The Perhentian Islands (pronounced Perhen-TEE-AHN, not Perhen-SHEN) lie approximately 10 nautical miles (19 km) off the coast of northeastern Malaysia in the state of Terengganu, approximately 40 miles (64 km) south of the Thai border. The name Perhentian means "stopping point" in Malay. This is because the islands became a staging point used by traders traveling from Malaysia to Bangkok.
The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar ("Big Perhentian Island") and Pulau Perhentian Kecil ("Small Perhentian Island"). Kecil attracts more travellers as it has cheaper accommodation, while Besar is a little more expensive and caters more to families and those who want to avoid the backpacker party scene.
The small, uninhabited islands of Susu Dara, Seringgi and Rawa lie off Kecil. All the islands belong to a protected marine park, which means that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited, although in practice litter is one of the major problems that face the islands.
When to go
Due to the eastern monsoon, the season in the Perhentians (and all other east coast islands) is effectively limited to the period between the beginning of March until late October. Outside this period the seas can be very rough and choppy, skies overcast, and with currents that make swimming dangerous and most (though not all) accommodation options are closed. However, many of them located on Coral Beach start on beginning of Feb, while on the Long Beach usually a month later. Do not believe the travel-agents when they claim the accommodations are open. Even if they will provide a room, restaurants and all shops (i.e. no place to get water, food, sunscreen etc.) are closed in off-season. If the restaurant is open, food choices will be very limited and over-priced. However, in the village cheap meals and shops are available year-round.
When going during off-season be aware that there will be no one there aside from you and maybe a handful of locals.
Access to the Perhentian Islands is by ferry from Kuala Besut, which is usually reached from either Kota Bharu, Jerteh or Kuala Terengganu. Foreigners pay RM30 marine fee, locals pay RM5. See the Kuala Besut article for more information.
The cheapest way: From Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR) catch a Cityliner (with AC) to Kota Bharu Bus Terminal at RM1.80. Can wait outside terminal start from 7am. A regular bus  departs from the Kota Bharu Bus Terminal throughout the day for Kuala Besut, dropping you at the ferry terminal, costing RM6. Please allow up to 90 minutes for this service as it is a local bus after all. If you took a train (KeretapiTanahMelayu) 'Kuala Lumpur'-'Tumpat' or 'Johor/Singapore'-Tumpat' it is recommended that you stop at Tanah Merah Station which is the third-last station to Tumpat,this station is the shortest route to Kuala Besut(if you don't want to waste time). There you will find locals who provide transportation (usually car/minivan) for between RM70-80 top (not more than RM90). It is a little bit illegal(only them)but you will find out there is no problem at all, for the record, all of them are really nice and honest persons, (they just want to make a living). They will take you to Kuala Besut in less than 45 minutes. There are no ferries to neighboring islands, but reasonably priced direct transfers to Redang are possible if a day-trip or dive boat has free seats - enquire with travel and dive shops. Ferries had previously run from a jetty at Tok Bali, and for a short time direct from Kota Bharu, but both have now been discontinued.
From the main ferry terminal at Kuala Besut there is effectively one option:
- Speed boats - usually small fiberglass boats with two or three outboards which take 30-45 minutes, charge RM70/person (Beware of unreliable & unlicensed boat operators do the under cut price. They tend not to pick you up during your return trip.) If you arrive at the kota bharu airport AVOID getting your boat tickets at the airport counter as they are expensive and You can get cheaper fares by reserving your return boat ticket in advance from piboat transfer service telephone no +60974796638 or Kuala Besut travel n tour telephone no + 6097479663. They deliver your tickets to your hotels or kota bharu airport on your arrival.PI boat transfer n services do have a special offer for the travellers arriving through the Kota Bharu airport the special package boat transfer n van transfer
Be aware that speed boats operators are not following safety rules and Malaysian law and overloading boats is common. Only advise can be insist on not boarding more passengers than maximum capacity of speedboat (usually max. 12 pax) and call police number 999 and don't forget to make documentation (photos, video). Also avoid travel agencies/operators known for overloading speed boats. In our June 2013 experience with MD Travelers speed boat going to island was carrying 15 passengers instead of 12 and on the way back 21 (twenty one) + baby instead of 12, which was really dangerous and you don't want to be first victim of their irresponsibility. Staff on the boat is also sometimes drunk, don't board boat with them and call police number 999. Complain about overloading at police number 999 and Malaysian ministry of tourism to change this situation or maybe choose different island in Malaysia to spend your vacation without risking your life.
All ferries take their passengers directly to their destination, wherever it may be on the islands. Passengers may be charged an extra RM2 to get a small boat from the ferry to the beach at (Kecil) Long Beach, as there is no jetty. There is a jetty on long beach as of 5/2017. You can ask to be dropped at Coral Bay from where it's an easy 10-15 minutes walk on a nice paved tiled path to Long Beach. If you have suitcases, there is no paved path at Long beach or Coral bay.
All travelers to the islands must pay a marine park conservation charge of RM5 (locals) or RM30 (foreigners). The marine park conversation charge 'ticket' claims to be valid for a few days, but in practice it is never asked for and is valid for the length of their stay. This ticket is paid at the office in the jetty at Kuala Besut, so pay this BEFORE you get on the ferry.
To return from Coral Bay to Kuala Besut, boats leave from the jetty at 8:00, 12:00 and 16:00. There are several boats (from several companies). You should let know at your reception desk one day in advance that you are leaving so they can inform boat operators about required amount of boats.
Aside from walking, the only means of transport are water taxis. Prices are negotiable but figure on RM 12 for most hops from one beach to another, and a little more when crossing from one island to another.
