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”).
When to Visit the Perhentian Islands.
High season ends in mid-September and November brings in the powerful monsoons. The best time to visit is between March and November. We visited in March.
Wow beautiful Perhentian Islands (East Coast Malaysia)….
I had to do a lot of research … “How do I get to the islands?” “Where to stay?” “Where to eat?”
We planned to stay for four weeks but found that two weeks, was enough. So we headed over to Langkawi (West side of Malaysia) for the remaining time.
If you are planning to visit the Perhentians, then let me share what I have learned to help you on your way…..
Know Before You Go-
• You’ll pay a 5 RM National Park fee before reaching the islands, when you book your boat ticket in Kuala Besut.
• Wi-Fi can be slow and patchy on the islands. Just make the most of your surroundings.
• Bring supplies with you from the mainland. Drinks, snacks and toiletries are for sale in small shops on the beach and in the local village on Kecil but prices are high and selection is limited.
• Most of the locals on the islands are Muslim. You’ll only find alcohol for sale at selected resorts. Bring your own from the mainland
• Beware of sea lice bites! These microscopic jellyfish larvae can be present in the water if you’re on the islands in shoulder season. They feel like little stings or electric shocks while you’re in the water and can leave a nasty rash. Take some antihistamines (oral and topical) and be sure to wash and dry your swimsuit if you do get bitten. If it’s really bad I tend to wear a thin body wetsuit which also protects against sunburn.
Kuala Lumpur was the international airport I had to fly to from London. Internal flights – Fly with Malaysia Airline, Air Asia or Fireflyz from KL to either Kuala Terengganu or Kota Bharu (45minutes). I flew with AirAsia I mainly use this airline while travelling around Asia. I find their website very easy to navigate and it is very cheap. After you arrive at the airport, take either a bus or taxi to Kuala Besut jetty. We jumped into a taxi with another couple who was heading the same way and split the cost. The journey will take about 1½ hours from Kuala Terengganu airport/1 hour from Kota Bharu airport.
Getting in from Kota Bharu-
There is a direct local bus service City Liner for RM 6 (£1.07) and takes 1.5hrs. It’s also easy to arrange a shared taxi ride like we did for around RM70.00 (£12.44) Virtually any guesthouse or hotel in Kota Bharu can organise this. You can also book the minivan from Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut. The fare is RM35.00 pp (£6.22).
Place to stay before getting boat transfer in Besut jetty-
There really isn’t a lot of choices. I stayed at T’Lodge. It was cheap, clean and I found it comfortable. It was for one night only, a place to rest my head and wasn’t far from Besut Jetty. You can book through Tripadvisor or bookng.com. I paid around £20 but that was for two of us so £10 each isn’t too bad. You probably could find cheaper places to stay if you were on a really tight budget but be prepared for a less comfortable stay.
How To Get To The Islands-
Journey to the islands takes about 30 to 45 minutes by speed boat and one and half hours by slow boat. There are a number of boat operators in Kuala Besut offering boat services to Perhentian Island. The return boat ticket cost RM 60.00 (£10) per person for speed boat and RM40.00 (£7.14) per person for the slow boat.
Finally you’re there! Look at these views aren’t they amazing?!!
Places to stay on the islands-
We didn’t pre book any accommodation and looked for a place once we arrived.
Here are the places we came across on each island:
Kecil – Chalet at The World Café (outside shower) very expensive
Shari-la Island Resort (fridge, decent bathroom with lots of wood affect within the room)
Bubu long beach (sister of chalet at the world café but a lot cheaper)This is where I stayed and loved it. It’s right at the end of Long Beach. Very clean and comfortable. The rooms are quite small but had everything we needed. Ask to stay in the front rooms as they have beautiful views of the beach. You can pre book online with Agoda and other sites but it is a lot more expensive. I was able to negotiate a good price. (once I arrived) with the resort.
Besar – Tuna Bay Island Resort Mainland Office
Abdul’s Chalet (big rooms, bright bathroom)
Coral View Island Resort (Clean rooms, lots of wood affect)
Places to eat –
Ewans Café – free Wi-Fi (Coral Bay), Blue and Yellow café isn’t great but it’s cheap (Long beach) Panorama does nice food and they play a movie in the evenings, good place to hang out.
Getting out – Kuala Besut – Kota Bharu
Shared taxi depart at 9am, 1pm and 5pm. City liner buses to the city centre of Kota Bharu leave at 7:30am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12:30am, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5:30pm and at 6:30pm (RM 6 (£1.07)per person, takes about 90 mins. depending on traffic). You reach the bus station, when you head right from the jetty, across the little square at the public restrooms, go left after the “tour office”, then enter the small street to the right and at the end you will find the red and yellow painted bus stop.
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