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Perhentian Islands

N 554.626', E 10244.298'
2013-03-30
Our rating: 7.60
Overall rating:

When traveling to Malaysia, we had to choose an island for a little rest. In Western Malaysia (Malay Peninsula) the tourists have the following options:

Langkawi - Well-developed infrastructure, airport, towns, and lots of tourists. The water and beaches are not very good according to reviews.
Penang - Same as Langkawi.
Tioman - Small airport, no towns, nice beach, few tourists.
Perhentian - No airport, no towns, nice beach, pretty hard to get there.

We had a choice between Tioman and the Perhentian islands, and chose the last ones as this place was difficult to reach, which meant not many tourists. The best time for travelling to the islands is from March to October on weekdays, as on weekends a lot of locals come there for a rest. Take cash, there's no ATMs on the islands, and credit cards are not accepted everywhere.

At first you should find out how to get there. The best way is to fly to Kota Bharu. Three airlines fly there: AirAsia, Firefly, and Malaysia Airlines. We flew from Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia. Two return tickets, baggage, selected seat, and shuttle bus in Kuala Lumpur cost us $236.

In the arrivals area of ​​the Kota Bharu airport there's a rack where you can buy taxi and boat tickets to the Perhentian islands. You buy a one-way taxi ticket (MYR 78 or $24 per car) and a return boat ticket (140 MYR or $42 for two people). For taxi back you need to pay additionally.

In about an hour the taxi will bring you to a small office on the beach in Kuala Besut. You should pay a small fee for entry to the reserve ($ 1.5). Tell your hotel name there and they'll tell you the departure time of your boat. Theoretically boats run on time, several times a day, but most likely they start when there's a sufficient number of passengers. The speed boats are very fast, it'll take you 40 minutes to get to the islands.

If you drive a car, then go to Kuala Besut, leave the car in the parking lot ($2 per day) and go to the boats. You can still come by the KTM train from Kuala Lumpur and even from Singapore (schedule). You need to go to the Tanah Merah station and then take a taxi to Kuala Besut Jetty.

There are two islands, Kecil and Besar. The smaller one, Kecil, is cheaper with more people, whereas the larger one, Besar, is more expensive and thus less visited. There are neither towns nor villages on the islands, only hotels. We had originally planned to go to the big island and chose the best hotel there, Perhentian Island Resort or just PIR (booking.com). We booked an inexpensive room in the bungalow 100 meters from the sea for $75 per day. There's air conditioning, 24-hour electricity (in other hotels it may not be all the day) and free Internet access at the reception and in the restaurant. Some bungalows, which are not far from the reception, also have WiFi access.

Bungalow at the PIR hotel
Bungalow at the PIR hotel Yuriy Buriak

However, there are more expensive bungalows close to the sea for about $200. Prices in inexpensive hotels on both islands start from $15 per room, an average price is about $30-50. Here's a map with all hotels.

Map of the Perhentian Islands
Map of the Perhentian Islands @

There's no cafe near the PIR hotel, you can only eat in the hotel restaurant. The buffet costs about $12 per person. But you can walk along the shore towards the Coral View hotel and further (about 1 km), and find several restaurants and cafes that are cheaper. There are not many small cafes and restaurants on the islands; many hotels offer food only on the all-inclusive basis.

We spent two full days on the islands and found what to do:
 - snorkeling
 - beach
 - trekking through the jungle
 - animal/fish watching

The main transportation here is a water taxi. Prices are about $3-4 if you want to visit another beach and $5-7 - to another island.

We must say that there's an excellent beach near the PIR.

Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak

Right beside the PIR hotel there's a home of giant tortoises. We swam there for a few hours, it was exciting.

The snorkeling tours are quite popular, we took one to the Rawa Island ($12 per person). However, it's possible to agree on an individual tour to any places. Some of the places are marked on the map below. Turtle Point is the beach at the PIR. Turtle Beach and Blue Lagoon (about 1.5 km from the PIR) can be reached by either a water taxi or a rented kayak ($12 per day).

Map of snorkeling spots at the Perhentian Islands
Map of snorkeling spots at the Perhentian Islands @

During our tour we saw a lot of fish, but the main goal were small sharks and parrot fish. We didn't find the sharks but found the parrot fish.

Snorkeling tour to the Rawa Island
Snorkeling tour to the Rawa Island Yuriy Buriak
There are several hiking trails on the islands. See the map below, we walked several times on the trail which starts at the PIR (#13 on the map).

Hiking trails on the Perhentian Islands
Hiking trails on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak

And on the next map someone was walking along the beaches, but this map is better and you can find additional trails on it. Note that the trails are the only way to move across the islands, so it's important to know where they are.

Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands @

We were very satisfied with the walks in the jungle. Once we went specifically to search for animals, reached the highest point on the trail and stopped there. In 10 minutes we heard rustling in the tree and saw a gibbon! Besides, we saw some other smaller animals. Be sure to return before sunset, as it's very dark in the jungle, and pythons live there :)

Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak

The islands are the great place to observe the animals. Even if you don't go into the jungle, you can see them right next to your bungalow.

Flying squirrel on the Perhentian Islands
Flying squirrel on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


Water monitor lizard on the Perhentian Islands
Water monitor lizard on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


Grasshopper on the Perhentian Islands
Grasshopper on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


Small animals on the Perhentian Islands
Small animals on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak
Boats to Kuala Besut leave at 8 am, 12 pm, and 4 pm. Some delays are possible, so consider this if you need to get to the airport in time. Sign up for the boat in advance at the reception of the hotel.

More photos of the islands

Sunset at the PIR hotel beach on the Perhentian Islands
Sunset at the PIR hotel beach on the Perhentian Islands Yuriy Buriak


The PIR hotel and some others have their own piers.
The PIR hotel and some others have their own piers. Yuriy Buriak


View of the beach of the Coral View hotel
View of the beach of the Coral View hotel Yuriy Buriak


Beach of the PIR hotel
Beach of the PIR hotel Yuriy Buriak

Getting there: Described earlier in this article.

Tags, Malaysia: animals, beach, island

Tags, all countries: animals, beach, island
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