There are many walking tracks that connect the beaches as an alternative to water taxis. On Kecil, Long Beach to Coral Bay is about ten minutes and a very easy walk. To go from Long Beach to D'Lagoon, follow the jungle path that starts behind Bubu resort on the northern part of Long Beach, when you reach the turbines follow the path down behind the turbines (do not go down the stairs!) a further 30 minutes until you reach D'Lagoon. It takes about 1 hour. If you follow the wide dirt track from behind the turbines you will end up at a beach just south of Adam and Eve Beach. You can walk on the rocks from this beach to get to Adam and Eve Beach and then continue to D'Lagoon on a path that starts near the southern end of the beach. Another route from D'Lagoon is to Adam and Eve beach on the west side of the island (25 minutes), be careful when swimming here as there are sometimes thieves waiting in the forest, though they are only interested in cameras and money. Or another one to Turtle Beach also on the west side (10 minutes). On Besar, an easy 30 minute walk starts behind the Arwana resort on the southern bay of Besar and comes out in the Perhentian island resort on the north west bay. The other is a more adventurous 45 minute trek between the camp site (Teluk KK) on the west bay and the west corner of the south bay. If it's damp, mosquitoes can be a menace. Apart from the main tracks on both islands, everywhere else is dense jungle.
Many places on the island are referred to with both their Malay and English names. To make life a little more confusing, the words "beach" (pantai) and "bay" (teluk) are often used near-interchangeably as well, and a few English place names are not literal translations.
|Pasir Panjang||Long Beach||Kecil, east coast|
|Teluk Aur||Coral Bay||Kecil, west coast|
|Teluk Dalam||Deep Bay||Besar, south coast|
|Teluk Keke||KK Bay||Besar, southwestern coast|
|Teluk Pauh||-||Besar, northwestern coast|
There are no monuments, museums, viewpoints or other above-ground sights whatsoever on the islands; however, the beaches are a sight in themselves. White sandy beaches with clear water and flanked by rolling jungle covered hills make the views from the beach spectacular. Coral Bay on the small island is the only beach that provides a sunset, but construction of a new jetty has spoiled most of the view. On Besar, the best and cleanest beaches are on the west side of the island. Here the sea and the beach are beautiful and clear. The south beach on Besar is less inviting and had lots of broken coral, treacherous to bare feet and lots of litter and discarded rubbish (as of May 2012)!
There are several trails that you can take around Kecil island that offer spectacular viewpoints such as the Lighthouse Towers, which you can also climb up and jump off of into the sea.
With luck you might be able spot some of the islands' wildlife, including huge harmless monitor lizards (almost guaranteed - they are not afraid of humans) and monkeys, not to mention nesting turtles at certain times of year. Arguably the Perhentians' best sights of all are underwater, where you're likely to see reef sharks and sea turtles amongst the corals and tropical fish. Kecil island also has a huge population of cats, most of which are kittens that a lot of the locals and expats take care of.
Also for a quick guide, Pulau Perhentian is divided into two main islands which is Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar. Perhentian Kecil offer chalet which is lower in cost compared to Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil is favourite for a backpackers.
Activities on the Perhentians are basically limited to scuba diving, snorkeling, sea-kayaking, sunbathing and turtle conservation volunteering. Those with excess energy may attempt the jungle trails crisscrossing both islands.
The Perhentians offer some great diving and excellent snorkeling. In addition to coral and fish, the Perhentians are home to sea turtles and many species of shark -- none of them dangerous unless provoked. Visibility is usually in the 10-20 meter range (although it will temporarily go down after storms, as well as during the end-of-year monsoon seasons) and no wet suit is required, although you may wish to use a dive skin for protection from coral and the occasional jellyfish. Popular dive sites include the Pinnacle (aka Tokong Laut, "Temple of the Sea"), a pinnacle jutting out from the sea bed, and the Sugar Wreck, an easily accessible 3500-ton sugar hauler. The (more expensive) single-day trip to Redang Island, where the water visibility is considerably better, offers diving a notch above the local options, well worth every dime - but be prepared for a rough ride in a small speedboat.
Competition for divers is fierce and consequently diving is quite cheap, averaging out to RM70-90 per dive depending on how many dives you do and whether you bring your own gear. All dive shops also arrange introductory dives (no training required) and PADI training. If you want to try Diving for the first time, ask your Dive Center where did they do introductory dives and escape the 'jetti' trap.
Take care when choosing your dive center. Look closely at the state of the scuba equipment. Its not only about price, it's also about safety.
There are multiple dive centers on Kecil's Long Beach and Coral Bay (from North to South): Sunlight Divers, Quiver Dive Team, Turtle Bay Divers, Seadragon Divers, Matahari (formerly Coral Sky) Divers, Spice Divers, Steffen Sea Sports and Angel Divers.
- Angel Divers (Coral Bay), (tel. +6010-576 65 64) (email:[email protected])  (French English Spanish Swedish Malay). Small, intimate shop with friendly staff, chillout atmosphere and small dive groups. When you are not diving you can hang out and listen to your favorite music. Price per dive is 75RM (and reduces further with multiple dives). No extra charge if you pay by creditcard! Equipment is mostly quite old and they have limited size options.
- Ombak Divers (Coral Bay).  Part of the very new and expanding Ombak Cafe/Residence. With three dive masters a not too big shop, with friendly, relaxed and knowledgable staff. Modern, almost brand new equipment (rental included in the price) and a nice airconditioned classroom. Price per dive is 80RM (except for Temple of the Sea and T3 85RM), 75RM if you do two dives in a day. They charge 3% extra if you pay by creditcard. Good briefings before and after the dive.
- Quiver Dive Team. (tel. +6012-213-8885)  A PADI 5-star IDC center located in Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil offering all types of dive courses (Bubblemaker, Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Divemaster and Instructor). One of the largest and most established dive schools on the island with a multinational staff speaking Malay, Chinese, English, German, French and Turkish. Fun dives cost RM80 (for students who complete a course RM75). Night dives RM140. A full day dive safari to neighboring Redang island with 3 dives including buffet lunch costs RM380 (minimum 4 divers required). Free WiFi. Air-conditioned classrooms. Payment by credit card possible for an additional charge (RM12 for bills under RM200, 6% for bills above RM200). Credit card cash advances are also possible (10% charge applies). Resort pick-ups available upon request.
- Steffen Sea Sports (Coral Bay), (tel. +6012 6978349) (email:[email protected])  (English, French, German, Malay, Cantonese). Enthusiastic staff, small groups and long dive durations (max. 60 minutes for most dives). A specialty: night dive at Vietnamese Wreck! Free wifi for customers in the evenings. No charge for payment with credit card.
