The Perhentians are two islands on the northeast coast of Malaysia, not too far from the Thai border. The names of them are Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pular Perhentian Kecil and they are a good option to do a beach at relatively cheap prices. The time of year to visit them goes from mid-February to the end of October. The rest of the year is rainy season and most of the accommodations are closed. In our case we visited them the third week of February, so the season had just started and there were few tourists.
How to get to the Perhentian Islands
Snorkelling in Pulau Perhentian Besar
After visiting Penang, we took a flight on a Firefly ATR72 turboprop to go to Kota Bharu, on the east coast of Malaysia. The flight lasted approximately an hour and upon arrival we took a taxi from the airport to reach the port of Kuala Besut (just over an hour). From what we found out, you can get there by bus but for a matter of time we opted for the most comfortable version.
Already in Kuala Besut, we take a speedboat to the Perhentian Islands, which leave quite frequently (we will have waited about 45 minutes). The boat stops first in Perhentian Kecil and then in Besar according to the accommodation that tourists have reserved.
Brain coral in Perhentian
We stayed four nights at the Suhaila Palace, a comfortable and rustic accommodation on the west beach of Perhentian Besar ($ 135 for the 4 nights). The place has a store where you can buy souvenirs, mosquito repellents or drinks. Right next to it there is a restaurant on a wooden platform on the beach where you can eat for very reasonable prices. On the other side, 30 meters away is Universal Divers, with whom I was doing several dives during those days. Something also to mention is that on the beaches near the Suhaila Palace you can do very good snorkeling with corals in excellent condition.
Scuba Diving in Perhentian Islands
Maritim wreck, Perhentian islands
Maritim wreck, Perhentian islands
In total I did 4 dives with Universal Divers in D´Lagoon, Tokong Laut, Shark Point and Maritim Wreck. The latter is a new shipwreck, purposely sunk in 2014 so it is still being colonized by local wildlife. At the time of year, visibility turned from fair to poor, at times reaching 5 meters with a temperature of 27ºC.
I was able to see some green turtles, some bump-head and adult brown banded bamboo shark sharks, all of which are light brown without the juvenile brown stripes. While they were not amazing dives, they were ok. I also had a great time with the people at Unversal Divers, especially with Alvaro and Ali.
Hanging around the Perhentian
On both islands there are paths to walk between beaches, although they are not always very clear. In Perhentian Besar we went to Coral View, which is a very nice beach. One day we crossed we hired a boat to Kecil, visited the locals’ town and tried to head north to Long Beach, only to find that the road was littered with trash. It is ugly to find such a contrast in a heavenly place. We turned around and ended up spending the day on a beach in the south of the island. Another day we also went snorkeling to see turtles with some Argentines who happened to be stopping at the same place (Luciana and Emiliano, if we are a plague!) And Gianfranco, an Italian who travels 10 months a year around the world without speaking a single english word.
How to return from the Perhentian Islands
To return to Kuala Besut, we warned the people of the Suhaila Palace that the next day we would be leaving and they reserved us a place on the first speedboat at 7am and a taxi from the port to the Kota Bahru airport where our flight left at noon .