Island Holiday in Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian
This is the second hub on islands around Peninsular Malaysia. The first hub is on Pulau Langkawi. I have also completed
Now, this time we will be visiting – Pulau Perhentian. “Pulau” means island in the Malay language.
“Pulau Perhentian” means stopping point island. In olden days, Pulau Perhentian served as a stopping point for traders between Bangkok and Malaysia. During the British colonial period in Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian can be found on many maps of the nineteenth and twentieth century as “The Station Islands”. Local version of the name’s origin is that for ages fishermen from mainland states of Kelantan and Terengganu relied on Pulau Perhentian as stopping point to rest and for shelter during storm. Located on the north eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian has two main islands, namely Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. “Besar” means big and “Kecil” means small. There are few other smaller uninhabited islands off Perhentian Kecil. This group of islands is under the care of PulauRedangNationalMarinePark, meaning that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited. Pulau Perhentian is located in the South China Sea, 21 kilometer from the coast of Kuala Besut, Terengganu and 64 kilometer south of Thailand’s border.
Attractions in Pulau Perhentian
Covered by virgin jungle, windswept palms, powdery white beaches and surrounded by sapphire blue waters and reef, Pulau Perhentian’s beauty is mesmerizing. Rated as some of the most beautiful islands in the world, this is a perfect spot for snorkeling and diving. Those who just want to relax, you can enjoy sunbathing with postcard view in front of you. Arrangements can also be made for island cruises, and boats can be hired to go exploring for private bays and secluded coves. Water sports available are windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, sea kayaking and deep sea fishing (permit required for this).
To be frank upfront, these islands offer no luxury. There is no 5 star hotel here and most accommodation here are basic and cheap (backpackers style). Some tourists prefer camping and just pay for the use of bathroom. I have known backpackers that stayed in Perhentian for months (maybe entire summer holidays). It’s back to nature here, I guess. And I dare say - what Perhentian lacks in luxury, it pays in beauty.
Top 3 Activities in Pulau Perhentian
The group of small rocky islets to the northwest of Pulau Perhentian Kecil is a great spot for diving. The tiny islets have irregular patches of stunted soft tree corals in many colours. Deeper down, you can explore the wonders of king-size barrel sponges with Alabaster Sea Cucumbers. Harp and black corals are common in this area.
Arguably the best dive site in Perhentian is “Tokong Laut” (means Temple of the Sea). Tokong Laut lies out in the sea in the northwest of Perhentian Kecil. It is a rocky pinnacle covered with soft and hard vivid corals. Bamboo and Nurse Sharks can be seen here. Schools of mackerels and jackfish are common here.
Another popular dive site is Terumbu Tiga (means Three Brothers). Terumbu Tiga lies on the east of PerhentianBesarIsland. It’s a jumble of large rocks with many swim through. It boasts some large coral formations, barrel sponges, soft whip corals and gorgonian fans. Schools of mackerels and herrings can be seen here.
The islands are designated as a marine park area and snorkeling is safe for both young and old. The best spot for family snorkeling would be the south west of the island. The water is shallow and there is no chalet around this area, so the corals are more abundant and colorful. The best beach on the islands is Teluk Pauh, a beautiful half moon bay with white powdery sand and water as clear as crystal. There are good coral around the points on both sides. Here you can snorkel with some turtles, black tip reef sharks and hundreds of reef fish. There are many snorkeling sites around these islands. Different snorkeling locations offer different sights and experience. Try them all.
Both islands (Besar and Kecil) have a good network of jungle trails over the hill, where one can experience hundreds of species of fauna and flora. In these rocky virgin jungles you may chance upon monitor lizards, deers, monkeys, geckos, flying squirrels, butterflies and many more. There are no roads on these islands, just treks. So, these islands are mainly peaceful and untouched. Not to worry though as all the treks are clearly marked.
Back to basics… walking. There is no road on these islands. Wheels are of no use here. Your two feet is a priced commodity here. To hop from one beach to another you will need water taxis. There are many walking tracks that connect the beaches as an alternative to water taxis but some of them are quite challenging. If you have children with you, it’s best to pay and use the service of a water taxi.
Click here for Map of Perhentian.
By Sea – the only way to Perhentian is by boat from Kuala Besut, a mainland town in Terengganu.
By Air conditioned ferry service – take about 45 minutes; comfort.
By Speed boat – takes about 40 minutes; ride usually bumpy, wet and exciting.
By Slow boat – takes about 90 minutes; cheaper.
Pulau Perhentian is home to a turtle nesting population. The island is home to hundreds of nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles. Hence, the best activity after dinner / supper is turtle watching. The nesting season is usually from June to late August. The turtles will normally land to nest between midnight and dawn. Make arrangement with the reception to give you a wake up call if the turtles are spotted on the beach. This rare opportunity is not to be missed.
Turtle volunteering work on Perhentian Island, Malaysia – click here.
Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, volunteer work or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you!
Things to note before coming
Make sure you have enough local currency cash (RM as in Ringgit Malaysia). There is no bank on Pulau Perhentian. Although some of the resorts and chalets accept credit card, you will be charged the additional 3% to 6% to cover their bank charges. You can also change your money with some of the resort or dive shop, but with poor rates.
Avoid the eastern monsoon season (November to end February). You can expect rain and rough seas and most resorts are typically closed during this period. It is not advisable to visit during this period. Peak season is between July and August and prices rise accordingly.
For more information on Pulau Perhentian travel, click here.
Visitors that have been here call it… Perhentian Paradise. Click here to read more.
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Holiday in Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian
Holiday in Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian
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