- Sunlight Divers, (tel. +60178603185), (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish). A dive centre which has earned its reputation from having friendly,professional members of staff, well maintained equipment and its frequent eco work. One of the smaller shops on the beach so dive groups are kept small. Located right next to the jetty on Long Beach. 6/25/13- Cannot find website, possibly defunct
- Turtle Bay Divers, (tel. (+6)0193336647, Perhentian Besar/Big Island DiveShop: (+6)096911631),  (English, French, German, Polish, Turkish, Chinese and Malay). Another respectable, long-running outfit (started in 1993) with locations on both islands; a nice chilled-out shop on Perhentian Kecil's Long Beach, and a relaxing shop on Perhentian Besar next to Mamma's Chalet. Currently offering very affordable prices for courses and fun dives and they always have small groups. The staff are very enthusiastic, friendly and always up for a chat.
- Anti Gravity Divers, Coral Bay, . 8.30am - 7pm. Anti Gravity Divers Perhentian is a PADI 5-Star Dive Resort and scuba diving centre located on Coral Bay, Perhentian Kecil. Although they are a fairly new company on Perhentian (2015) they have been operating on Koh Lanta, Thailand as a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort and Aqualung Partner Center since 2009. They offer a 'budget' PADI Open Water Course package with dorm accommodation. RM1,050 for the Budget Open Water Course Package which includes the PADI Open Water Course, 4D/3N fan dorm accommodation and free coffee and tea. RM75 per dive if you do 4-5 dives, and price gets cheaper as you do more.
On the big island (Besar) are a number of dive centres, placed on different beaches:
- Alu Alu Divers, (tel. +60 9 6911 650), (email: [email protected]), . A small, friendly dive center on Perhentian Besar.
- Flora Bay Divers, (email: [email protected]), , . The only PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Instructor Development Centre on Perhentian Besar. Offers courses from Open Water Diver right up to Master Instructor on top of diving & snorkelling trips. IDCs are run by highly rated PADI Course Director Azman Sulaiman.
- Perhentian Island Divers, (email: [email protected]),  is a small and friendly dive centre situated on the same beach as Perhentian Island Resort. It has modern equipment and excellent service. Dive courses and boat diving are always on offer, and the beach diving is great as well. Huge sea turtles can be seen right off the beach.
- 'Watercolours, (email: [email protected]),  is a well managed, small-mid sized centre that can get quite busy. They offer diving in small groups (maximum 4 divers) and excellent information on the marine life. As well as the usual courses and fun diving, they also offer Reef Check Eco-courses and the chance to participate in reef and beach cleans. They also give free presentations on the marine environment and conservation issues.
- 'Pro Divers World, Since April 2013 a PADI 5* Dive Resort
- 'Universal Diver,
- 'Panorama ,
Most resorts and a few restaurants rent out snorkeling gear (typically RM10 a day for mask, snorkel and fins) and arrange snorkeling tours around the islands. Popular snorkeling spots on Besar include Teluk Pauh (to the left of the beach in front of the PI Resort), Shark Point and Tanjung Basi. The best place to see sharks (black tip) is in front of an extremely small "beach", only accessible by boat, between Shark Point and the Teluk Dalam large beach, or the rocks off the Coral View and PI Resort. They are usually seen cruising the bottom of the reef but be careful in low tide, otherwise you could end up swimming right along side them (mostly babies though). For turtles, best place is the middle of the beach in front of Perhentian Island Resort, where the sandy bottom is covered with algae. Price for snorkelling trip from Kecil is RM25-35.
On Pulau Besar, if you are planning to do snorkeling just in front of your chalet, then stay on the northern and east side of the island where the water is clearer then the south side. Of course, the chalet and food is more expensive.
The best spot for family snorkeling would be the south-west of the island. The water is shallow and it is not fronting any chalet so the corals are more abundant and colorful. Between Pulau Besar and Redang, the corals are much better in Pulau Besar.
On Pulau Kecil good snorkeling point are in:
- D'Lagoon (northern end of the island's west coast). The bay in front of the chalet has good snorkeling point on the left (north) of the bay.
- Long beach on the north has quite good coral and offer the possibility to see many tropical fish
- Turtle bay has good snorkeling point and at night you can see turtles nesting. (June 2013)
Turtle Conservation Volunteering
The Perhentian Islands are home to a significant green turtle nesting population. The island was once home to hundreds of nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles but now the islands only receives 300 nestings per year partly due to frequent oil spills from oil production platforms and oil tankers owned by Petronas located not too far away. The Department of Fisheries http://www.dof.gov.my, are running a turtle hatchery on the islands to help readdress the declining turtle populations. Help Our Penyu are complimenting the work done by the Department of Fisheries by protecting two beaches on Perhentian Besar and educating visiting tourists around the islands. [Help Our Penyu http://www.helpourpenyu.com] also run their weekly Turtles Need Trees after-school marine club which is educating the local school children about turtle and marine conservation. If you want to help the turtle conservation efforts whilst visiting the Perhentian islands you can join Help Our Penyu's volunteer program which accepts new volunteers every Monday. As of 8/31/13 - this website no longer works and according to locals on the island the program has been discontinued.
The islands are crisscrossed by small paths connecting one beach to another, but be prepared to sweat and swat off bugs if you tackle any of these. There is a good chance to see big monitor lizards and large spiders between Long Beach and Coral Bay (Kecil), and if you are walking off the main trails, you are likely to spot some wild monkeys if you are lucky.
There is a wide trail (30 mins) between Watercolours Paradise and Arwana on Besar, you can see large termite trails, monitor lizards, big fruit bats and sometimes monkeys.
There is a paved walking trail from Coral Bay to Mira Beach (30 minutes) and on to Impiani beach (20 mins) and to the main fishing village on Kecil (20 mins). This is a great trail to see monitor lizards.
There is a path from Long Beach to the fisherman's village. It was a nice paved path but it has been severely damaged in places so decent footwear is recommended. It takes about an hour and has some steep inclines, so be ready to sweat and take lots of drinking water.
