The Perhentian Islands

Two more beautiful east coast islands, Pulau Perhentian Besar (big) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (small), just over 20 km off the coast, are separated by a narrow sound with a strong current. Despite considerable development in recent years, with more hotels, restaurants, bars, diving outfits and much more noise, the Perhentian islands still remain a paradise, with excellent diving and snorkelling, magnificent beaches and some of the best places for swimming on the east coast.

Ins and outs

It is important to get to the islands, 20 km offshore, as early as possible on the day of arrival due to high demand for accommodation. Boats leave throughout the day from Kuala Besut which is connected to other towns by regular buses. There are boats between the two islands.

The islands

Of the two islands, Perhantian Besar (big island) is generally more popular with families as it houses slightly more upmarket resorts, although huts on the beach are also available. Perhentian Kecil (small) is simpler and attracts a younger crowd of party-going backpackers. There is a fishing village and a turtle hatchery in the middle of Long Beach (Pasir Panjang) on Perhentian Kecil. Both islands however, are still only developed to a low-key stage and offer beautiful beaches, good snorkelling, and great diving as well as forested trails inland. However, this is changing as more chalet operations are being built every year. Despite the fairly low level of development, there is enough tourist activity to worry environmentalists, in particular damage to the reef from irresponsible divers, litter (although boats come daily to ship it away in bags from the resorts) and the pollution from the generators (almost every resort has their own oil-powered generator).

Kuala Besut

It is possible to spend the night in Kuala Besut. This small fishing village has one main place to stay. Business in this little fishing village has expanded to cater for those tourists passing through and good food can be found at a series of small restaurants along the waterfront. Kuala Besut has lots of travel agents which sell boat and bus tickets and book accommodation on the island. The bus and taxi station is located 100 m to the west of the jetty entrance.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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