Perhentian island is absolutely beautiful. The white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and amazing aquatic life makes it difficult to leave the island. Unlike other beaches around Southeast Asia, there isn’t much activities to do, like water sports, but that’s what makes Perhentian so untouched and beautiful. The beach is clean, the water isn’t polluted with oil from the boats, the locals are all really friendly too. The only thing is that it could get a little expensive as compared to the mainland or other parts of Malaysia! I spent a week on Perhentian Kecil (the small island) to get my Open Water licence and after that it was the plain beach whale life for me.
Some tips to know beforehand:
1. Pack food with you
Prices of food, water and booze are all pretty much marked up since it’s an island, and everything is set at the same price range. Whether you buy water at a restaurant or grocery store, it will still cost you 4RM. I brought some extra bottles of water, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread and some apples to make myself quick lunches to save some money
2. The early bird gets the worm
Look for accommodation the moment you get on the island. Some places are impossible to book in advanced since their don’t take bookings, while others don’t have a website. Try to take the morning ferry in to avoid everything getting booked out by noon. Check out times are usually at 11am so it’d be perfect to arrive just an hour before that.
3. If you’re taking your PADI licence, take the dive packages instead
Dive packages that include accommodations are cheaper because you get the room prices at a discounted rate, and these are often good rooms. I got my dive package with Lazy Buoy Divers, and my accommodation was in a nice big room at Panorama Chalets.
4. Bring enough money, set a budget higher than you’d expect
There are no ATMs on the island, and the exchange rate is practically daylight robbery. You can do cashbacks at 3% or 5% at certain guesthouses/cafes/dive shops but it’s best to just bring extra so you don’t end up having to worry about how long you get to stay on the island. Because I was running out of money I had to stay in a shithole just so I could save money and let me tell you, it was NOT worth it. Good experience for the first couple of days but after that all I really wanted to do was to be out of the room all the time. I even resorted to sleeping on the beach because the power shuts off at 8am. The last straw was when the storm hit the island one night and I woke up with a wet face and 5 holes dripping with water from the ceiling.
5. What you pay is what you get
I was travelling alone and most of the rooms were to fit two people. Unless you’re staying in dorms that cost about 25RM, a room is going to set you back about 50RM to 70RM, or more than 100RM if you want something nicer. The rooms that cost 35RM to 40RM WILL leak when it rains, and there will be a chance of finding frogs in your bags.
My really nice queen sized bed with proper mosquito net and attached bathroom. This was the room given with my dive package, and it felt like heaven while it lasted…
And then I had to move here. I liked it for a while I have to admit it was back to basics. Very rustic, very simple. But the toilets was complete shit. And the lack of power from 8am to 6pm was just… a disaster.
Most of the graffiti on the walls have complains about the toilet LOL.
- There’s amazing pasta at THE place that everyone seems to eat dinner at. That will cost about 10RM
- If you’re hungry late at night after drinking, there are burger joints that sell 5RM beef Ramly burgers. The one that always seemed crowded was Adam’s Burger towards the far left of the beach, and they serve up a good hot burger with cheese and onions. YUM!
- Kak Yah Cafe, located right outside Ooh La La is a local store selling cheap rotis and nasi goreng. They’re only opened for breakfast and lunch and possibly has the cheapest food on Long Beach, with rotis priced at 2RM.
- Chillout cafe : everyone raves about the Rotis here, it could just be the best place to have them on Long Beach. The local dishes are pretty yum too!
- Mama’s Cafe on Coral Bay serves amazing BBQ fish/lobster/chicken set including rice, potatoes, banana cake for only RM22
- Shisha by the beach bar with nightly fire shows, has a great vibe and live music playing near the bar
- Nightly campfires at the beach bar outside of Panorama Chalets, they serve up a nice mojito and sex on the beach if you feel like you want to lay down on some beach mats and relax by the fire
- Monkey Cafe was my favourite hangout spot though, there’s live music and I was there every night with really great company!
My main objective, if you’ve read the entry on my “end of the year goal” is that I wanted to get a dive licence. So I did visit Perhentian Islands with the intention of getting a Open Water dive licence. I did that for the first 3 days that I was on the island and it was tough having to read through books and study, rise and sleep early on a daily basis but I’m ever so glad it was done ! I also had an amazing experience with my instructor and the people who all worked at the dive shop.
I got my packaged with Lazy Buoy Divers. Perhentian is not only one of the cheapest places to get a dive licence, it also has beautiful aquatic life and gorgeous dive sites. So I have to go back again next time!
Price range: Fun dives cost about 70RM- 90RM and packages start at 990RM. Other dive companies to also check out are Panorama divers & Turtle Bay Divers.
Selfie with our instructor, Frankie!
The underwater realm is indeed a whole different world. No pictures can do justice but it was possibly one of the most liberating moments in my life, taking my first breath underwater and struggling so much with buoyancy. But it gets better with practice, I hope !
Long Beach to Coral Bay
A 10-15 min walk through the forest with a well paved road will take you from Long Beach to Coral Bay. At night it’s poorly lit so make sure you have a torch or your phone light with you. Girls are not advised to walk through there late at night alone. Why go to Coral Bay?
Firstly, Coral Bay is amazing for sunsets!
Secondly, there’s a nice spot to chill out on a late afternoon or early morning. That is the floating platform near Senja resort on the far end of the beach
I also made a new friend there and found out we both have matching compass tattoos! What are the odds 😮
Third, snorkeling! Take a walk over through Sharila resort and you’ll find a small obscure beach that doesn’t seem to be very crowded. That beach is called Romantic Beach.
With Karolin & Emma
Rent a snorkel mask and swim towards the jetty, there are lots of fishes to see! We even spotted a HUGE bump head parrot fish that scared the hell out of us 😮 Also beware of small trigger fishes near the shore!
How to get there:
1. Bus to Jertih, bus/taxi from Jertih to Kuala Besut, ferry to Perhentians
2. Bus/flight to KL, bus to Kuala Besut, ferry to Perhentians
Bus to Kuala Besut from Hentian Putra (near Putra WTC), ferry to Perhentians
Beautiful sunrise at Kuala Besut jetty
Tickets cost 35RM one way and 70RM return. + 5RM conservation fee
It says on the ticket that you need to book the boat one day before, but you can just show up on the day of your departure and take one of those taxi boats (2RM) to your designated boat companies.