Each island individually can easily be circumnavigated as an easy day trip, and it is possible to do both islands in a day.
Kecil is ~8.5 miles in circumference, and takes ~3 hours of constant easy paddling. There is plenty of opportunity to stop and explore some of the more isolated beaches and snorkel.
Besar, the larger of the two islands, is ~10 miles in circumference.
There are plenty of places to rent kayaks on both islands, including but not limited to:
Maya Guesthouse Ask for RM30 per day.
New nice kayaks which you can rent at Coral Bay, Amelia-cafe cost 30RM per hour or 70RM per day (from morning till 5-6PM).
At Long beach there is few places, but kayaks primary old-fasion. 60-70RM per day.
Many of the smaller resorts only offer meals as part of an all-inclusive package. These are usually buffet-style with a variety of Western and Malaysian dishes. Larger beaches, such as Pasir Panjang, offer a larger variety of eating options. Since everything (except seafood) has to be imported, expect to pay at least 2 to 3 times more than on the mainland. Restaurants on Long Beach (Kecil) are slow to deliver food (30 mins to 1.5 hours) and there are no hawker stalls and only one buffet (breakfast at Bubu's), so ask the waiter first how long the food will take before deciding to eat there. Its worth taking some supply up to the island (like fresh fruit, cookies, cigarettes etc). All stores have the same prices and everything is double as expensive compared to the main island. Water for example is 4 MYR (mainland 1.80)
- Yellow station Cafe, Coral Bay. It's a small, very nice Cafe, directly at the beach. It has only two or three tables in the sand. The service is great, the women, who serves you and also seems to be the owner is very very friendly and lovely. Everyday they have some specials at a white board. And they are very cheap, like RM5 for a meal, BUT the dishes are also very small. So, it's good for a snack. And in my experience - and we tried quiet a couple of restaurants at the beach - the food here is the best at the whole island! Try the beef curry with roti canai (RM 5), it's delicious, skillfully seasoned!(8/2013)
- Shari La, Coral Bay. Great evening buffet (all you can eat) for 25RM with BBQ food (seafood, chicken, kebabs etc). Live music most nights and free drinks. Nice chilled out atmosphere with free wifi too. Food during the day is set menu or similar buffet style food. Fried rice/noodles, 2 pcs sandwich/waffles or beef/chicken burger all from RM8-10 (6/2013) directly on the beach.
- Senja, Coral Bay. Nice restaurant with the best sea views over Coral Bay, cold water refill for 1.5RM (1.5L, 3/2014).
- Maya, Coral Bay. One of the two most popular restaurants in Coral bay, meals with reasonable prices.
- Amelia Cafe, Coral Bay. Simple and popular restaurant in CB with good meals for good prices. Fish chilli sauce with rice (tasty) for RM15 and Beef black pepper with rice (so so) RM15. Great milkshakes for a fair price. Service is rather slow. Decent chicken satay BBQ, served quickly for RM20 (5/2017), the BBQ here is quite popular.
- Mama's kitchen, Coral Bay. Simple and popular restaurant in CB with good meals for good prices - meals from RM7-8 (beef&cheese burger with french fries RM7, vegetable curry with rice RM8), lousy slow service,
- Ewan's Cafe, Coral Bay (path between Coral bay and Long Beach). from 07:30. Set on a huge covered deck, away from the beach. A most enjoyable, popular restaurant off Coral bay, two minutes from pier next to Shari-la resort. Overall good value for money, while cheaper than most competition. Ewan himself is usually found there and is very friendly and up for a conversation. Big breakfast sets (2 toasts, 2 sausages, 2 eggs, fruit and drink for RM10) and also dinner sets available for around RM18, fried rice for RM9, fish with rice RM13 (all prices 6/2013). Surprisingly fast free WiFi.
- Matahari Restaurant, behind the Matahari dive shop and chalets on Long Beach. Cheaper than Panorama, but the meals are smaller and the place is not as swanky. Still a nice joint to have a meal and the staff are friendly. Also screen a movie at 8pm, and you will have a better chance of hearing it here.
- Ombak Cafe, Coral Bay, at the start of the path to Long Beach. You can ask here to fill up your water bottle with filtered water. I wasn't asked to pay for this.
- Arwana Resort, East end of the South beach (jump off airplane in tt corner), . The resort has two restaurants, one serving ala carte, the other as a deli buffet. Prices are quite high, but if you have breakfast/lunch/dinner coupons, the food is ok. Breakfast choice in May is not great, but may get better at the hieght of the season. There is usually a BBQ at dinner times serving fish, squid, chicken, and beef. The place is clean too, just ignore the stagnant swamp behind the resort and the rubbish along the beach.
- Florabay Restaurant, In the middle of Flora bay resort. The restaurant offers good food at good prices. RM8 for a dish of chicken fried rice, and RM11 for fried prawns with mashed potatoes.
- Watercolours Restaurant, next to the dive shop of the same name on Besar's main western beach. Affiliated with the Paradise Resort, this simple but attractive restaurant is packed every night with people feasting on fresh seafood and other items on the menu. Needless to say, the quality of the food is very good. Prices have gone up lately but RM25 for 3 BBQ rock lobsters or RM20 for fresh barramundi in banana leaf, served with a small baked potato and salad, are still a steal by Perhentian standards. Vegetarian food is available upon request.
- Mama's Restaurant, beside Mama's Resort (oddly enough). This is the only other largish restaurant near the north end of Perhentian Besar. Their menu is closer to typical "kampung" (village) fare; however, the nighttime BBQ fish is not to be missed - the portions are far more generous, and the spices are much bolder/fragrant than the rather plain BBQ offerings from Watercolours. As well, it is the more economical of the two restaurants. Try roti canai (local bread) for breakfast and pisang goreng (banana fritters) for dessert. Service is friendly but slow, so expect to wait over half an hour.
- Teluk KK, at the southwestern tip of the island near Teluk Keke. This little place is frequented mostly by locals and serves basic food - don't expect super tasty dishes. 5-6 RM.
