of the Environment has set up a booth to collect the marine park charge.

Warning: The Symphony folks are in cahoots with the taxis at Kota Bharu airport and will happily sell you tickets via Tok Bali even if you ask for Kuala Besut.

Perhentian Islands

Get around

Other than walking, the only means of transport is water taxis. Prices are negotiable but figure on RM5 per head for most hops from one beach to another, a little more from crossing from one island to another.

"Map of the Perhentian Islands">Map of the Perhentian Islands

Many places on the island are referred to with both their Malay and English names. To make life a little more confusing, the words "beach" (pantai) and "bay" (teluk) are often used near-interchangeably as well, and a few English place names are not literal translations.

Malay English Location
Pasir Panjang Long Beach Kecil, east coast
Teluk Aur Coral Bay Kecil, west coast
Teluk Dalam Flora Bay Besar, south coast
Teluk Keke - Besar, southwestern coast
Teluk Pauh - Besar, northwestern coast
Perhentian Islands

See and do

Activities on the Perhentians are basically limited to scuba diving, snorkeling and sunbathing. Those with excess energy may attempt the jungle trails crisscrossing both islands.

Perhentian Islands

Scuba diving

The tip of the PinnacleThe tip of the Pinnacle
The tip of the Pinnacle

The Perhentians offer excellent diving and draw divers from far and wide. In addition to coral and fish, the Perhentians are home to sea turtles and many species of shark -- none of them dangerous unless provoked though. Visibility is often in the 20 meter range (although it will temporarily go down after storms) and no wet suit is required, although you may wish to use a dive skin for protection from coral and the occasional jellyfish. Popular dive sites include the Pinnacle (aka Tokong Laut, "Temple of the Sea"), a pinnacle jutting out from the sea bed, and the Sugar Wreck, an easily accessible 3500-ton sugar hauler.

Competition for divers is fierce and consequently diving is quite cheap, averaging out to RM60-80 per dive depending on how many dives you do and whether you bring your own gear. All dive shops also arrange introductory dives (no training required) and PADI training.

  • Coral Sky Divers, (tel. 019 910 1963), 1 ( Located on Kecil's Long Beach, this is one of the longer-running scuba (not actual sky diving) outfits with a good reputation. RM150 for an intro dive, RM800 for a 3-day PADI Open Water course.
  • Turtle Bay Divers, (tel. 019 333 6647), 2 ( Another long-running outfit which has shops on both Kecil's Long Beach and the main beach of Besar.
  • Alu Alu Divers, (email:, 3 ( A small, friendly dive center on beautiful island of Besar which offers a personalised and unique diving experience.
Perhentian Islands


All resorts rent out snorkeling gear (typically RM10-15 a day for mask, snorkel and fins) and arrange snorkeling tours around the islands. You can get some cheaper equipment from some local restaurant. Popular snorkeling spots on Besar include Teluk Pauh (to the left of the beach in front of the PI Resort), Shark Point and Tanjung Basi. The best place to see sharks (black tip) is in front of an extremely small "beach", only accessible by boat, between Shark Point and the Teluk Dalam large beach. They are usually seen cruising the bottom of the reef. For turtles, best place is the middle of the beach in front of Perhentian Island Resort, where the sandy bottom is covered with algae.

Perhentian Islands

Jungle trekking

The islands are crisscrossed by small paths connecting one beach to another, but be prepared to sweat and swat off bugs if you tackle any of these.

Perhentian Islands


Many of the smaller resorts only offer meals as part of an all-inclusive package. These are usually buffet-style with a variety of Western and Malaysian dishes. Larger beaches, such as Pasir Panjang, offer a larger variety of eating options. Since everything (except seafood) has to be imported, expect to pay at least 2-3x more than on the mainland.

Perhentian Islands


  • Panorama Restaurant, on the southern side of Pasir Panjang. One of Kecil's more attractive eating options, Panorama offers a larger range than usual of Western and Asian fare at decent prices. No alcohol, but you can bring your own.
Perhentian Islands


  • Watercolours Restaurant, next to the dive shop of the same name on Besar's main western beach. Affiliated with the Paradise Resort, this simple but attractive restaurant is packed every night with people feasting on fresh seafood. Prices have gone up lately but RM25 for 3 BBQ rock lobsters or RM20 for fresh barramundi in banana leaf, served with a giant baked potato and salad, are still a steal by Perhentian standards.
  • Teluk KK, at the southwestern tip of the island near Teluk Keke. This little place is frequented mostly by locals and consequently offers the cheapest grub around, with fried rice and a cup of teh tarik setting you back all of RM3.70.
Perhentian Islands


Pasir Panjang on Kecil is the only place in the islands with any semblance of a nightlife, although Besar's first bar has recently opened up. Alcohol is expensive at RM8 and up for a can of beer, and Muslim-owned restaurants can't sell you any. There is some under-the-counter booze floating around though, and bringing your own is also permitted in most otherwise dry restaurants.

