The Perhentian islands are my second destination in Malaysia, a destination that I added to my route after being referred by a Malay friend I made on one of these trips to Southeast Asia. I’m going from Kuala Lumpur to Perhentian Islands.
I decided to follow her advice, despite having other islands in mind, and I didn’t regret it. The islands are not really cheap for backpackers, especially as there are no hostels or at least enough ones. You should book your stay in advance or you risk not having an available place to stay at normal prices, as they may raise a lot.
I went to Perhentian islands from Kuala Lumpur by bus. I bought the ticket at the Bus station TBS and reached this place by train, the brown line. I booked an overnight bus that will reach Kuala Besut around 6 am the next day. Kuala Besut is the place where you will get the boat to Perhentian Islands. What I wasn’t expecting in this journey was the number of cockroaches on the bus. These ones were smaller than I am used to but still very unpleasant as they were crawling everywhere, even on the window. As I needed to sleep with my face on the window to get comfy, I had some roaches crawling up my face and waking me up. It’s gross I know, but somehow I managed to sleep and forget about the presence of these inconvenient partners.
Kuala Besut bus station is nearby the Jeti, but at 6 am is very dark in Malaysia and I don’t want to walk alone for 15 minutes in that empty place. There are some taxis at the bus station, not many, but enough. There was a man trying to sell boat tickets right there and if you do that the taxi will be free. I haven’t read anything about this, so I didn’t trust him, maybe he could sell me fake tickets so I didn’t accept his proposal and pay a taxi by myself that for a 5 minutes drive is not cheap.
The Perhentian Islands consists of two islands: one larger and one smaller. I stayed in the largest, called Perhentian Besar. There are several different points on the island where you can stay, so I wasn’t sure what was going on in this area where I was staying until I got there. I stayed in Flora Bay which is not the most touristy part of the islands at all, thankfully. I really didn’t know where to stay, and the cheapest accommodation was here, so I booked it. There isn’t much going on here, so if you prefer a place with more people you should stay around Tuna Bay or PIR beach (on maps.me). I must confess that I was very happy with Flora Bay, first of all, there are almost no one here, even fewer foreigners, and second, it was the most beautiful of the three places I mentioned before. If you want to chill and a beach for yourself, this is the place. Because of the tide, the boat to Flora Bay departs later than the other ones, so I stayed at the Jeti waiting for it. You have to show the lady at the ticket counter, that is a table, where you will stay and she will call the accommodation and confirm. There were a few more tourists there waiting for the boat to Perhentian Islands, but they all departed on the first boat, so I was getting a little stressed to be the only one there and was thinking that maybe the place I booked wasn’t a good one.
Yeah, but the fewer tourists the better, and actually during my 3 nights here I think I might have seen 5 Westerners.
What a paradise I found here! Besides being calm, because most foreign tourists are in other parts of the island when the tide is low, this is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, with a magical blue tone worthy of dreams. The beach has many dead corals, but they make the view of the sea breathtaking, as they give different shades to the crystal clear blue water, with darker spots that denounce them. In some spots, you can’t even walk in the water without shoes due to the number of corals that hurt when step. It is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen, even better than in Thailand.
I was eating all my meals in a restaurant just next to my hotel, and there aren’t many options around anyway. But the food was tasty and not as expensive as I thought it would be. The Hotel is just next to the beach, so every day I have a wonderful view while enjoying my meals. There are also, maybe 3 places, where you can book tours to snorkel or go to the most interesting spots around.
A snorkeling paradise
There are several points of interest on the Perhentian Islands for snorkeling and diving. They are very good islands for diving because the marine life here is very diverse.
I booked a tour where we stopped to snorkel in different places like Shark Bay, Turtle Bay, and the Fish Garden, places that gave me the best snorkeling experience ever. I’ve been to Thailand for snorkeling, but this was undoubtedly the best. In addition to seeing a shark and sea turtle on the high seas, I also saw dozens of colorful fish and corals in underwater mountains full of life. I had never seen so many corals like this. It was unforgettable and wonderful to swim with such stunning friends. Of course, I loved it!! The tours start early morning and end up around lunchtime, so the rest of the day I just laid at the beach alone.
The only thing that I must confess bothered me was the fact that everyone here is dressed from head to toe. No tourists, so I went on the tour only with Malay people that due to religion don’t show any skin. I confess that it was uncomfortable for me, cause I was the only person wearing a bikini and everyone was looking. People were friendly anyway, but next time I would do this with shorts.