- On the way to Teluk Keke is a restaurant that is part of Abdul's Chalet. Cheaper than Mama's and Watercolours, Abdul's has a good deal for their nightly BBQ seafood, 15RM-25RM for your choice of BBQ and plenty of side dishes (you can get as much as you want). Their garlic bread is simple and amazing. Bring a flashlight or a digital camera with a large backscreen because it will be dark by the time you walk back.
Pasir Panjang on Kecil (Long Beach) is the only place in the islands with any semblance of a nightlife, although Besar's first bar has recently opened up. Alcohol is expensive at RM8 and up for a can of beer, and Muslim-owned restaurants can't sell you any. There is some under-the-counter booze floating around though, and bringing your own is also permitted in most otherwise dry restaurants.
Oh La La's, Monkey Bar and Blacktips on Long Beach are the only places where you can get alcohol and hang out, but each have their own chilled out beach vibe. Oh La La's and Monkey bar have sunken or mat seating whereas Blacktips is a tiny shack with beach seating, but that always kicks off as a party late in the night (so if you want to dance, go there.)
On Coral Bay, you can buy Chang Beer and Orangutan after 7:00pm from a vendor with a cooler that is usually set up near Mama Restaurant. Just ask around when you are there. It is no problem to drink the cans with dinner in the few restaurants on Coral Bay.
Beer is expensive in Malaysia for South East Asian standards and here even more so at between 8-10 ringgit a can. Tiger, Carlsberg, Singha and Chang are the only brands readily available. For RM 25 you can get a bottle of Orangutan (325 ml) which is also known as monkey juice,and is the choice drink for backpackers and locals. It's a sweet vanilla rum but only about 25%. Vodka is also available at RN 25-30rm a bottle (325ml). If you have a chance to buy alcohol in either Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu or in Thailand, the extra weight you will carry will make it cheaper for your wallet as alcohol is expensive in this area. If you haven't bought alcohol before you get to Kuala Besut, don't bother stocking up there, as prices are no lower than in the Perhentians.
- Watercolours Restaurant. serves chilled beer.
- New Cocohut. serves chilled beer for 10 ringgit (May 2011).
- Tuna Bay. serves chilled beer. Cost is 10 ringgit (March 2011).
- Jim's Bar, somewhere in the middle of South Beach. Nice beach bar with friendly staff. Serves beers and cocktails. Can of Tiger beer is RM 10.
There is very little luxury accommodation on Kecil, with the top of the line being air-conditioned chalets (RM150-300) and the bottom being a bunk in a longhouse (RM10 and up). Discounts are usually negotiable in the off season (although most resorts are closed), for weekdays, for longer stays, if you show up late and they have room. The better places can get snapped up fast, especially on weekends and holidays, so book in advance or arrive by first boat and do quick research and decide fast. Mosquitoes can be a problem after rain, so bring your own mosquito net if staying in low-end (non-aircon) accommodation.
The most popular backpacker destination is Pasir Panjang (Long Beach) on the eastern coast of Kecil, where a bed in a longhouse can go for as little as RM20. More private "chalets" with fan, electricity and bathroom start at RM50. But be prepared for noise from bars. From north to south:
- Moonlight Chalets, Long Beach. Various types of accommodation including :24 hour Electricity, dorm beds, small wooden chalets(very very simple) with fan and mosquito net to aircon rooms with beautiful views of the sea from the verandah. Food is OK. Wonderful receptionist, Dee Dee who seems to remember everyone's name.. From RM20.
- Bubu Long Beach Resort, ☎ 03 7805 4380, . This is the first ferroconcrete hotel on the islands, offering air-con, hot water and other creature comforts. Great views from the balcony. Excellent restaurant, but pricey compared with the rest of the beach. The resort has its own generator and 24hr electricity. From RM200.
- Oh La La's, Long Beach- next to Turtle Bay Divers, ☎ +6019 331 9624, . Newly opened in 2010, this very clean budget accommodation offers brand new mattresses, good sized private rooms, mosquito nets and fan. Shared bathroom, but they are spacious, clean and open concept (no roof so you feel like your in the jungle!) Really friendly owner and great staff. Have a restaurant and bar as well!. Do not try to sleep without earplugs because of loud disco until late hours every night in the neighbourhood. From RM30-50.
- Panorama Chalet & Restaurant, Middle of Long Beach. Panorama offers a variety of rooms and prices, ranging from a single bed with fan (RM 35) to a family style suite (two double beds, two bathrooms, and aircon - with 2 free dinners per night of stay RM140). Additionally, Panorama is a popular hub for many of those who stay on Long Beach.
- World Cafe, South end of Long Beach (beside Quiver Dive Shop). After renovation it no longer offers budget or dorm rooms. It now has only exclusive rooms with AC - probably the best on Long Beach. Prices are around RM450 a night! The cafe has good food, although a bit pricier than other places on the island, but where the cafe really shines is their excellent coffee and friendly service.
- Symphony Chalet, middle of Long Beach, ☎ 60139755935. checkin: 11am. Place isnt really worth staying. Even just now (03-2017) when the seasson started everything is worn out and should be broken down. No toilet seat, bedbugs and molted wood. The 8 headed staf is lazy and doenst do any extra to repair the building for some maintances. Offers well-worn out wooden beach front huts (few more would see the beach if it weren't for a canopy they built) and larger stone huts for quite cheap. Wooden hut goes for RM40 with bathroom shared by about 10 others, which could use mayor attention from the staff. Electricity is available from 7pm to 7am with outlet, fan, light to be found in all types of accommodation. Mosquito nets are usually provided. As with all the beach accomodation, security is an issue so bring your own padlock. RM40 wooden hut, RM60 stone hut. (5.91918,102.72180)
- Matahari, Long Beach, . This clean simple family run resort has a variety of wooden rooms and bungalows with a mosquito net, a fan and a bathroom set around a beautiful tropical garden. Aircon rooms are also available. Chalets with doublebed, fan and private bathroom for RM85 (3/2017). Try asking for a better price if you stay for at least 3-4 nights. Very good breakfast menu included and a very nice staff. Generator is a bit noisy during the night (no power during daytime) but thats a common issue on the island. There resort also has a dive center and dive/room packages are available From RM30.
