Pulau Perhentian also known as Perhentian Islands are located about 10 nautical miles off the northeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Terengganu and about 40 miles from the south of Thai border. The two main islands on Pulau Perhentian are known as Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian). There are also other small unhabituated islands like Susu Dara (Virgin Milk), Rawa and Serengeh that lie off Perhentian Kecil.
The name of the island Perhentian literally means stopping point in the Malay language because Pulau Perhentian serves as a staging point or waypoint that traders used when they travelled from Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand. In the 1970s, the island was also one of the many islands that Vietnamese refugees landed their boats on. Pulau Perhentian started appearing on many of the maps of the 19th and 20th century and the islands were known as The Station Islands at one point of time which arises from the British colonial period. Prior to its sudden popularity in the tourism sector, the islands were only sparsely inhabited for centuries.
What to do at Pulau Perhentian
Today, tourism accounts for most of its economy activities. It has become a popular travel destination for families, big groups and backpackers because it has many accommodation options that cater to almost any budget. The two islands are famous for their sandy beaches, turquoise blue colour sea and palm-fringed white coral hence the popular activities to do here are scuba-diving, swimming and snorkelling. There are dozens of scuba-diving spots around the two main islands and visitors are able to sight many cuttlefishes, rays and parrotfishes in the shallow waters. It is also possible for scuba-divers to get PADI certification at several locations so that they can take advantage to explore coral reefs and various wrecks. On land, the two main islands serve as the home to different species of monitor lizards, geckos and poisonous spiders and in the sea, it is the home to sea turtles, cuttlefishes, clownfish, blue spotted rays and black tipped sharks. The designated marine park on the two main islands has quite excellent fish life and corals. Pulau Perhentian was also previously the home to a significant amount of green and hawksbill sea turtle nesting population and the islands currently only receives up 300 nestings per year partly because of the frequent oil spills from the nearby PETRONAS owned oil production platforms and tankers. Besides water sports activities, there are other activities such as camping, fishing, canoeing and banana boat rides available.
There are multiple famous scuba-diving spots including The Pinnacle and Sugar Wreck and there is a fierce competition between dive centers resulting in competitive and relatively cheap prices for divers averaging about RM70 to RM90 for each dive. All of these dive shops also offer introductory dives with no training required and PADI training. Some of the famous dive centers on the Perhentian Besar are Alu Alu Divers, Flora Bay Divers, Perhentian Island Divers, Watercolours, Pro Divers World, Universal and Panorama. Famous dive centers found on the Perhentian Kecil are Angel Divers, Ombak Divers, Quiver Dive Team, Steffen Sea Sports, Sunlight Divers, Turtle Bay Divers, and Anti Gravity Divers.
Most of the resorts and some of the restaurants offer snorkelling gear rental service at RM10 inclusive of a mask, snorkel and fins and these outlets can help you to arrange for snorkelling tours around Pulau Perhentian. Some of the most popular snorkelling spots include Teluk Pauh, Shark Point and Tanjung Basi. The best place for snorkelers to see black-tipped shark in the front of a very small beach that is only accessible by boat and it is situated between Shark Point and Teluk Dalam large beach. Price for a snorkelling from Perhentian Kecil typically costs around RM25 to RM35.
Where to Stay in Pulau Perhentian
As the main islands are separated into big and small, the hotels and resorts located on the Perhentian Besar tends to be more expensive when compared to those resorts located on Perhentian Kecil. Some of the famous resorts on Perhentian Besar are Perhentian Island Resort, Coral View Resort, The Reef, Mama’s, Watercolours Paradise Resort, Mama’s Place, New Cocohut Chalet, ABC Guesthouse, Tuna Bay Island Resort Bubbles Resorts, Arwana Perhentian Resort, Samudra Resort, Flora Bay 1 and 2 and Everfresh Chalets. Perhentian Island Resort is one of the best resorts on the big island and it will set you back for RM250 to RM350 per night.
There is little to choose from in terms of luxury accommodation options on the small island. In contrast to the main big island, this area is mostly popular with backpackers and travellers with lower budgets. Some of the popular resorts here include Moonlight Chalets, Bubu Long Beach Resort, Oh La La’s, Panorama Chalet & Restaurant, World Cafe, Symphony Chalet, Matahari, Mohsin Chalet, Rock Garden and Sunrise Guest House.
Things to Follow
Below is a list of things that you have to follow in order to keep yourself healthy and to protect yourself:
- Bring mosquito repellent and mosquito coil as there are many mosquitoes especially after the rain
- Do not drink water from the tap as it is generally not safe to drink
- Remember to refill your water bottle and while some of the resorts may offer you to refill the water for free, you may have to pay for this in other resorts
- The sun can be extremely scorching in the afternoons until evenings so remember to use sunscreen lotion and wear comfortable clothing
- It is not encouraged for you to go near the water if you are using sunscreen as it can ruin the corals
- Be aware when you are under water as some broken corals can cause nasty grazes to your knees and feet
- Pay attention when you walk on the beach especially during the night so that you do not knock into the anchors lying around on the beach.
How to Get To Pulau Perhentian
You can access Pulau Perhentian by taking a ferry or speed boat from Kuala Besut, 110 kilometres away from Kuala Terengganu. Do take note that you will have to pay RM5 as a marine park conservation charge before you are allowed onto the ferry. The ideal time to visit Pulau Perhentian is between the months of April and September due to its warm weather and limited rainfall.