Perhentian Islands


  • Perhentian Cafe, between The Reef and Paradise chalets on the western beach of Besar. This restaurant has undergone a transformation from a no-frills fried noodle joint into Besar's sole nightlife spot, featuring several kinds of beer and the ability to procure more or less anything with advance notice. Latest Update - This cafe is no longer in operation.
Perhentian Islands


There are no luxury accommodations on the islands, with the top of the line being air-conditioned chalets (RM100-200) and the bottom being a bunk in a longhouse (RM10 and up). Discounts are usually negotiable in the off season, for weekdays, for longer stays, if you show up late and they have room... but the better places can get snapped up fast, especially on weekends and holidays, so book in advance (easily arranged in Kuala Besut) or arrive early.

Perhentian Islands


The most popular backpacker destination is Pasir Panjang (Long Beach) on the eastern coast of Kecil, where a bed in a longhouse can go for as little as RM20. More private "chalets" with fan, electricity and bathroom start at RM50.

  • Bubu Long Beach Resort (tel. 03 7805 4380). This is the first and so far only ferroconcrete hotel on the islands, offering air conditioning and other creature comforts at prices starting from RM200.
  • Matahari, at the south end of Kecil's long beach. This is one of many identikit chalet operators, offering you a roof over your head, a mosquito net, a fan and a grotty bathroom for RM35 and up per night.
  • Rock Garden, located on the side of the hill on the southernmost part of the beach. The cheapest place to stay on the island and for good reason. No additional amenites and very poor conditions exist but the price is right and it has a nice view of the incredible beach.
  • D'Lagoon is located in the bay north of Long Beach. Wooden chalets with mosquito nets, and own restaurant. Corals right in the bay but so close you cut yourself in low tide. RM 30 and up per night.
  • Mira Beach is located at the southern end of Kecil. Simple wooden chalets with mosquito nets, and a place to eat. No electricity nor running water, but fresh water available in drums. Advantage: no anoying generators in the background. Nice if you're looking for peace in a quiet place. The only bay on the island worth snorkeling around in. RM20 and up per night.
Perhentian Islands


Due to its popularity Kecil can get a little noisy at times, so to get away from it all, head for Besar. Starting from the northern Teluk Pauh:

  • Perhentian Island Resort (Reservation tel: +603 21444 8530/31/32 or email: ). Offering the best digs on the islands, the Resort is located on Besar's nicest white sandy beach and equipped with the only swimming pool in town. Still, 5-star luxury it isn't, and the list prices of RM250 to RM350 are overpriced especially since some of the older, further-off chalets are downright grotty; take a look at your room first and ask to see a different one if you don't like it. It offers 24 hour electricity and water supply with heater, air-cond with individual climate control and in-room coffee/tea making service.

A 5-minute walk away is Besar's nameless main beach, featuring the following:

  • Coral View Resort at the north end of Besar's main beach. This resort is a close number two, offering much the same facilities as Perhentian Island Resort (minus the pool) in attractively done surroundings at RM150 and up for air-con chalets.
  • The Reef, the first in a series of near-identical no-frills chalets just south of the Coral View on the same beach, followed by Paradise and Mama's. All offer basic non-air-conditioned chalets with basic attached bathrooms in the RM60-80 range.

Crossing over to the next beach is a more challenging 15-minute hike up and down through the jungle, but it will bring you to the southwest beach and:

  • Cozy Chalets at the north end of the beach, you'll walk through this on the trail down. These have been reported abandoned, and not looking very cozy at all.
  • New Cocohut Chalet a bit further south from the Cozy. One of the more attractive options on the south beach, New Cocohut offers air-conditioned chalets starting at RM120, chalets with a fan, and longhouse beds for less.
  • ABC Guesthouse just further south on Besar's south beach. ABC is a barebones longhouse-only operation in a creaky two-story building, which looks like it will soon collapse and join Cozy in the dust pile of history.
  • Tuna Bay Island Resort (tel. 09 6979 779) 4 (, south of ABC. Tuna Bay is one of the newer and classier outfits, offering all air-con chalets at a fairly steep RM160 and up, including hot showers and even safety deposit boxes in every room. The seaside restaurant is also pleasant with excellent food and a small bar.

The final smattering of chalets can be found on the southern Flora Bay (Teluk Dalam), an even steeper hike from the rest of the island (two tracks lead to Tuna Bay and the PI Resort).

Perhentian Islands


Internet cafes can be found on both Kecil and Besar, but connections are slow.

GSM mobile phone coverage for Celcom and Maxis is spotty but generally adequate, especially on Besar.

Perhentian Islands


For all their beauty, the Perhentians remain a bit of an up-and-coming attraction and there are some missing bits in the infrastructure to be aware of:

  • Cr cards are generally not accepted, even at dive shops. However, a number of places will accept them but charge an additional 3%. Coral Sky divers however will accept cr cards with no additional charge. The only place on the islands where you can get a cash advance or exchange money is the Perhentian Island Resort, which charges accordingly.
  • Electricity generators provide most of the electricity on the islands. Power outages are not uncommon and in many cheaper chalets power is only provided at night.
  • Mosquitoes can be a nuisance after it rains. Bring repellent and consider burning a mosquito coil (available locally), especially if your bed does not have a mosquito net.
  • Tap water is generally not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available at a fairly expensive RM 3-5 per 1.5L bottle.
Perhentian Islands


There are concerns that the coral reef will be gone in as little as ten years because of the intensive tourism industry. But as long as you take care and do not pick the living coral you will not be contributing to that directly.

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