- Mohsin Chalet, Blue roof chalets on the hills, south end of Long Beach, ☎ 609 6911363 ([email protected], fax: 609 6911163), . 22 chalets, one dormitory and a restaurant overlooking white sand beaches and a blue lagoon abundant with fish and living coral, and offers a prime location from which to witness the island's stunning sunrise. Restaurants offers buffet at nights, with movies on big-screen projectors and if you're lucky, the Reggae Band from Langkawi comes here to perform from time to time. The restaurant area overlooks the entire beach, and wi-fi Internet is free when you dine at the restaurant. Dorms in peak seasons are expensive and no very clean(40RMR a night in 2013). Wifi available From RM80, Dorm RM40.
- Rock Garden, on the side of the hill on the southernmost part of the beach. Once the cheapest place to stay on the island and for good reason. The old cheap rooms are still available for around RM30 a night (RM40 in 2012 high season), but now you can also choose between a standard room (RM70 - RM120 in 2012 high season) and a deluxe room with AC for RM200. Most rooms come with nice view over the beach. But be warned: the nearby "beach disco" can get quite loud till 3 o'clock in the morning.
- Sunrise Guest House, on middle of long beach, ☎ +60 13 9294225. It is in the middle of long beach at the first floor. No easy to see but clean and price competitive. Has dorms for 25RM a night (2013) and rooms RM60-100.
Coral Bay (Teluk Aur), if you prefer more quiet coast with less bar life, sorted from north to south:
- Shari-la Island Resort, Coral Bay, ☎ +609-6977500, . Air con dorms are 20RM with power outlets, by far the nicest on the islands, not advertised anywhere. Free drinks, free water refill and free wifi for all guests in lobby and very reasonable rent of snorkellig kit for RM5. Other rooms priced from RM140 (6/20113) upwards which include 24 hours electricity, hot shower, satellite TV, aircon and fan in room. RM140.
- Ewan's place, Coral Bay (Two minutes from pier on path (between Shari-la/Ombak) to Long Beach, next to Shari-la resort.). New to 2011, the same owner as Ewan's cafe, Coral Bay. Set under big shady trees, away from the beach. Very clean fan double/twin bungalow from 50-70RM (6/2013) with attached bathroom, free Wifi only in huts closer to restaurant or inside restaurant. Maybe the best value on the west coast. RM65-70.
- Ombak, ""Coral, ☎ +60-96-911021 ([email protected]), . Ombak offers since May 2013 also a dormitory for RM42 (5/2017). The dorm comes with a locker and hard, unstable bunk bed, reasonable bathroom. Rooms from RM100 (real price in high season (7/2013) for fan room RM250). Offers diving (3 hours introductionary dive RM175 - 6/2013) and snorkeling trips RM40 (5/2017) done through the Sunset shop. dorm 42RM, room from 100RM.
- Aur Bay, Coral Bay. 12 fan chalets in worn out condition with attached bathroom, this is a good option for those travelling on a smaller budget. No wi-fi and no electricity from 9am-3pm. August 2013: friendly owner, chalets a bit nicer and cleaner than the other value options for RM65 after bargaining. room from RM30 for a double room with attached bathroom.
- Fatima chalet, Coral Bay, ☎ +60-19418-1924. Rooms from RM50-70 off season. Room was RM60 (5/2017) with dirty bathroom and toilet had no hose, only bucket and scoop, comfortable bed with mosquito net. RM50.
- Amelia Cafe and Chalet, Coral Bay, ☎ +60-19913-0742. . Amelia located at the middle of Coral bay. BBQ with drink and fruit for RM20+. Small rooms with fan priced from RM60 up to RM150 (6/2013) which include 24 hours electricity.
- Maya Guesthouse, Coral Bay, . Reasonable fan rooms with attached bathrooms, garden view from RM60 (RM80 peak season), sea view from RM80 (RM100 peak season). from RM60 off season.
- Senja Bay Resort, Coral Bay, ☎ +60-19280-0801, . Together with Shari-la the most luxurious accommodation on west coast and one of the best on the island. All 50 fan and AC rooms with attached bathroom with hot water and no TV, restaurant with cold water refill (1.5L for RM1.5 for anyone, not only guests). Sea view fan room from RM130-230 in peak season (summer 2013). room from RM130-230.
- Butterfly chalets, Coral Bay, ☎ +60-13956-3082. Eleven very basic chalets with attached bathroom (have low expectations) on the very end of Coral Bay already on rocks from RM50. RM50.
Elsewhere on the island:
- D'Lagoon, (in the bay of the same name, north of Long Beach), ☎ 0199857089, . Wooden chalets with mosquito nets, and own restaurant with reasonable prices. Good food, quiet place with private beach. Coral is right in the bay but so close you cut yourself in low tide. Possible to walk from Long beach (1h), see Get around section. 24h electricity, WiFi available. Tent RM10 (pax), dorm RM20, room with shared/private bathroom RM50-60/RM80, family room RM90-120, tree house RM110. (5.93419,102.72293)
- Mira Beach Chalet, southwestern end of Kecil, ☎ +60 16 647 6406 / +60 19 967 2349 ([email protected]), . checkout: 11.00am. Located on its own quiet beach, a 20 minute stroll down a paved jungle path from the busy beaches. Simple wooden chalets with mosquito nets, and a place to eat. All Rooms with fan and sea view. Rates: Room with shared bath RM50 to RM80, Room with Bathroom Attached RM80 to RM150. Dorm RM40. From RM50. (5.899645,102.715096)
- Green Paradise Camping, Sandy Coral, Perhentian Island, 22300 Besut Terengganu Malaysia (15min walk south from Coral bay till you find the first beach, just go up left then), ☎ +60 11 280 894 23 ([email protected]). checkout: 12.00 midday. Located on its own small beach, a 15 minute stroll down a paved jungle path south from the busy beach Coral Bay. Green Paradise Camping provides places where you can put your tent (all up from 10 sqm). If you have no tent at all, no problem, the provider called 'Lan' rents his own 2 people-tents to campers.If you dont like tents, you can just hang your hammock in the trees, but the roof isnt finished yet so you might get wet. Lan brings cheap food to the camp so you can just order and he will bring nice rice dishes and water. There is always coffee and free hot water. A restaurant down at the beach is also being built. Amazingly the camp has a generator, so you can charge your phones. At night there is light due to the kerosene-lamps. There 2 showers and 2 flushable toilets. All in all a lovely and cheap place. From 10 RM up. (5.902859,102.715978)
Due to its popularity Kecil can get a little noisy at times, so to get away from it all, head for Besar. Starting from the northern Teluk Pauh:
- Perhentian Island Resort, ☎ +603 21444 8530/31/32, . Offering the best digs on the islands, the Resort is located on Besar's nicest white sandy beach and equipped with the first swimming pool in town. Still, 5-star luxury it isn't, and the list prices of RM250 to RM350 are overpriced especially since some of the older, further-off chalets are downright grotty; take a look at your room first and ask to see a different one if you don't like it. It offers 24 hour electricity and water supply with heater, air-con with individual climate control, free wifi and in-room coffee/tea making service.
