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Perhentian Islands - Favourite Holiday Place with Beautiful Beach in Malaysia

Updated on January 25, 2012


Perhentian Islands have been rated as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Located in the South China Sea about 25km off the coast of Kuala Besut, a small fisherman village in the Terengganu state of Malaysia, it is a virtual paradise for snorkelling and diving. It consists of two islands, Perhentian Besar island and Perhentian Kecil island. The name “Perhentian” is a Malaysian word meaning “Stopover”, “Besar” means “big”, while “Kecil” means “small”.

Both the big and small islands are surrounded by rows of swaying coconut trees, white and soft sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise-blue sea. A trip to this lush and exotic tropical island is a mesmerizing experience for nature lovers, especially for those who enjoy swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, deep sea fishing, wind-surfing, sailing, boating or canoeing.

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crystal clear sea watercrystal clear sea watercorals
crystal clear sea water
crystal clear sea water
crystal clear sea water
crystal clear sea water

Corals are still quite well preserved around these islands. You can see beautiful corals and colourful fishes within walking distance from your chalet, under a few feet deep of crystal clear water on the beach. As you go a few meters further out from the beach, at about 4 feet water depth, you can see a wide-spread of corals, large school of colourful fishes coming in abundance within your hand reach. Some small fishes like to scare you with some pinch-bites on your hands or legs! If you explore out to the deep sea around the island, various aquatic lives are visible such as turtles, sharks, and thousands of tropical fish.

The island interior is still quite untouched with dense jungle. Jungle trekking is a great way to venture into this tropical jungle to observe various kinds of fauna and flora. A short trek from Pasir Panjang (Long Beach) will take you through a clear trail to Aur Beach on the other side of the island. Here you can still see remnants of what used to be a beautiful plot of virgin jungle. If that’s not enough, you can see monitor lizards, monkeys, geckos, flying squirrels, butterflies and insects right in front of your chalet.

When the sun gets scorching hot in the afternoon, this place is great to laze on the white sandy beaches, having some juices under the coconut trees in the cosy restaurant, and enjoying the cooling breeze. It is certainly a great place to relax the mind and soul.

There is no road on the island. Water taxi or a small motor boat is used to commute from one beach to another beach. However, water, electricity supply and telecommunications are well developed on the islands. Speed boat drivers and hotel staff are often seen on the phone communicating for business purposes, whether they are on the land or in the sea.

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The resort in the island offers snorkelling trips at the cost of RM40 (USD12) per person where they will bring you to 3 snorkelling areas around the two islands. Diving courses are also offered at various levels, and conducted in a few languages such as English and German language.

Western and local cuisines are available in all the hotel restaurants. Barbeque seafood such as fish, crab, prawn and squid are among the favourite with customers. Alcohol used to be freely available but it is getting a little difficult to find nowadays and if you do find it, they are really expensive due to scarcity. So, it is best to bring your own.

To get to this island, you can take 50 minutes flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Kuala Terengganu. On arrival, you have to take 1 hour and 40 minutes taxi north to a small fisherman village called Kuala Besut. At Kuala Besut, you can engage a travel agent for the 30 minutes boat transfer to Perhentian Island at the cost of RM70 (USD22) for return trip. The boat will depart as soon as they have enough passengers. While waiting for the boat trip, you can have a fresh seafood lunch by the sea in this exquisite fisherman village.

The hotels at Perhentian islands are often fully booked, especially during the Malaysian public and school holidays. Therefore, it is advisable to book the hotel in advance to avoid disappointment. The hotel room rate starts from RM100 (USD 33) up to RM300 (USD100) for double occupancy a night. Most of the hotels are village-style chalet, either build on the flat ground or on the hills, with balcony overlooking the breath taking white sandy beach and turquoise-blue sea. The hotels here are not 5 stars rated, but the hotel service is certainly worthy of praise, with humble, friendly and helpful people willing to serve you with a smile at all time.

The best time to go to Perhentian islands is any time between the month of March till October. The resorts are closed from mid-November until late February for the monsoon season, where the sea gets too rough and unsafe for the boat to travel from the mainland to the island.

So, if you are planning for the trip, here is the packing checklist:

  • Clothing - shorts, t-shirts, light dress
  • Swimsuit
  • Snorkelling gear - mask, snorkel, fins, booties, life jacket (or you can rent them from the diving/snorkelling centres : Mask and Snorkel at RM10/day, life jacket at RM5/day)
  • Diving equipment- mask, snorkel, fins, booties, regulator and octopus, BCD, dive table, dive logs, marine life ready reckoner, dive computers, knife, lycra or 3mm skin suits, gloves, underwater torches, dive watch and dive card, waterproof pouches, torch
  • Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturiser, after-tan lotion, shampoo, soap, women's sanitary products, shaving foam and shaver, comb, sun block lotion
  • mosquito repellent (if you intend to go jungle trekking)
  • Travel guide, reading material
  • Binoculars
  • Prescriptive medicine, dietary supplements, motion sickness tablets
  • Some biscuits or instant food

A markerperhentian island -
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
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For foreigners who plan to visit Malaysia, I recommend Lonely Planet Travel Guide which provides rather accurate advice and tips on how to get to there, accommodation, food and destination information.

Nearby Places To Visit


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    • superwags profile image

      superwags 6 years ago from UK

      Great hub Ingenira, I missed out on visiting the Perhentian islands when I was in Malaysia recently - It was the monsoon and everything was apparently closed for the season. I'm determined to go the next time I'm in Malaysia!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Yes, James, the price is good for now, but it may go higher soon.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      A tropical paradise! Thank you for these lovely pictures. The prices are quite reasonable, if you can get there. I enjoyed this journey. :)

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      Now that you mentioned it, suziecat, you make me want to go back to Perhentian Islands to re-experience the place. Unfortunately, it is closed down now for the monsoon season.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      The water is so very blue. Makes me want to put my feet up and sip a pina colada. Great Hub.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      So I have heard, KenWu.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 7 years ago from Malaysia

      Great vacation island. Being to the neighbor island, just not this one; Lang Tengah Island and Redang Island. Redang has become quite commercial right now and the government is planning to make it an exclusive island resort to cater foreigners. So within two or three years, expect to spend more on Redang.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      thanks, Ritchie.

    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 7 years ago

      I love islands and turquoise waters and love to travel and explore new places! These islands certainly look very beautiful and if I'm ever fortunate enough to be able to return to Malaysia then I will check these islands out for sure. Cheers for sharing!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      thanks, epigramman, you are so kind.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ...the only other thing that rivals this 'island paradise' are your world class destination hubs ......

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      A la carte, check the airline, ticket is cheap to Malaysia, and choose a good date, and fly down, and your dream to visit Malaysia will just come true.

    • A la carte profile image

      A la carte 7 years ago from Australia

      I have always wanted to visit Malaysia..and you have made my mouth water:)

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      thanks, Money Glitch, sord87, and Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, no cars, just boats, fantastic what a beautiful place, and great idea for the things to take, I always forget something! cheers nell

    • profile image

      sord87 7 years ago

      A good spot of snorkling!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Oh my goodness, what a beautiful island. :)

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      Yes, it is a beautiful and isolated island, a good place to get away... :)

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 7 years ago from Indonesia

      Ingenira, I'd like to visit there someday, not too far from Indonesia right? thank you for sharing.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      Thanks Betty. :)

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 7 years ago from Texas

      Sounds fabulous, looks beautiful.