A 5-minute walk away is Besar's nameless main beach, featuring the following:
- Coral View Resort, at the north end of Besar's main beach, ☎ +60-9-6974943, . Once a close number two to the PI Resort, it's taken some knocks over the years but was spruced up in 2007 and is now again a decent option. Standard rooms are back in the jungle, so it's best to opt for a beachfront room. A/C and fan-only rooms available. The restaurant food is good, although alcohol is not served and you are asked to not bring your own to the restaurant. No TV or kettle in the rooms.
- The Reef. The first in a series of near-identical no-frills chalets just south of the Coral View on the same beach, followed by Paradise Island Resort/Watercolours and Mama's. All offer basic non-air-conditioned chalets with basic attached bathrooms in the RM60-80 range.
- Watercolours Paradise Resort, ([email protected]), . Has clean but mostly basic non air-conditioned chalets (specifically request for one if desired) with attached bathrooms. The Garden View chalets are RM 60 and the Sea View chalets are RM 80. There's not much difference between the two, although the Sea View rooms are bigger and closer to the sea. The standards huts with fan share the same roof so you can hear your neighbours loud and clearly. The staff are very friendly and helpful. The Watercolours Restaurant and Dive Centre is attached to this resort. For those on a budget, this makes a good place to stay. There are no power outlets in the rooms, although they do let you use the restaurant's outlets. NEW: The rooms have all been redecorated for 2009 and now free wifi is available.
- Mama's Place. Mama's Place is run by Aziz, a very friendly and organized person who will go the extra mile to make your stay enjoyable. Bungalows start from RM70 for a clean fan room with private bathroom. Aziz provides snorkeling equipment, arranges transfers and is more than willing to give you advice. The attached restaurant offers basic meals for breakfast and lunch but puts on a great BBQ dinner by the sea.
Crossing over to the next beach is a more challenging 15-minute hike up and down through the jungle, but it will bring you to the southwest beach and:
- New Cocohut Chalet, a bit further south from the Cozy.. One of the options on the south beach, New Cocohut offers air-conditioned chalets starting at RM130, chalets with a fan, and longhouse beds for less. The staff is friendly and helpful. The restaurant offers basic meals and beer at regular prices. However, expect run down toilets in the RM130 rooms with no water heater. The beach in front of Cocohut has some corals which could make it hard to swim at the shallow ends. 5 mins walk to a nicer beach. Cocohut also runs the new Cozy Chalets. Its just next door to Cocohut, a bit uphill and you have to climb stairs to reach to the beach. These chalets offers airco and a good view.
- ABC Guesthouse, just further south on Besar's south beach. ABC is a barebones longhouse-only operation in a creaky two-story building, which looks like it will soon collapse and join Cozy in the dust pile of history.
- Tuna Bay Island Resort, south of ABC, ☎ 09 6979 779, . Tuna Bay is one of the newer and classier outfits, offering air-con chalets at a steep RM290 and up, including hot showers and safety deposit boxes in every room. Make no mistake, however, Tuna Bay is not a 5-star luxury experience. The seaside restaurant is also pleasant with fairly decent food and a small bar.
- Bubbles Resort, at the southern end of the island, . A very quiet and small resort. Located in a beautiful bay you can rent family and air conditioned chalets with bathroom (from around RM150 and up) or cheap fan powered rooms with bathroom from RM50. There is a restaurant and a good dive school, canoes free to use and a volleyball net. Friendly staff. Ideal for families and those who wish to experience the islands` tranquility at its best.
The largest and the quietest beach on the islands, the southern beach has 6 resorts/chalets.
- Arwana Perhentian Resort, East end of the beach, ☎ +(609) 6911888, . checkin: 12:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. Arwana is a family/student oriented resort at the very end of the beach, with reasonable room rates and a large swimming pool. Don't expect luxery or 'deluxe' as the decor is not to everyone's taste and be warned, some rooms are upstairs with no balcony. No kettle in rooms, but each room has a flask and there is free hot water on tap near the beverage counter. Air-conditioned rooms start from RM140, and there are dorms available for large groups at RM30/person. All the air-conditioned rooms have TVs with a few channels on. The staff are very helpful and can arrange your boat transfers if you haven't already. Also offers free WiFi in the main lounge. RM30-580.
- Samudra Resort, Beside Arwana, ☎ 609 691 1677 ([email protected]). Quiet resort with a fan beach (RM60) and garden chalets (RM40-50). No power sockets in the rooms but electricity mostly 24 hours.
- Flora Bay 1 and 2. There are two resorts separated by the Fauna resort offering chalets and rooms at reasonable prices. Nice restaurant and the 2nd pool on Besar.
- Everfresh chalets. It had a lot of chalets and some rooms, but it looked deserted the last time I saw it, although not abandoned.
Internet cafes can be found on both Kecil and Besar. Although some connections are slow and a little expensive (RM 10 for 30 mins) many resorts are now installing satellite broadband. If your main reason to use the internet is to stay in touch with friends and family then another option is getting a prepaid GSM SIM and use your mobile phone. Most modern phones do handle email, just remember to get the appropriate settings from you email provider. Rates are the same for all three operators in Malaysia: 0,01RM/kB.
- Lazy Boy Shop, Long Beach, Kecil
- Gen Mart, Long Beach, Kecil
- Panorama Chalet, Long Beach, Kecil
- Watercolours Paradise Resort , Besar. Offers satellite broadband at RM 10 per 30 mins and now offer a free wireless service for guests with own laptop.
- Coral View Island Resort, Besar
- Tropical Reef, Besar
- Flora Bay Chalet on the southern beach of Besar[]. RM 30 for a three day wireless pass.
- Senja Bay Resort, Kecil (September 2007)
- Mama's Place, Besar (June 2008)
- Cozy Chalets, Besar (Free for guests)
- Tuna Bay, Besar (RM 30 for 30 mins)
GSM mobile phone coverage is available on both islands as all three (Digi, Celcom and Maxis) operators have placed their respective cell towers (huge red and white ones). They look a bit weird coming out of the green jungle. Celcom and Maxis provide UMTS 3G coverage though coverage is more limited than GSM, the best coverage is in the band between the islands (east coast of Kecil and west coast of Besar). There are some points where reception cannot be reached on the more secluded beaches. In particular the whole southern beach on Besar has very poor reception and no 3G reception.
For all their beauty, the Perhentians remain a bit of an up-and-coming attraction and there are some missing bits in the infrastructure to be aware of:
- Credit cards are accepted at few locations. Some will charge an additional 3-6% so ask before buying. Cash advances can be had on Kecil at Bubu Long Beach Resort and Senja Bay Resort on Coral Bay. Both charge a hefty 10% fee.
Money can be changed on Long Beach, but rates are approx. 10% worse than on the mainland. Watercolours on Perhentian Besar will change money with only a small commission. It seems no one will change travellers cheques, so do it before you leave the mainland.
- Electricity generators provide most of the electricity on the islands, though Kecil has installed some solar panels and wind turbines. Power outages are not uncommon. If you need electricity in your room, inquire about the schedule before booking. It seems most places that have outages on Besar are only limited to 3-hour blackouts during the late afternoon (4-7pm, a good time to snorkel or jungle trek).
- Mosquitoes can be a nuisance after it rains. Bring repellent and consider burning a mosquito coil (available locally), especially if your bed does not have a mosquito net.
- Tap water is generally not safe to drink, although at most resorts and dive centers seem to use only some simple filters to make it potable. Bottled water is only available at RM3 per 1.5L bottle (2012 high-season data).
- Water Bottle Refills You can refill your bottle at some hotels for free (Shari-la if you are guest), or at Senja Bay Resort (RM1.50/big bottle of cold water (6/2013), southern end of Coral Bay, pay at reception). There is a water sterilizing machine in Amelia Cafe (next to Mamas place near to the jetty). For RM2 it will dispense 1.5L of warm water, so better go to Senja Bay Resort.
- The sun can be extremely hot and burning in the afternoons till early evenings. Slap on sunscreen and, if snorkeling, wear a T-shirt. (Take note that ocean conservationists do not encourage sunscreen to be in contact with the sea water as it ruins the corals! So avoid sunscreen and throw on a t-shirt if you can) The midday sun is the most dangerous and can really ruin a holiday if you're not careful. Caps, hats or any other sun protective gear would be a good idea. Be careful also about lips!
- Sharks in Coral bay are not dangerous, some small fishes can bite you if you offer them finger, but it's just annoying, same goes for occasional jellyfish. Broken coral can cause nasty grazes to feet and knees, especially if snorkeling in too shallow water. If you are wearing a life jacket, wear a T shirt with sleeves to avoid chaffing.
- The anchors on the beach can be extremely devastating for your toes and legs since there are no protection measures against them. Pay attention when you walk on the beach, especially during the night.
There is a small medical reception at the small island, in the main town where most locals reside. It has friendly staff (a doctor and a couple of nurses) and offers basic medical help at almost no cost at all, if needed. To get there, ask a boat taxi driver for help.
There are increasing reports of violent crime on Kecil. Break-in's and theft is also widely reported. Though it is fairly safe to walk along the island at night be prudent and exercise caution.
Especially on Long Beach (Perhentian Kecil) never ever leave your valuables on the beach while going night-swimming. You can almost be 100% certain that they will be gone - taken by locals who walk the beach with a torch in search of your phone, camera, money or wallet. This has become a serious concern as more and more locals from the mainland turn to stealing as a source of income.
There are reports of the beach boys that staff long beach getting drunk, high and causing trouble with visitors for little to no reason. Always be careful.
Police presence on the island is minimal. There is a small police post at Ombak on Coral Bay, and a larger police station in the village. These are closed at night time and on weekends. You can phone 999 in an emergency. As always with law enforcement in this region of the world you can't expect the police to take your word over a local.
Garbage barges in the coves/bays are generally being collected by the marine park. However, when they are not, the garbage falls off the barge, washing up on the shores of the beautiful beaches. Litter remains a big problem despite local regulations. No one seems to want to pick the stuff up. Maybe they need a black bag volunteering day!
When you arrive at the jetty in Kuala Besut, you are made to pay a marine park fee, which is used to pay for services such as this. Despite this conservation effort, there are concerns that the coral reef will be gone within the decade, due to the intensive tourism industry. The destruction of the reef, especially close to shore, is becoming more profound each year.
Many snorkeling trip operators have very little awareness of environmental issues. They may discard plastic bags which contained food for attracting fish directly into the sea. This adds up to thousands of plastic bags needlessly thrown into the ocean. Do what you can do discourage this neglectful habit.
If you are a diver then you can dive with operators who do care about the marine environment. One or two Dive Centres run regular reef and beach clean operations and even offer the Reef Check  survey methodology, which you can learn whilst helping to monitor and conserve the marine environment. Check out Watercolours  and Coral Sky Dive Centres.
Use the water refill services listed in the Stay Healthy section to massivly reduce the amount of plastic waste you create and the islands have to deal with.
|This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!|